Los Angeles Preps: Michael Caffey

LOS ANGELES -- Understandably, Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight didn't want to get into the specifics of his halftime speech. Coaches don't share many secrets.

"I talked about intensity," McKnight hinted, "and I was pretty aggressive about it."

Whatever McKnight said seemed to spark Mater Dei, which erased a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Corona Centennial, 76-64, Saturday night at Galen Center and advance to next week's CIF State Division I boys' basketball championship game in Sacramento. The fourth-seeded Monarchs outscored the second-seeded Huskies 49-30 in the second half.

"We came out knowing we had nothing to lose," said Katin Reinhardt, who led Mater Dei with 19 points. "We came out wanting a state title."

Junior Xavier Johnson had 16 and freshman Stanley Johnson had 14 and 12 rebounds for the Monarchs (31-3). Dominique Dunning and Michael Caffey led the way for the Huskies (30-5) with 20 and 19 points, respectively. Mater Dei outrebounded Centennial 43-23.

"We had fire in our hearts," Xavier Johnson said.

Things looked promising for Centennial at the break, as the Huskies stormed into the tunnel leading 34-27 behind a combined 27 points from its touted trio of Dunning, Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright. Fast-paced Centennial attempted 11 more fields goals than Mater Dei in the first half.

It all changed in the third. Mater Dei used a 9-2 run to pull even and capped the quarter on a 9-0 spurt to go in front, 47-42. Centennial went cold, making just three of 16 attempts (18.8 percent) in the third.

"We started off the second half as bad as we could have," Centennial coach Josh Giles said, shaking his head.

Mater Dei didn't have to wait long to avenge its CIF Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal loss to Centennial. The Huskies had basically stolen that game from the Monarchs' grasp, coming back from 15 down to win, 60-58, March 1 at Anaheim Arena.

"That's the thing," Reinhardt said, "we didn't want to lose again. We couldn't lose again. They knock us off our CIF run and we just proved that we can beat that team. We should have won the first time."

Blair Angulo covers preps and UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Inland Empire: SoCal Regional Finalist, Centennial

March, 17, 2011
ESPNLA is taking a closer look this week at the Inland Empire basketball teams that qualified for the Southern California Regional championships Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Today, the spotlight is on the Corona Centennial boys’ team, which plays Mater Dei in the Division 1 final at 8 p.m.


Located: Corona.

League: Big VIII.

Resume: The Huskies endured a challenging pre-league schedule, losing to Etiwanda in the championship game of the Rose City Classic in Pasadena, falling to San Diego Lincoln in the final of the Santa Monica tournament and losing a second-round game to Oakland Bishop O’Dowd in the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. As the only team from the I.E. entered in the National Division, the Huskies finished fifth after beating the state’s preseason top-ranked team, Woodland Hills Taft, in a fifth-place semifinal. Centennial stayed on course in the Big VIII League, posting double-digit victories in 12 of 14 games, and entered the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs seeded third behind Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei. After wins against Temecula Great Oak, Los Alamitos and Upland, the Huskies shocked Mater Dei with a 60-58 come-from-behind victory in a section semifinal at the Anaheim Convention Center. They couldn’t get past top-seeded Poly in the finals, however. Rematches with Westchester and Taft were the first hurdles in the regionals, and the Huskies passed those tests with ease and confidence. They aren’t getting the rematch with the Jackrabbits they envisioned, as Mater Dei upset Poly to earn its own rematch with Centennial. And those early-season losses for the Huskies? Turns out they weren't so bad after all. Etiwanda was a Division 1AA semifinalist and regional quarterfinalist but couldn't get past Poly either time. Lincoln is playing Fontana Summit in the Division 2 regional final, and Bishop O’Dowd reached the Division 3 final in the Northern California Regionals.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire and LA North: Centennial 94, Taft 81

March, 12, 2011

EASTVALE — The Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team dug a deep hole for Woodland Hills Taft in the opening five minutes of their Southern California Regional Division 1 semifinal Saturday and made sure the Toreadors didn’t see any daylight the rest of the way in the 94-81 victory at Roosevelt High.

“We knew we could get out on top of them early,” said Centennial senior guard Dominique Dunning. “Luckily, we’re hot.”

