Los Angeles Preps: Kamille Diaz

J.W. North girls fall short in title game

March, 23, 2012

SACRAMENTO – If John Wooden was considered the Wizard of Westwood, Leonard De Coud might be the Wizard of Riverside.

De Coud turned a four-win team into a CIF state title contender in a matter of months. The J.W. North girls' basketball team came within a basket of winning the Division II state title at Power Balance Pavilion on Friday.

Archbishop Mitty won the CIF State Division II girls' basketball championship, 56-54, surviving a second-half, 3-point barrage from J.W. North. After the game, De Coud said his girls are not a one-season wonder.

“This is a win for this program,” De Coud said. “We will be back here next year. Count on it.”

J.W. North (30-6) hit five 3-pointers in the second half after going 0-for-4 in the first half. Akilah Martin drained three 3-pointers and scored 11 points for J.W. North. Her 3-pointer with 3:50 to play in the third quarter gave J.W. North a 29-28 lead, its first since the first quarter.

The Huskies had a 1-0 lead in the first quarter before Archbishop Mitty built a 9-4 edge. J.W. North trailed until the third quarter, but Archbishop Mitty never led by more than five points in the first half and let J.W. North hang around.

“We ran our offense,” De Coud said. “We got out of sync of what we normally do on offense.”

Archbishop Mitty (28-5) was up 22-19 at halftime. Neither team shot well in the first half. J.W. North was 8-for-25 (32 percent) from the field in the first half. Archbishop Mitty was 10-for-32 from the field, taking seven more shots, but making only 31 percent of them.

Emily Dinger opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give Archbishop Mitty a six-point lead, 25-19. But Brittany Crain answered right back for J.W. North with a 3-pointer. The two teams exchanged the lead four times before the end of the third quarter.

Archbishop Mitty started the final period with a two-point lead, 36-34, and maintained it through a high-scoring fourth quarter.

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Lynwood girls hold off J.W. North in 2AA

March, 2, 2012

ANAHEIM -- In the words of Lynwood girls’ basketball coach Ellis Barfield, the Lady Knights weren’t very good at the free-throw line this season.

It was difficult to tell Friday afternoon.

Lynwood made 11 of 14 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter of the Southern Section Division 2AA final against J.W. North, allowing the Lady Knights to hold on for a 66-55 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

“We put a lot of time and effort on those free throws,” Barfield said. “It paid off.”

It didn’t appear the game would come down to free throws earlier in the half.

The fifth-seeded Lady Knights led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter before the third-seeded Huskies made their second run of the game. North, which led, 14-7, early on, cut the deficit to five on a 3-pointer by Akilah Martin with 3:30 left in the game, and Kamille Diaz sank another 3-pointer five seconds later to trim Lynwood’s lead to two.

“Our heads weren’t in there in the fourth quarter,” said Lynwood sophomore guard Priscilla Lopez. “I guess we thought we won the game already.”

Once they reached the free-throw line, however, they seemed to locate their focus again.

Jazmine Johnson sank two free throws with 3:01 remaining to push the lead back to four. Alize Lofton then made two to push it to six and Amber Blockmon sank two more to stretch the lead to 59-51 with 1:54 left. That seemed to deflate the Huskies for good.

“The fight came out of us,” said North coach Leonard De Coud, who took over this season and increased the team’s win total from four to 27.

Lopez finished with 14 points to lead the Lady Knights, Blockman had 13 points and nine rebounds and Shahana Zeigler contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.

Priscilla Brooks scored 18 points for North before fouling out with 2:52 remaining and Lynwood leading by four.

Inland Empire: Winners and losers from SoCal Regional openers

March, 9, 2011
Before the Etiwanda boys’ basketball team could prepare for the rematch, the Eagles had to take care of the mismatch.

They marched to Fresno on Tuesday and knocked off Central Section champion Bullard, 69-49, setting up a second-round game Thursday at Long Beach Poly.

Etiwanda lost to the Jackrabbits by seven points last week in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal. A year ago, the Eagles beat Poly in the section semifinals, only to lose in regional playoff rematch.

Byron Wesley led the way against Bullard, totaling 18 points and 11 rebounds.

It’s the fifth straight season the Central Section Division 1 champion has lost to a visiting team from Southern California in the regional opener.

Summit climbs over Narbonne

The Fontana Summit boys’ basketball team returned from 10 days off to win its Southern California Regional Division 2 first-round game Tuesday night, taking down host Harbor City Narbonne in overtime, 72-70.

The seventh-seeded SkyHawks fell behind by 11 points in the first half but made up the deficit behind 22 points from senior point guard Montigo Alford. Still, they were on the verge of falling behind with 6.1 seconds remaining in regulation after Shailo Leafa was fouled while making a lay up. He missed the free throw, however, and the game went to overtime.

Summit (25-8) took the lead for good when 6-6 senior forward Dorian Cason made one of two free throws with 26.6 seconds remaining. Narbonne, which won the City Section Division 2 title Saturday, then missed their final three field-goal attempts.

The SkyHawks will head back on the road Thursday, traveling to second-seeded Ventura for a second-round game.

Palm Springs cooled off

The Palm Springs boys’ basketball team ran into a hot team, and an even hotter player.

The Indians couldn’t stop Chatsworth and sharp-shooting guard Derrick Hector, who made eight of nine three-point attempts and scored 30 points in the 74-66 victory at Chatsworth High.

In the City Section Division 3 championship game Saturday, Hector scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half to lift the Chancellors to a 66-61 victory against L.A. Garfield.

Palm Springs, playing its first state playoff game in school history, received 21 points and nine rebounds from 6-9 center Dillon Floyd, 20 points from Marcus Hall and 11 from Thaddeus Gray.

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Inland Empire: Athletes of the Week

January, 12, 2011
Reuben Franklin, Vista Murrieta, Sr.

Franklin became the first wrestler in school history to win a title at the Riverside County Championships, scoring a 16-4 major decision Saturday against Ryan Rees of Temecula Great Oak in the 189-pound division at Riverside Arlington High. Rees beat Franklin for the Southwestern League title last season

Kamille Diaz, Indio, So.

Diaz, a 5-8 guard, scored a season-high 19 points Jan. 4 in a 100-14 victory against Palm Desert Xavier Prep, then had 17 points Thursday in a 76-30 win against Cathedral City, helping the Rajahs to a 5-0 record in the Desert Valley League. Diaz has scored in double digits in nine straight games.