Los Angeles Preps: JoJo Ballestero

The second round of the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs -- and in some cases the third -- is in the books. Here's a look at the most compelling news from Tuesday's games.

Biggest upset: Tesoro should be writing a paper on how to shock the world. Its football team upset Servite in the Southern Section Pac-5 football playoffs, and on Tuesday the basketball team followed suit with a 62-56 victory over second-seeded Canyon Country Canyon in Division 2AA. Jalen Bruce scored 17, Jed Abello 13 and and Tyler Lancona (14 rebounds) and Nick Pallas (12 rebounds) scored 11 apiece.

Worst disappointment: Hands down, Ocean View's exit in the second round of the Division 2AA playoffs was a monumental. The Sea Hawks, in their first season ever without Coach Jim Harris -- who died last year after battling cancer -- but coached by Harris' son, Jimmy Harris, were the top-seeded team in the division. They had won 18 in a row, including a late-season victory over Mission Viejo that catapulted them into the No. 2 position in the Orange County Register top 10. They had not lost since Dec. 17 when 7-footer Conor Clifford was out with an injury. Until now. And it wasn't even close. Cristian Rivera scored 24, Kendall Small 13 and Clifford 11, but those efforts weren't enough against a Thousand Oaks team that made 11 of 12 shots from the three-point arc en route to an 82-66 home victory.

Best performance (in a loss): Second-seeded Sun Valley Village Christian had no answer for Mamadou Ndiaye, the 7-foot-5 center for Brethren Christian. Ndiaye scored 43 points in an 81-66 loss in the 5AA quarterfinals. No one else scored more than eight points.

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1. Mission Viejo won its 18th in a row on Saturday, sending Victorville Victor Valley to its 17th straight defeat, but the Diablos (18-1) almost saw their streak end on Friday night. They won at El Toro, 76-72, after trailing in the fourth quarter of the South Coast League game. Evan Zeller led the way with 30 points, and Michael Cramer had 19 as the Diablos overcame a 54-49 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The victory sets the stage for a showdown Wednesday at Capistrano Valley (17-2). That place will be rocking. Both teams are undefeated in league.

2. In what turned out to be the marquee game of the the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase, Jojo Ballestero hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Canyon a 65-62 victory over Huntington Beach. Ballestero wasn't even the first option on the play. Ballestero led Canyon (15-4) with 23 points, which was enough to overcome the game-high 32 points scored by Harley Ruder of Huntington Beach. In other Showcase games, Redondo Union beat Edison, 59-49; Villa Park beat Los Alamitos, 62-52; Palm Springs beat Cerritos Gahr, 65-39; and Mission Viejo beat Victor Valley, 84-45.

3. Three Orange Country wrestlers won championships Saturday in the prestigious Five Counties meet. In the heavyweight division, Villa Park's David Trujillo scored a 3-2 victory in the finals against Esperanza's Carl Hulick, the second time this season that Trujillo has beaten his Century League rival by that score. Juan Hernandez of Capistrano Valley won the championship at 195 pounds, and Edison's Greg Meline won the title at 171.

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1. Mater Dei (15-2) — Trailed early against Orange Lutheran before Johnson and Johnson -- Xavier and Stanley -- took over. Next: vs. Middle Village (NY) Christ the King, Monday.

2. Capistrano Valley (17-2)Aleks Lipovic hangs 19 on Aliso Niguel and 22 on Dana Hills as Cougars’ win fifth in a row to set up huge South Coast showdown. Next: vs. Mission Viejo, Wednesday.

3. Mission Viejo (18-1) — Diablos have won 18 in a row, but trailed by five in fourth quarter to El Toro before pulling out 76-72 win behind Evan Zeller's 31 points. Next: at Capistrano Valley, Wednesday.

4. JSerra (12-5) -- Lions take care of business against York-less OLu, and Devon Pflueger and Reece Lemon scored season highs against Santa Margarita. Next: vs. Mater Dei, Friday.

5. Orange Lutheran (12-4) -- With Gabe York out with appendicitis for a second week, the Lancers lose their big gun -- and two in a row, to Mater Dei and JSerra. Next: vs. La Verne Lutheran, Monday.

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CANYON COUNTRY -- Canyon of Anaheim's Chris Anderson scored 17 points and had nine assists in his team's 65-59 CIF Southern Section Division 2AA playoff win over Canyon of Canyon Country.

Anderson scored five points in the fourth quarter as his team squandered a 10-point lead. Anderson said he played a sloppy first half and turned the ball over too much. Canyon of Canyon Country led at halftime, 32-30.

But Canyon of Anaheim built a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Jojo Ballestero hit two 3-pointers and Toreno Winn scored six points as the Comanches from Anaheim started pulling away.

Canyon of Canyon Country battled back in the fourth quarter. Darnel Haggerty hit a 3-pointer to tie the score, 54-54, with 4:30 to play in the game.

The game stayed tied for nearly a minute and a half as neither team could score. Canyon of Anaheim built a five-point lead on free throws at the end of the game to secure the win.

Third-seeded Canyon of Anaheim will play Summit, the No. 6 seed in the Division 2AA playoffs, in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
9:28
PM PT
The CIF-Southern Section and City Section playoffs are all set to get started later this, week which can mean only one thing: The Southland's top teams are on the verge of squaring off, tournament style, with the hopes of eventually bringing home some championship hardware to their respective schools.

We figured it was best to unveil another installment of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings before things get underway. It will be interesting, no doubt, to see how things unfold and just how many of the following programs live up to the lofty postseason expectations bestowed upon them.

