Los Angeles Preps: Riverside King

I.E.: Boys' basketball playoff primer

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
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With the best Inland Empire boys’ basketball teams placed in the top four divisions of the Southern Section playoffs, here’s a rundown of what to look for beginning with Friday’s first-round games.

DIVISION 1AA

Background: The Inland Empire is well known in this division. The region has sent a representative to the championship game the last three years. Long Beach Poly beat Corona Centennial last season, Mater Dei toppled Etiwanda the year before and Riverside King upset Mater Dei in 2009.

Best Shot: If third-seeded Etiwanda is to continue that trend, the Eagles will likely need to find a way to beat second-seeded Long Beach Poly. They lost to the Jackrabbits in the Division 1AA semifinals last season and again nine days later in the second round of the SoCal Regional playoffs. There are few high school coaches who squeeze more out of their players than Dave Kleckner at Etiwanda, however.

Best first-round game: Highland at Silverado. A good old- fashioned high desert showdown as 11th-seeded Silverado brings a 16-game winning streak into the postseason. The Hawks will need to find a way to slow Highland senior guard Joseph Prince, who is averaging 23.4 points. Prince, who played the last two seasons at Glenbrook North High in Northbrook, Ill., scored a season-high 37 points in the regular-season finale last week against Lancaster.

Darkhorse: Rancho Verde didn’t land on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Mater Dei, so that can already be considered a victory. In the last three seasons, the Mustangs lost all four postseason meetings against Mater Dei, with three losses in the section playoffs and another in the SoCal Regionals. Rancho Verde is seeded 10th and drew a good challenge in the opener against visiting Montclair. A possible second-round game against seventh-seeded Eisenhower looms.

DIVISION 1A

Background: A team from the I.E. has qualified for the semifinals in this division the last three seasons, Redlands East Valley a year ago, Colony in 2010 and Chino Hills in 2009. In the last final appearance by an I.E. team, Riverside King beat Etiwanda in the 2008 championship game at Honda Center.

Best Shot: The I.E.’s streak of semifinalists could be in serious jeopardy. The highest-seeded teams in this division are No. 7 Chino Hills and No. 10 Vista Murrieta, and they would meet in the second round should they win their openers. The good thing is, one I.E. team would be guaranteed a trip to the quarterfinals.

Best first-round game: Corona at Arroyo Valley. Both these teams have held their own against good competition this season. Corona tied for fifth in the highly competitive Big VIII League and Arroyo Valley finished runner up in the San Andreas League, losing both games to league champion Cajon by a combined six points.

Darkhorse: Vista Murrieta has shown it can reach up and bite a good team if they’re not paying attention. The Broncos beat Murrieta Valley by 13 points in a Southwestern League game last month and the Nighthawks are seeded third in Division 2A. Davin Guinn, a 6-5 senior forward for Vista Murrieta, is one of the top players in the division. He matched his season high with 32 points in the rematch against Murrieta Valley last week.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

February, 5, 2012
2/05/12
10:53
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Most of the top teams in the I.E. held their ground last week, with several clinching outright league titles, or at least a share, heading into the final week of the regular season.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 24-1: Sam Flemming scored with 15 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles to a 70-69 victory Tuesday at Upland, keeping them perfect in Baseline League play. Etiwanda came back to win its 21ststraight game Friday night and clinch the outright league title at Los Osos. Next: Tuesday @ Alta Loma.

2. (2) Eisenhower, 16-7: The Eagles clinched their third consecutive outright Citrus Belt League title with victories last week against visiting A.B. Miller (79-49) and at Redlands East Valley (61-34). Eisenhower wasn’t able to keep up with Fairfax on Saturday afternoon at the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei and lost, 73-67. Next: Wednesday @ Redlands.

3. (4) Elsinore, 22-3: The Tigers are well on their way to a fourth straight Sunbelt League title after defeating Temescal Canyon (64-57) and Perris (57-55) last week. Elsinore has won 29 consecutive league games. Next: Wednesday @ Heritage.

4. (5) Murrieta Valley, 21-2: The Nighthawks maintained their one-game lead on Vista Murrieta in the Southwestern League with wins last week at Great Oak (46-35) and Murrieta Mesa (60-39). Reid Shackelford sank five of seven three-pointers against Murrieta Mesa. Next: Tuesday vs. Vista Murrieta.