The second-seeded Huskies advanced to meet fourth-seeded Mater Dei in the regional championship game Saturday at USC's Galen Center. Mater Dei upset top-seeded Long Beach Poly, 72-55, on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Centennial, which beat the Monarchs last week in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal.

The rematch between Centennial and third-seeded Taft played out differently than when the teams met Dec. 29 in a fifth-place semifinal of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, but the result was the same. In the first meeting, the Huskies rallied from six points down at the start of the fourth quarter to win, 61-58.

The second time around, the Huskies surged to a 24-9 lead with 3 minutes 12 seconds still remaining in the opening quarter and didn’t allow Taft to get any closer than five the rest of the way.

Gelaun Wheelwright, coming off a 38-point performance in a quarterfinal victory Thursday against Westchester, scored 24 points to lead Centennial.

“The last three games, he’s making everything,” said Centennial coach Josh Giles. “He’s an unbelievable shot maker.”

Dunning contributed 21 points and nine rebounds and Michael Caffey had 17 points and 11 assists.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire and LA South: Corona Centennial 68, Westchester 57

March, 10, 2011

CORONA — Gelaun Wheelwright is getting pretty adept at picking up the slack.

The senior guard for the Corona Centennial boys’ basketball team had to carry some of the scoring load for hobbled teammate Michael Caffey and he came through with 38 points Thursday night in a 68-57 victory against Westchester in CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 quarterfinal at Centennial.

The Huskies advanced to host Woodland Hills Taft in the regional semifinals Saturday night. Centennial beat the Toreadors earlier this season at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.

As the second-seeded team, Centennial has enjoyed home-court advantage through the first two rounds. Wheelwright said the comfortable confines has helped spark his stellar play. The Huskies had just one home game in the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs, which ended with a loss to top-seeded Long Beach Poly in the championship game at Anaheim Convention Center.

“I feel good playing in front of a bunch of my peers,” said Wheelwright, who signed with Weber State. “They get me focused and ready to play.”

Caffey, who signed with Long Beach State, sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of a first-round victory Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley and did not return. Wheelwright finished with 31 points in that win.

As recently as Thursday morning, Caffey was still on crutches.

“I honestly didn’t know if I was going to play or not because it was killing me,” Caffey said of his ankle. “I was a little slower than usual but then my adrenaline started pumping.”

Caffey finished with seven points, including a big 3-point basket early in the fourth quarter that broke a 48-48 tie.

(Read full post)

Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

Second round

Westchester at Corona Centennial, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey will likely be a game-time decision after twisting his right ankle during the third quarter Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley. Caffey, who has signed with Long Beach State, said after the game that he "should be back" against the Comets. Caffey is averaging 17.5 points and 6.2 assists for the second-seeded Huskies and has emerged as the team’s best playmaker.

2. If any team can weather the storm without one of its key players, it’s Centennial. The Huskies’ backcourt also includes New Mexico-bound slasher Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound sharpshooter Gelaun Wheelwright. The duo combined for 59 points in the victory against REV. Caffey missed two Big VIII League games earlier this season with a sprained left ankle and the Huskies didn’t skip a beat. Westchester isn’t Norco, however.

3. Due to their respective locations, you wouldn’t expect these teams to have a history against each other, but they played Dec. 30 in the fifth-place game of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Huskies raced to a 24-7 lead in that game and kept the Comets in the rearview mirror the rest of the way in 59-51 victory. Dunning scored 17 points in the game and Joshua Wilson had 17 to lead Westchester.

4. This isn’t the Comets of old. Sure, they reached the City Section championship game but they don’t have the start power of recent seasons, such as when Trevor Ariza streaked down the lane, Amir Johnson patrolled the middle or Dwayne Polee, Jr. soared above the rim. This season, Westchester relies on an unsung cast that includes 6-6 forward Robert Gsellman, who is better known among baseball recruiters for his .649 batting average last season.

5. Much of what makes Westchester so beatable this season is its inexperience. The Comets graduated 11 players from last season’s Division 1 state championship team. Woodland Hills Taft had every reason to kick the Comets when they were down. The Toreadors lost to Westchester in the City Section final the last two years and three of the last five, but they could only manage a four-point victory in last week’s City Section final.