In terms of making an appearance in the final poll before the playoffs, consideration was given to larger schools Compton, Elsinore, Murrieta Valley, Pasadena and Washington. The same could be same about little guys Mission Hills Alemany, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Westlake Village Oaks Christian. In the end, however, there is only room for 20 teams. So, let's get down to business.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (24-1): Ryan Anderson and the Jackrabbits have been the top-ranked team from start to finish thus far. No need to switch things up at this stage of the game.

2. (2) Mater Dei (24-2): If anyone is capable of defeating Long Beach Poly in a loaded Division 1AA bracket, perhaps it is the Monarchs. Doing so, however, is an entirely different story.

3. (4) Taft (23-2): The talented Toreadors are the odds-on favorite to win the City Section title. Anything less than a championship would be one of the biggest surprises of the season.

4. (3) Corona Centennial (23-3): The premier program out in the Inland Empire has shown little, or no, signs of slowing down. A deep run during postseason play is a distinct possibility.

5. (5) Loyola (20-5): Talk about playing your best basketball at the most opportune time, no one wants to face the Cubs in Division 1A. The real question is, did they peak a bit too early?

6. (6) Etiwanda (25-2): The Eagles have plenty of explaining to do after inexplicably losing two of their final five regular-season games. That said, we are patiently waiting for an answer.

7. (7) Orange Lutheran (21-6): Among the teams looming as potential threats in Division 4AA are Windward, Alemany and St. John Bosco. The Lancers figure to be tested early and often.

8. (8) Westchester (23-6): After taking a brief glance at the City Section bracket, the Comets appear to be on a collision course with Taft in the finals. Looking ahead could prove costly though.

9. (9) Harvard-Westlake (22-4): With Daniene Cain and Zena Edosomwan providing an imposing presence down low in the paint, the Wolverines will be tough to beat in Division 3A.

10. (11) Peninsula (25-1): Lone loss came last year, on Dec. 3, a six-point setback to Westchester. Fast forward to present day and the Panthers are in the midst of a 21-game winning streak.

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ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
6:39
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If there is one thing to be learned from last week it is this: Expect the unexpected from the Southland's top boys' basketball teams.

More than a few programs ranked among the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 lost recently, most notably top-ranked Long Beach Poly. The Jackrabbits, however, maintain the top spot in the poll based upon their body of work.

Four other teams in the top 10 suffered setbacks, so do not be surprised to see some new faces in some new places this time around.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (22-1): A surprising five-point upset at the hands of Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman on Saturday hurt. It is not the end of the world. Far from it, in fact.

2. (2) Mater Dei (22-2): Victories over JSerra on Tuesday night and Santa Margarita on Thursday are the only obstacles left in the way of a Trinity League title.

3. (3) Corona Centennial (21-3): The Huskies have been without senior point guard Michael Caffey for a while now, yet the wins continue to mount at an alarming rate.

4. (4) Taft (21-2): Concord De La Salle posed as somewhat of threat over the weekend. And while the showdown went into overtime, the Toreadors found a way to prevail.

5. (8) Loyola (19-5): Everyone has been talking about how the Cubs have played one of the more difficult schedules around. And apparently, that is proving to be true.

6. (6) Etiwanda (23-2): Not sure to how to explain last week's Baseline League loss against Upland. Nevertheless, few programs possess as much upside as the Eagles.

7. (10) Orange Lutheran (19-6): Big test Tuesday night against Cezar Guerrero and St. John Bosco followed by a Trinity League finale with Servite on Thursday evening.

8. (5) Westchester (20-6): Can't knock the Comets for taking on Orange Lutheran and losing at the Nike Extravaganza. They will be better for the experience down the road.

9. (7) Harvard-Westlake (22-3): Lost to Loyola on Friday night. The Wolverines bounced back with a victory over Crespi on Monday though to clinch the Mission League title.

10. (9) Mission Viejo (23-1): Fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a two-point setback to Tesoro. Up next is El Toro on Tuesday and Capistrano Valley on Thursday.

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Orange County: No holidays in tonight's championship games at Chapman, Estancia

December, 30, 2010
12/30/10
6:41
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Mater Dei may show that it's vulnerable and not quite the team it was last year, but the Monarchs managed to remained unbeaten in Orange County Wednesday by scoring a 69-48 victory over Foothill in a semifinal from the Orange Holiday Classic.

Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in OC by ESPNLA, got 17 points from Xavier Johnson and was aided by No. 5 Foothill's 38 percent shooting performance.

It now sets up one of the most intriguing games of the tournament season.

Mater Dei (12-1) will play play No. 3 Anaheim Canyon (12-1) in the championship game scheduled for tonight, 8:30 p.m., at Chapman University. The teams met in the Loara tournament finals and Canyon led after one quarter and was tied, 24-24, at halftime before Mater Dei pulled away for a 73-64 victory. In that game, Johnson scored 40 and the Monarchs outscored Canyon, 24-16, in the third quarter to provide all but one point of the difference.

Something similar took place against Foothill, as Mater Dei outscored Foothill (10-3) in the second quarter by 15 points to provide the bulk of the margin of victory.

Canyon reached the Holiday Classic final with a 69-61 victory over Carmichael Jesuit as JoJo Ballestero scored 25 points.

ESTANCIA COAST CLASSIC


Second-ranked Mission Viejo (13-0) and No. 7 Aliso Niguel (13-0) will face each other at 8 p.m. at Estancia High in the finals of the Coast Classic.

Aliso continued to storm through the tournament with a victory over Mercer Island, Wash., 71-44, as Bryan Fisher and Scott Lynds scored 18 points apiece.

Mission Viejo defeated Corona, 60-50, behind Isaac Neilson, a 6-10 center who scored a season-high 29 points; he also had 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

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