5. (3) J.W. North, 19-5: Last week began with another hiccup in Big VIII League play, an 11-point loss at Riverside Poly, but the Huskies came back with wins against visiting Roosevelt (64-49) and at Corona Santiago (53-48) to clinch at least a share of the league title with two games remaining. Next: Monday @ Riverside King.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball top 10

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
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A big upset in the Southwestern League last week, as Vista Murrieta took down previously-No. 2 Murrieta Valley in a cross-town showdown. Other than another unpredictable week in the Big VIII League, the rest of the top teams kept on winning.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 19-1: The Eagles had their easiest week of the season, blowing out Los Osos and Alta Loma in Baseline League games. Dominick Alexander, a 5-11 sophomore guard, took advantage of the extra minutes and scored a career-high 14 points Friday against Alta Loma. Next: Tuesday @ Rancho Cucamonga.

2. (4) Eisenhower, 12-6: The Eagles trailed in the third quarter Wednesday against Redlands East Valley but pulled away in the second half to win their 35th consecutive league game, 60-49. They made it 36 in a row with a win Friday against Redlands. Next: Wednesday @ Fontana.

3. (5) Summit, 15-6: The SkyHawks clung to a five-point lead at the half Friday night against Kaiser, but opened it up by outscoring the Cats, 18-13, in the third quarter of the Sunkist League game. Devon Alexander finished with 20 points in the 66-52 win. Next: Wednesday vs. Patriot.

4. (3) Elsinore, 17-3: The Tigers lost to Leuzinger of Lawndale in a Martin Luther King Day Shootout at St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, but won the games that counted Wednesday at Perris and Thursday against visiting Heritage. Next: Monday @ Aliso Niguel.

5. (2) Murrieta Valley, 17-2: The Nighthawks fell Thursday night in the biggest upset of the season involving I.E. teams. Murrieta Valley gave up 27 points to Vista Murrieta forward Davin Guinn and lost, 60-47, in the Southwestern League game. Next: Tuesday @ Chaparral.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball top 10

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
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The top seven teams from last week’s rankings went unbeaten, while the Big VIII League did some reshuffling as J.W. North reemerged as the team to beat.

1. (1) Etiwanda, 17-1: Sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin continues to be the model of consistency, scoring 21 points in a 56-35 win at Glendora and 20 in a 61-43 victory against visiting Upland. Next: Tuesday vs. Los Osos.

2. (2) Murrieta Valley, 16-1: The Nighthawks opened Southwestern League play with victories last week against Temecula Valley and Great Oak. Reid Shackelford was the high scorer of the week with 25 points Thursday against Great Oak. Next: Tuesday vs. Murrieta Mesa.

3. (3) Elsinore, 13-2: The Tigers opened Sunbelt League play Wednesday with a 68-47 victory against Lakeside. E.J. Twyman and Lawrence Chamberlain scored 24 points each for Elsinore, which came back to defeat Temescal Canyon on Friday. Next: Monday vs. Leuzinger at St. Bernard HS.

4. (4) Eisenhower, 9-6: The Eagles are off to a 2-0 start in Citrus Belt League play after downing Yucaipa (59-48) and A.B. Miller (74-39) last week. Marvelle Harris scored 22 of his game-high 27 points in the first half Friday night against Miller. Next: Monday vs. Ayala at Los Osos HS.

5. (5) Summit, 13-6: Isaiah Taylor was the high scorer in victories last week against visiting Jurupa Valley and Bloomington. The 6-1 senior guard scored 22 in the 74-54 victory Wednesday against Jurupa Valley and 27 on Friday in the 87-43 win against Bloomington. Next: Wednesday at Norte Vista.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 8, 2012
1/08/12
6:26
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Six weeks into the boys’ basketball season and the cream has risen to the top. Etiwanda and Murrieta Valley have been no surprise with their results thus far, but a few teams have emerged from the woodpile to steal a piece of the spotlight.

1. Etiwanda, 15-1 – The Eagles have won 12 straight since a loss to LaVerne Lutheran, the state’s sixth-ranked team by ESPN coming into the season. Etiwanda won the Inland Empire Classic and Holiday Hardwood Classic, then beat L.A. Crenshaw on Saturday at the The Great Inland Empire Shootout at Eisenhower High. Next: at Glendora, Tuesday.