Inland Empire: Centennial 89, Redlands East Valley 73

March, 8, 2011

CORONA—One of the best aspects of Southern California Regional basketball playoffs is they give teams a second chance.

The Corona Centennial boys’ team is grateful to have another opportunity to end its season on a winning after losing by 16 points Saturday against Long Beach Poly in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game.

The Huskies weren’t about to let this one slip away.

Gelaun Wheelwright scored 31 points and Dominique Dunning had 28 to lead the second-seeded Huskies to an 89-73 victory Tuesday night against visiting Redlands East Valley in the opening round of the Division 1 regionals.

“Our team really came out focused and ready to play so we can get another crack at them,” Wheelwright said of the top-seeded Jackrabbits.

Of course, a number of talented teams still stand between Centennial and Poly, but the Huskies are prepared to go through anybody. They already have a victory this season against third-seeded Woodland Hills Taft.

“We know we can compete with anybody in there,” Dunning said. “We’re just as confident as anybody else.”

Redlands East Valley (25-8) stayed with Centennial (28-4) during the first half, thanks in part to 14 first-half points from REV guard Greg Dishman. Leading by nine points at halftime, the Huskies used a 10-0 run early in the third quarter to take a 55-37 lead and the Wildcats never pulled back within single digits.

With Long Beach State-bound point guard Michael Caffey nursing a sprained ankle for much of the second half, Wheelwright and Dunning picked up the slack. Wheelwright scored 19 points after halftime and Dunning had 16.

Wheelwright sank five three-point baskets.

“I guess today was my night,” he said. “Luckily they were falling.”

Redlands East Valley guard Terrell Todd said it wasn’t Centennial’s shooting ability that put the Wildcats in a hole, but its speed.

“They were faster than us,” Todd said. “We never played a different team like that. They were fast, pushed the ball and we couldn’t handle it.”

Wheelwright said he sensed the Huskies defensive pressure was also giving REV problems.

“Our pressure helped a lot,” he said. “They were nervous when they got into the traps and we forced a lot of turnovers.”

Dishman did his part, making a season-high seven three-pointers and scoring a season-best 28 points. Todd, the team’s leading scorer at 20.3 points a game, finished with 14 and Pepperdine-bound center Paulin Mpawe had 10.

Centennial will play host to Westchester on Thursday in their second round game.

Inland Empire: Corona Centennial set to host Redlands East Valley

March, 7, 2011
Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

First round

Redlands East Valley at Corona Centennial, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial is seeded No. 2 in this bracket, mainly due to the efforts of its Big Three. Michael Caffey has signed with Long Beach State, Dominique Dunning with New Mexico and Gelaun Wheelwright with Weber State. Caffey began the season as the third option but he has elevated himself into the player most likely to take the big shot down the stretch. He was pivotal in the Huskies’ victory against Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals.

2. How will the guard-oriented Huskies handle Paulin Mpawe, the 6-9 center for REV who has signed with Pepperdine? Centennial didn’t have an answer for California-bound center Ryan Anderson in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 6-10 senior for Long Beach Poly had 18 points and 21 rebounds in the 68-52 victory. Mpawe is averaging 14 points and 11.2 rebounds.

3. You can pretty much bet the farm that the Huskies will string together a sizable run during a game, usually turning a close contest into a route. REV needs to be cognizant of when that’s occurring and use its timeouts wisely. With Mpawe and leading scorer Terrell Todd, a senior guard, the Wildcats have the pieces to slow the game into a half-court tug-of-war, but they need to limit their turnovers, especially while bringing the ball upcourt.

4. The Southern California Regionals are different than the section playoffs in that the higher-seeded team gets home-court advantage. Centennial hasn’t played a whole lot of home games this season. This will be just its ninth at Centennial High this season, and second of the postseason. Still, they are 8-0 at home and haven’t lost in their own gymnasium since January 2009.