2. Murrieta Valley, 14-1 – The Nighthawks are off to another blistering start after beating Elsinore to win the Nighthawk Classic at Murrieta Valley and Sierra Canyon to win the Mayor’s Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. Next: at Temecula Valley, Tuesday.

3. Elsinore, 13-2 – The Tigers are the only team to beat Murrieta Valley this season, scoring a seven-point victory 10 days after losing to the Nighthawks at their own tournament. They also captured the Paloma Valley Winter Shootout with a nine-point win against Vista Murrieta. Next: at Lakeside, Wednesday.

4. Eisenhower, 7-6 – The Eagles have played one of the tougher schedules among I.E. teams thus far, losing to Etiwanda by 21 and nine points but defeating local juggernauts Summit, Rancho Verde and Upland. Next: vs. Yucaipa, Wednesday.

5. Summit, 11-6 – The SkyHawks also experienced a pair of losses at the hands of Etiwanda’s unrelenting man-to-man defense. They took care of business in victories against Cajon, Riverside King and Visa Murrieta. Narrow losses to Murrieta Mesa and Colony are keeping Summit out of the top five. Next: vs. Jurupa Valley, Wednesday.

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I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
6:37
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With the boys' basketball season a week under way, some teams have already proved they're a force to be reckoned with, while a few others have started a step slow. Here's a look at the teams and players to watch in the coming months, and where you can see them play.

1. J.W. North, 4-0

The Huskies return their top two scorers from last season’s 19-11 team. Aaron Peck, a 6-4 senior forward, was an all-Division 2A selection after averaging a team-high 17.5 points and nine rebounds. He forms a dangerous trio up front with 6-5 junior forwards Marcus Baugh (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Dorian Butler (7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Rancho Verde transfer DeShon Taylor, a sophomore guard, more than shores up the back court.

2. Etiwanda, 3-1

The Eagles graduated their top five scorers from last season’s team that advanced to the Division 1AA semifinals but should regroup well behind their next superstar, sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin. The 5-11 ball handler scored 20 points Saturday night in a 72-61 loss to LaVerne Lutheran in the Rose City Classic championship game in Pasadena. Etiwanda will also count on 6-4 junior forward Sheldon Blackwell and 6-3 senior guard Dominique Walker.

3. Murrieta Valley, 5-0

The Nighthawks graduated their top two scorers from a team that finished 24-4 last season but appear to have filled the gaps in a hurray, evident by their 58-54 victory last weekend against Rancho Verde in the final of the Big Daddy tournament at Citrus Hill High. Darius Butler, a 6-3 senior forward, and Reid Shackelford, a 5-11 senior guard, appear willing and able to step into scoring roles. Butler is averaging 21 points through the first five games after averaging 8.7 last season, and Shackelford has bumped his scoring average up from 3.6 last season to 18.8. Jackson Helms, a 6-7 senior forward, is also rounding into one of the region’s better big men.

4. Rancho Verde, 3-1

Jordan Grace, a 6-2 senior guard, is a returning Division I-AA selection. He’ll team up nicely with 6-foot senior guard Kendall Schmidt, who transferred from Woodcrest Christian after averaging 25 points a game last season. Sophomore guards Jalen Hall and Tre Nottingham and 6-3 junior forward Lance Jones give the Mustangs additional depth, while 6-6 newcomer Khalil Fuller, the brother of Vanderbilt guard Kyle Fuller, will push to join the rotation.

5. Colony, 3-1

The Titans return their two best players from last season’s team, which finished 20-10, including 11-1 in the Mt. Baldy League, and advanced to the Division 2AA quarterfinals. Miles Poullard, a 6-2 senior guard, and Everett Turner, a 6-foot junior guard, were all-Division 2AA selections last season. With no player taller than 6-4 on the roster, the Titans will need to maintain an up-tempo pace to be successful.

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IE: Five things from the weekend

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
11:30
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1. Riverside Ramona is already the front runner for the comeback story of the season. The Rams won their opener Friday night against Riverside King, 28-7, their first victory since Oct. 30, 2009. Zack Lewis, fourth in the state in the 300 hurdles last June, scampered for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback T.J. Miller threw for two more. Ramona lost to King, 30-0, in last season’s opener, setting the tone for an 0-10 season.

2. Corona Santiago also showed it’s a much better team than a year ago. The Sharks disposed of visiting Dana Hills, 53-17, a far cry from last season’s opener, when they lost to the Dolphins, 49-20. The biggest difference is likely the maturation of junior quarterback Michael Darr, who made his varsity debut in last season’s game against Dana Hills. In the rematch, Darr was calm, cool and collected, rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries and throwing for 255 yards and three scores.

3. It’s safe to say that San Bernardino Cajon out-coached Temecula Chaparral on Friday night. The Cowboys surprised the Chaparral coaching staff and players with a variety of offensive formations in the 30-14 victory, including the quarterback-less Wildcat. Damontae Kazee, who has committed to Washington, did most of the damage out of the Wildcat and finished with 169 yards rushing, including a 43-yard touchdown. Ryan Tukua was making his head coaching debut for the Pumas.

4. Kickers usually don’t get much attention until it’s time to win or tie a game. Matthew Sandoval of Moreno Valley Valley View came through when his team needed it most Friday night, booting a 38-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift his team to a 17-16 victory at Beaumont. Ontario Colony, meanwhile, was the beneficiary of a missed point-after attempt in the final seconds against West Covina South Hills, allowing the Titans to escape with a 30-29 victory.

5. One of the more surprising blowouts of the weekend was a 49-7 victory by Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos against visiting La Quinta. The Nighthawks are usually one of the better teams in the Coachella Valley, while Los Osos is trying to break in a number of new players. “We weren’t ready to play,” La Quinta assistant coach Dave Gurbada told The Desert Sun. “We have young guys we thought would play better and didn’t.” Isn’t that the responsibility of the coaching staff?

I.E.: A closer look at the Big VIII League

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
9:42
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BIG VIII LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Corona Centennial (14-1, 7-0); Roosevelt (9-3, 5-2); Norco (9-3, 5-2); Corona (5-6, 3-4); Corona Santiago (4-6, 3-4); Riverside King (4-6, 2-5); Riverside North (2-8, 2-5); Riverside Poly (3-7, 1-6).

Players to watch: The strength of Centennial lies in the trenches this season, and Milo Jordan can take much of that credit. He was the league’s defensive co-most valuable player last season after helping the Huskies win the Inland Division title and advance to the Division 1 state bowl championship game. Jordan committed to Arizona State in June. Also returning to the Huskies’ defensive front is Ngata Tuihalamaka, who led the Huskies with 4 sacks last season. Centennial also returns three offensive linemen, led by senior tackle Lio Lafaele. Norco also returns most of its young offensive line from a season ago, as well as sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart. But no doubt the marquee player is outside linebacker Scott Starr, who committed to USC shortly after he was offered last spring. North should also improve behind senior quarterback/defensive back Justin Gheorghe, who was a first-team all-Big VIII selection on offense and defense last season. Gheorghe tasted success last spring as an outfielder for the North baseball team, which won the SS-Division 1 title at Dodger Stadium. Roosevelt, Santiago and Poly should also benefit from the return of their starting quarterbacks. Aaron Crone of Roosevelt threw for a league-leading 23 touchdown passes last season, Santiago junior Michael Darr averaged a league-best 206.1 passing yards a game and Steven Hamm returns behind center for Poly. Santiago might have the league's best offensive linemen in Isaiah Folasa, who committed to UCLA last month. Garry Lewis of Corona looks like the league’s best athlete. The senior wide receiver had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) at the Nike SPARQ Combine last spring in Long Beach.

Projected order of finish: Centennial, Norco, North, Santiago, Roosevelt, Poly, Corona, King.

Key games: Sept. 9 – Ventura St. Bonaventure @ Centennial; Los Angeles Crenshaw @ Norco; Sept. 16 – Centennial vs. Mater Dei @ Santa Ana Stadium; Sept. 23 – Upland @ Norco, Temecula Chaparral @ Centennial, North @ Fontana Kaiser; Sept. 30 – Norco @ Roosevelt; Oct. 7 – North @ Centennial, Santiago @ Norco; Oct. 14 – North vs. Poly @ Riverside College, Centennial @ Santiago; Oct. 21 – Norco @ Centennial; Oct. 27 – Santiago vs. North @ Riverside College; Nov. 4 – Centennial @ Roosevelt; Nov. 10 – Santiago @ Roosevelt; Nov. 11 – North @ Norco.