5. REV hasn’t played since Feb. 25, when the Wildcats lost to Los Angeles Loyola, 90-60, in a Division 1A semifinal at Cal State Los Angeles and, for all intents and purposes, checked out of that game about the second quarter. Centennial, on the other hand, is fresh off their loss to Long Beach Poly and hungry to get back to its winning ways. If staying in rhythm is the key to scoring the basketball, the Huskies have that advantage as well.

Orange County: Anderson is heading to San Diego

March, 3, 2011
Those who follow boys' basketball somewhat closely in the Southland have seen their share of quality point guard play over the course of this season.

Chris Anderson, for example, was one of the premier playmakers around and he proved as much time and time again for Anaheim Canyon. That said, it should not come as a major surprise to learn the 5-foot-7 senior recently gave San Diego a verbal commitment.

“San Diego is a great school, it's close to home, I just felt like it was a perfect fit for me,'' Anderson said. “I think I'm going to have the opportunity to excel there.''

Whether that happens, or not, remains to be seen.

He did, however, excel this season. That much is certain.

Anderson averaged 20.8 points, 7.6 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game for the Comanches (26-4 overall), who had their season end a bit prematurely with a seven-point loss to Fontana Summit in a Southern Section Division 2AA playoff quarterfinal a couple of short weeks ago.

Nevertheless, Anderson & Co. were ranked among ESPNLosAngeles.com's top 20 teams for a majority of the season and they were ranked in the top 10 at one point.

Division I coaches and scouts kept a watchful eye on Anderson during that span. UC Irvine and Pennsylvania offered scholarships and Pac-10 Conference schools such as Oregon State and Stanford were among the others who expressed varied levels of interest in Anderson, brother of UCLA's Jerime Anderson.

(Read full post)

Division 1AA boys basketball semifinal: Corona Centennial 60, Mater Dei 58

March, 1, 2011

ANAHEIM—Down by 10 points with two minutes remaining in the third quarter against one of the premier boys' basketball programs in the state, Corona Centennial had every right to panic.

Yet the Huskies remained cool as an igloo.

Instead of throwing in the towel, they relied on their speed, experience and emotion to get them back into the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal Tuesday night against Mater Dei, then persevered down the stretch in the 60-58 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“We never panicked,” said Centennial coach Josh Giles.

Centennial (27-3) will return to the Anaheim Convention Center for Saturday’s championship game against top-seeded Long Beach Poly at 6 p.m. It's the Huskies' third section final appearance in school history.

After a 20-3 run gave the third-seeded Huskies a 54-47 lead with about four minutes remaining, second-seeded Mater Dei was suddenly in catch-up mode for the first time in the game.

The Monarchs pulled within one on Eli Stalzer's three-point basket with 21 seconds left but that’s as close as they would get, as Centennial back-up point guard Chris Popov made one of two free throws with 15.9 seconds left. Stalzer was then fouled on the other end as he drove to the basket but missed his first free-throw attempt with 9.3 seconds remaining.

He made the second and Popov was fouled again but not until nearly five seconds ticked off the clock. He made the first and missed the second, but the Monarchs could only manage a half-court desperation shot at the buzzer.

Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey was the best player on the floor for both teams, scoring a game-high 23 points, along with a team-high eight rebounds and four assists. The Long Beach State-bound senior hit back-to-back three-point baskets early in the fourth quarter to give the Huskies their first lead.

“He makes their team run,” said Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight. “He just makes things happen.”

Katin Reinhardt scored 22 points, Stalzer had 16 and Xavier Johnson 11 for the Monarchs. All three are juniors and should form a strong nucleus next season.

Mater Dei (27-3) shot 66% from the floor in the first half in stretching its lead to 35-23. The Huskies’ determination never waned, however.

“There was never any guys yelling at each other or pointing fingers,” Giles said.

The tide began to turn in the second half as the Monarchs were haunted by 14 turnovers, allowing the Centennial crowd to get behind their team and get under the skin of Mater Dei.

“We let them get to us, get into our heads,” said Johnson, who transferred to Mater Dei from Temecula Chaparral in the offseason. “It got loud in there.”

Caffey said he wasn’t so much inspired by the crowd as Centennial's bench.

“If you make a shot they’re going crazy,” he said. “Our defense and our bench and our crowd helped us tonight.”