Alumni in the NFL: Lonie Paxton, Denver Broncos (Centennial ’96); Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings (Norco ’06); Heath Farwell, Minnesota Vikings (Corona ’00).

Fast fact: Centennial and Norco are intense rivals in the Inland Empire but a number of former players have gone on to become close teammates at Arizona State. Seven Centennial grads are listed on the 2011 roster, including four potential starters on defense, led by last season’s Pac-10 Defensive MVP, linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Norco boasts six players on the Sun Devils roster, led by Garth Gerhart, the brother of Coltin and Toby Gerhart, considered one of the top centers in the NCAA.

On the clock: Citrus Belt League

Inland Empire: North baseball team clinches first league title since '97

May, 12, 2011
5/12/11
11:07
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RIVERSIDE — This wasn’t just any post-game dog pile.

The Riverside North baseball team had waited 14 years to celebrate another league championship, and almost let their opportunity slip away Thursday, allowing three runs in the top of the seventh inning against visiting Riverside King before holding on for a 5-4 victory in the Big VIII League finale.

North starting pitcher Jack Johnson talked his way into coming out for the seventh, despite throwing 90 pitches to that point. He allowed a home run to Brandon Camp on the first pitch of the inning and the junior left-hander immediately gave way to senior right-hander Mario Morales.

Following a one-out error and a walk, Shane Mardirosian singled to right field to drive in a run and the remaining runners advanced to second and third on an ill-advised throw home. Morales then balked while preparing to pitch from the wind up, scoring another run and moving the tying run to third base.

However, Morales got cleanup hitter Pat Debonis to hit a hard grounder to the left of third baseman Evan Perez, who made a nice play to field the ball, held Mardirosian at third and then threw out Debonis at first for the second out of the inning. Andrew Alvarez then popped out to first to end the game and trigger North’s long-anticipated celebration.

“Two years ago, we started seven freshmen on varsity,” North coach Steve Madril said shortly after dodging a bucket of ice. “We knew two years from then we’d have a pretty good team. Luckily, this was the year we were waiting for.”

Two years ago, the Huskies finished 4-24, losing their final 14 games. Last season, they finished last out of eight teams in the Big VIII League.

“We took our bruises,” said Johnson, who improved to 8-1.

The Wolves also finished 10-4 in league play and will share the league championship with North. However, the Huskies will be the league’s No. 1 representative for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs beginning next week because they won both meetings against King this season.

North gave Johnson a cushion by scoring two runs in the first inning. With one out and runners on second and third, Perez hit a high fly to shallow center. Alvarez, playing shortstop, appeared to have trouble with the sun and the ball fell for a single, scoring the first run. Andrew Saucedo then singled up the middle for the second.

The Huskies added two more runs in the fourth on a throwing error by King starting pitcher Eric Geiger, who rushed a throw to first after fielding a bunt and the ball skipped into foul territory, allowing pinch-runner Isias Avalos to score from second. A sacrifice fly brought home the fourth run of the game.

North stretched its lead to 5-0 on an RBI double by Steven Pena in the fifth inning, a run that turned out to be the difference maker.

Look At Them Now: Darius Morris

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
7:12
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Darius MorrisJim O'Connor/US PresswireDarius Morris was a standout at Windward High School before moving to play at Michigan.

Year in an year out, the Southland sends a number of boys’ basketball players to college with scholarship offers in hand.

Most move on and compete at the highest of levels -- Division I. Others continue honing their skill sets at institutions a notch below, whether that be Division II or III, or a smaller NAIA program.

Anyway, we figured it was time to check in and provide an update on some of the individuals who first made a name for themselves in this neck of the woods before ultimately deciding to take their talents elsewhere.

One problem, where to begin?

The options are many, seemingly too many to count.

Let’s go ahead and start with Darius Morris. Just yesterday, it seems, the point guard was running the show at Los Angeles Windward High. It was actually 2009.

Things have certainly changed in a short period of time.

These days, Morris is the floor general for Michigan and it appears as if the Wolverines will go as far as the 6-foot-4 sophomore takes them. He leads the Big-10 Conference in assists per game with 7.28, a total that ranks fourth best in the nation.