Inland Empire: Half dozen boys' basketball teams remain alive

February, 23, 2011
And then there were six.
Now that the Southern Section boys’ basketball playoffs have been pared down to the semifinals, the Inland Empire is left with just a few precious pieces still in the game.
Here’s a rundown:


Of the I.E. teams still playing, the Eagles are by far the most familiar with this time of year. They jumped all over host Valencia in a Division 1AA quarterfinal Tuesday night, scoring the first 10 points en route to 70-58 victory and their fourth straight trip to the section semifinals. Etiwanda, seeded fourth, moves on to play a familiar foe in top-seeded Long Beach Poly. Etiwanda beat the Jackrabbits in the semifinals last season, then lost to them in the Southern California Regionals.


The Big Three carried the Huskies to a 74-58 victory Tuesday against visiting Upland. Dominique Dunning scored 26 points, Michael Caffey had 19 and Gelaun Wheelwright 13 for third-seeded Centennial. The Huskies, who have won 18 consecutive games, will meet second-seeded Mater Dei in the Tuesday’s semifinals at the Anaheim Convention Center. Mater Dei ended the season for Rialto Eisenhower, 82-62.


Another team that appears to be peaking at the right time is the Wildcats. They went to Downey on Tuesday night and had no problem knocking off the fourth-seeded Vikings, 71-54, in a Division 1A quarterfinal. Led by senior point guard Terrell Todd and Pepperdine-bound center Paulin Mpawe, REV has the kind of inside-outside punch that can carry a team in the postseason. The fifth-seeded Wildcats will face a tough test in the semifinals against top-seeded Loyola, however.


The sixth-seeded SkyHawks clawed back from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit in a Division 2AA quarterfinal Tuesday against third-seeded Anaheim Canyon and won, 70-63, to advance to the semifinals for the second straight season. Dorian Cason has been one of the I.E.’s most improved players throughout the season and he finished with 22 points, including 17 in the first half. Cason, a 6-6 senior forward, will be matched against 6-10 senior center Isaac Neilson of Mission Viejo in Friday’s semifinals, which will be hosted by Summit at a to-be-determined neutral site.


The Indians won their second straight playoff game by the score of 49-48 to reach the semifinals in Division 3AA for the second consecutive season. Unlike the second-round game at Arroyo Grande, when second-seeded Palm Springs held on for the victory, the Indians rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter against visiting La Habra Sonora. Palm Springs will play third-seeded La Canada in Friday’s semifinals. The game will be played at a neutral site but the Indians have been designated the home team, so it will likely be played somewhere in the desert.


The city of Redlands has not one, but two teams in the semifinals. The Bulldogs knocked off Trinity Classical Academy of Valencia, 57-43, in a Division 6A quarterfinal Tuesday. Despite getting out-sized by 6-6 forward James Brooks of first-year Trinity Classical, Kamaal Thomas came through with 17 points and Mikeal Anderson had 14 for third-seeded RAA, which will play second-seeded Boron in Friday’s semifinals.

Inland Empire: Daniels makes college decision

February, 19, 2011
It's official, Jordan Daniels is off the board.

The 5-foot-8 senior for the Etiwanda High boys' basketball team made his decision about where he is going to spend the next four years of his life on Friday and committed to Boston College despite having scholarship offers from several other schools.

“Boston College was the right fit for me, I liked the coaches and how they treated me during the whole recruiting process, I got a good vibe from them,'' Daniels said. “I'm in a good place right now and am ready to continue my basketball career back East.''

The Eagles coaching staff has had some recent success in landing players from the Southland. Once Daniels arrives on campus at Chestnut Hill, he will join Long Beach Poly's Ryan Anderson, Brea Olinda's Kyle Caudill and Valencia's Lonnie Jackson.

The point guard is one of the Southland's premier players at his position and ranks right up there with Division I-bound peers such as Woodland Hills Taft's Spencer Dinwiddie, Los Angeles Price's Askia Booker and Corona Centennial's Michael Caffey.

With Daniels now seemingly set in terms his future at the next level, college coaches and scouts figure to turn their attention toward Bellflower St. John Bosco's Cezar Guerrero and Anaheim Canyon's Chris Anderson, a pair of unsigned floor generals.

“I can't speak too much about the other point guards, but I have no problems singing Jordan's praises,'' Etiwanda coach Dave Kleckner said. “He's a young man with a ton of talent and a ton of character. I've been doing this for 20 years and I can tell that he has what it takes to succeed and make it at the next level. We have not seen the best from Jordan Daniels yet.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Inland Empire: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 14, 2011
The regular season came to an end last week and the second season begins Wednesday with first-round playoff games in most divisions. Upland and Fontana Summit are among the Inland Empire teams that built momentum heading into the playoffs, Eastvale Roosevelt and Ontario Colony seem to be heading in the opposite direction.

1. Corona Centennial, 23-3 (1) – The Huskies scored early and often in a 65-45 victory Thursday against Eastvale Roosevelt, giving them the outright Big VIII League title. Michael Caffey returned from an ankle injury to score 21 points, Gelaun Wheelwright had 20 and Dominique Dunning 16 for Centennial, which is seeded third in Division 1AA. Next up: Wednesday vs. Temecula Great Oak in a first-round game at Centennial, 7 p.m.

2. Etiwanda, 25-2 (2) – Etiwanda wrapped up the regular season with one-sided wins against Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos and Alta Loma, then learned it was seeded fourth in the Division 1AA playoffs. The Eagles paid the price for two late-season losses and dropped a couple spots in the seeding order. That means they’ll have to go through top-seeded Long Beach Poly to reach the finals, instead of second-seeded Mater Dei. Next up: Wednesday vs. Long Beach Wilson in a first-round game at Etiwanda, 7 p.m.

3. Murrieta Valley, 23-3 (3) – The Nighthawks ended a perfect run through Southwestern League play with double-digit wins at Vista Murrieta and Temecula Chaparral. MurrietaValley, which won the Division 2AA title last season against Compton, now steps up two levels for the playoffs. The Nighthawks are seeded fifth in Division 1AA. Next up: Wednesday vs. Corona in a first-round game at Murrieta Valley, 7 p.m.

4. Rialto Eisenhower, 17-7 (4) – The Eagles blew out Fontana and Yucaipa last week to finish unbeaten in Citrus Belt League play for the second consecutive year. After the Eagles went 7-6 in December, they found their groove down the stretch, even getting payback against Los Angeles Fairfax for an earlier loss. Eisenhower, the Division 2A champion the last two seasons, enters the Division 1AA playoffs seeded seventh. Next up: Wednesday vs. Chaparral in a first-round game at Eisenhower, 7 p.m.

5. Elsinore, 23-4 (5) – The Tigers employed their full-court press to perfection last week in one-sided victories against Romoland Heritage and Menifee Paloma Valley. They finished undefeated in Sunbelt League play and are seeded second in the Division 2A playoffs, their highest seeding in school history. Elsinore advanced to the Division 3AA semifinals last season, eventually losing to Santa Ana Foothill, which is seeded third in same half of bracket. Next up: Wednesday vs. Westminster in a first-round game at Elsinore, 7 p.m.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Boys' basketball games of the week

February, 10, 2011
1. Corona Centennial (22-3, 13-0) at Eastvale Roosevelt (18-5, 12-1), tonight, 7:30 p.m. – Centennial’s high-scoring offense will take on Roosevelt’s stingy defense for the second time this season in a Big VIII League game. A win by the Mustangs and they’ll share the league championship. Centennial won the first meeting, 59-56, on Jan. 20. Michael Caffey scored 25 points in that game, but has been hobbled with an ankle injury since last week. The Mustangs almost got caught looking ahead Tuesday before squeaking by Riverside King, 61-59. Udun Oskue, a 6-foot-5 senior forward for the Mustangs, is averaging 15 points in the last four games.

2. Riverside Patriot (22-4, 8-1) at Fontana Summit (20-6, 9-0), tonight, 6:30 p.m. – The SkyHawks won the first Sunkist League meeting, 64-50, at Patriot on Jan. 25, dominating the paint by scoring 24 of 27 field goals from within five feet. Summit point guard Montigo Alford did most of the dissecting that game, handing out 11 assists. The Warriors, who have finished runner-up in league the last three seasons, will need to count on shooters Bryan Saffel and Matt Scogebo if the they want to get over the hump.