“Going from high school to college, there’s an adjustment process, but with each game I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with my role here at Michigan,’’ Morris said. “Expectations are high, I’ve always been that way. You must have a different kind of mindset to do well at this level, and now, I understand the mental aspect of the game, as well as the physical. That’s been big for me.’’

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Inland Empire: Boys' basketball top 10

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
11:48
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The boys’ basketball season is two weeks old and the Inland Empire preseason rankings are holding strong, for the most part.

In a matchup of the I.E.’s top two teams, Etiwanda knocked off Corona Centennial, 68-64, on Dec. 4 in the championship of the Rose City Classic in Pasadena.

Here’s an updated top 10, with some key results and upcoming matchups.

1. Etiwanda, 7-0 (1) – In addition to the Eagles’ win against Centennial, they also knocked off tournament host Pasadena, 71-56, in a semifinal. Next up: Thursday vs. A.B. Miller at the Inland Empire Challenge.

2. Centennial, 6-2 (2) – The Huskies’ other loss was by four points to San Diego Lincoln, ranked 46th in the nation by ESPN RISE in the final of the Santa Monica tournament Saturday. Etiwanda is ranked No. 49 by the same publication. Centennial beat a talented Compton team, 81-76, in a semifinal. Next up: Thursday vs. Riverside King at Centennial.

3. Murrieta Valley, 8-0 (3) – Knocked off some decent competition, including Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (59-41), Elsinore (69-47) and Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos (68-57). Next up: Tuesday vs. Elsinore at Murrieta Valley.

4. Upland, 6-1 (5) – Fell to tournament host Mission Viejo in final of the Diablo Inferno tournament on Dec. 4. Earlier in the tournament, the Highlanders posted wins against Orange County mid-sized powers San Juan Hills and Corona del Mar. Up next: Thursday vs. Redlands East Valley at the Inland Empire Challenge.

5. Rancho Verde, 8-1 (7) – Beat Riverside Arlington, 57-44, on Saturday in the final of the Riverside Poly tournament. Also knocked off Redlands and Moreno Valley Canyon Springs en route to the title. Next up: Thursday vs. Moreno Valley Vista del Lago at Rancho Verde.

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Inland Empire: Boys basketball preview

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
12:43
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Top 10

1. Etiwanda – The Eagles return five of their top seven players from a team that lost by three points to Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA final. Byron Wesley, a 6-foot-5 small forward who has signed with USC, is one of the top players in the state. Running the point will be Jordan Daniels, undersized at 5-8 but a lightning-quick ball handler who is drawing interest from mid-major colleges.

2. Corona Centennial – The Huskies finished 25-5 last season, losing by six points to Etiwanda in a section quarterfinal. Dominique Dunning, a 6-4 wing who has signed with New Mexico, was the Big VIII League most valuable player last season and a first-team Division. I-AA selection. He’ll have plenty of support with the return of second-team senior guards Michael Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright.

3. Murrieta Valley – The Nighthawks return their top three players from last season’s team that won the Division 2AA title. Justin Gudger, a 6-4 senior forward, averaged a team-high 17 points and six rebounds and was named the Division 2AA player of the year. Austin Quick, a 6-3 senior guard, averaged 14.1 points before missing the postseason with a knee injury, and 6-1 senior guard Mark Tarabilda averaged 8.1.

4. Redlands East Valley – The Wildcats return their top three scorers, leading rebounder and top two assist leaders from a team that finished 17-11 last season. Paulin Mpawe, a 6-9 senior center who signed with Pepperdine, averaged 9.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks while earning first-team all-Citrus Belt League honors. Another first-teamer, 5-11 senior guard Terrell Todd, averaged a team-high 16.7 points, and 5-7 senior guard Greg Dishman averaged 10.1 points and 3.9 assists.

5. UplandJohn Gilliam, a 6-2 senior guard, returns after leading the 21-9 Highlanders to the Division 1AA quarterfinals. He averaged a team-high 21.2 points last season, and was named the Baseline League co-most valuable player and a Division 1AA first-team selection. Myles Pearson, a 5-11 junior guard also returns. He averaged 9.7 points last season and a team-high 2.7 assists.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
8:09
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Courtesy of Paul Moureaux
Barrington Collins had five touchdowns in Centennial's 45-0 win over Norco.