3. Glendora (21-5, 6-3) at Upland (17-9, 5-4), tonight, 6:30 p.m. – Upland has bounced back from the brink to win its last two Baseline League games against difficult opponents and now sits in third place with one game remaining. Second-place Glendora beat the Highlanders by one point on Jan. 25.

4. San Jacinto (14-12, 8-1) at Perris Citrus Hill (16-9, 9-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Oyintonye Akamande, a 6-foot senior guard for Citrus Hill, scored a season-high 23 points in the first Mountain Pass League meeting, a 60-55 victory by the visiting Hawks on Jan. 26. Anthony Rounds, a 6-6 junior forward, is usually Citrus Hill’s leading scorer, averaging 19.4 points and 10.2 rebounds.

Looking ahead: Southern Section playoff selections, Sunday, noon-2 p.m.

Inland Empire: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 8, 2011
Another loss for Etiwanda ends its season-long run at the top of the Inland Empire rankings. Rialto Eisenhower comes up big against Redlands East Valley and Los Angeles Fairfax. Ontario Colony has its long league-winning streak come to an end, and San Bernardino clinches its first league title in 18 years.

1. Corona Centennial, 21-3 (2) – Long Beach State-bound point guard Michael Caffey missed Thursday’s game against Corona Santiago and Friday’s against Norco with a sprained ankle but the Huskies still managed to push winning streak to 13 games. Next up: Tonight vs. Corona at Centennial, 7:30 p.m.

2. Etiwanda, 23-2 (1) – Another loss for the Eagles, this time in Baseline League play, but they can still clinch a title with one more victory. Next up: Tonight vs. Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos at Etiwanda, 6:30 p.m.

3. Murrieta Valley, 21-3 (3) – The Nighthawks clinched the Southwestern League title outright Friday with a 64-38 victory against Murrieta Mesa. Now they can begin focusing on winning a second straight Southern Section championship. Next up: Tonight at Vista Murrieta, 7 p.m.

4. Eisenhower, 16-7 (5) – The Eagles appear to be heading in the right direction after defeating City Section power Fairfax, 53-39, on Saturday at the Nike Extravaganza. Eisenhower had lost to Fairfax, 56-33, back in December. Next up: Tonight at Fontana, 6 p.m.

5. Elsinore, 21-4 (6) – The Tigers won their 19thconsecutive Sunbelt League game and clinched the title outright with a four-point victory Friday against Perris. Next up: Tonight vs. Romoland Heritage at Elsinore, 6:30 p.m.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

January, 24, 2011
1. The Rialto Eisenhower boys’ basketball team faced a short-handed Richmond Salesian team from Northern California on Saturday in a showcase held at the University of La Verne, but still couldn’t close the gap against the team that came in ranked 10th in the West Region by ESPN RISE. The game featured 13 lead changes but Salesian led when it counted and won, 57-54. The Pride played without standout sophomore Jabari Bird, a 6-5 wing who was averaging 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was ruled ineligible the day before by the North Coast Section for violating CIF transfer rules. He played for Benicia as a freshman. Salesian also had to forfeit 16 victories this season.

2. Ashton Robinson of Redlands hasn’t let up on his remarkable scoring binge. He scored 43 points in an 18-point loss to Eisenhower on Tuesday, they came back with 26 in a 12-point win Thursday against Fontana Miller. His 34.4 scoring average is second-best in the state and seventh in the nation. He’s also among the Southern Section leaders in three-point shooting and free-throw shooting. Robinson’s surge in offensive production is especially noteworthy because the senior guard averaged just 8.2 points for the Terriers last season.

3. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey scored 25 points Thursday night to help the Huskies holds off Eastvale Roosevelt, 59-56, in a Big VIII League game at Centennial. Among his teammates, which includes New Mexico-bound Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound Gelaun Wheelwright, Caffey has shown the most improvement in his offensive game this season, bumping up his scoring average from 12.6 last season to 18.5. He’s also averaging 6.4 assists and 3.2 steals. Caffey has signed with Long Beach State.

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