1. Corona Centennial has a lot of people wondering just how good the Huskies are after they trampled Norco, 45-0, in a Big VIII League game Friday night at Norco. The Huskies came in ranked No. 4 in the Southland by ESPNLA, but a closer looks indicates they might be a little under-rated. Centennial blew out Mater Dei, 44-13, in Week 2. Servite, ranked No. 1, escaped with a 21-14 victory over the Monarchs on Friday. And if that’s not enough of an indicator, Centennial defeated Temecula Chaparral, 45-12, on Sept. 24. A week later, the Friars defeated the Pumas, 28-7, and Chaparral was without two of its best players. Another comparison will come this weekend when the Huskies travel to Corona. Mission Viejo, ranked No. 3, beat the Panthers, 56-34, on Sept. 16.

2. What happened to Riverside King? The Wolves were looking really good after defeating Corona Santiago and Corona on back-to-back weeks last month. All they had to do was defeat Riverside Poly and Riverside North and they were a lock for an automatic playoff berth out of the Big VIII League. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the postseason, King was upset by Poly on Friday night, 45-39, dropping the Wolves into fifth place. The loss didn’t completely blow their chances for an automatic playoff bid, however, as Corona (5-3, 3-2) still has Corona Centennial and Norco on its schedule, while King (4-4, 2-3) has Eastvale Roosevelt and North. If the Panthers lose their final two games, as they should, and King splits its final two, the Wolves win the tiebreaker based on their head-to-head result with Corona.

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Inland Empire: Games of the week

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
4:01
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The Baseline League has been a breeding ground for top quarterbacks lately.

Richard Brehaut of UCLA (Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos), Josh Nunes of Stanford (Upland), Angel Santiago of Army (Etiwanda) and Greg Watson of Fresno State (Rancho Cucamonga) have all recently flipped their tassels.

Upland and Etiwanda are continuing the tradition.

The Highlanders (4-2, 1-0 in league), who are hosting Etiwanda in a key Baseline League game Friday night at 7 p.m., is led by Josh’s brother, Justin Nunes, who committed to UC Davis last month.

Nunes broke out of three-game stretch without a touchdown pass last weekend, throwing four in a 56-16 victory against Mira Loma Alta Loma.

Etiwanda (3-3, 1-0) leans on the right arm of Larry Cutbirth, who is emerging as one of the top junior quarterbacks in the region. Cutbirth has thrown 17 touchdowns this season, which is tied for seventh in the Southern Section.

Three more to see:

Riverside King (4-2, 2-1 in the Big VIII League) at Norco (5-1, 2-1), Friday – The four teams locked in a second-place tie meet up this weekend and this one figures to be the best. King running back Todd Handley and Norco running back Kelsey Young are two of the top ball carriers in Southern California and both should be handed the rock frequently. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Norco 31, King 30.

Corona (4-2, 2-1 in the Big VIII) at Eastvale Roosevelt (5-1, 2-1), Friday – Eric Kyle is quietly averaging nearly 130 rushing yards a game for Corona. Roosevelt running back Joey Legere has scored 15 touchdowns, which leads the Inland Division, and quarterback Aaron Crone has completed 60% of his passes this season, with just two interceptions. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Roosevelt 24, Corona 13.

San Bernardino Cajon (4-2, 3-0 in the San Andreas League) at Colton (5-1, 3-0), Friday – These teams have combined to win the last five SAL titles and it appears this season will be no different. Cajon will rely on dual-threat quarterback Thomas Carter. He'll be up against one of the top defenses in the Southland, anchored by linebacker Rodney Hardrick and defensive back Devan Hussey. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Colton 30, Cajon 20.

Inland Empire: The Top 10

October, 19, 2010
10/19/10
3:30
PM PT
The cream continues to rise to the top in the Inland Empire. Corona Centennial, Vista Murrieta, Norco and Fontana Kaiser averaged nearly 50 points in their victories last weekend, while allowing an average of 13. Redlands East Valley beat Redlands to take its spot in the top 10, and Riverside King did the same to Corona.

1. (1) Centennial, 6-0

The Huskies haven’t scored less than 44 points in a game this season, putting them on pace to outscore their basketball team. Last week: Beat Riverside North, 49-7. Next: vs. Corona Santiago, Friday.

2. (2) Vista Murrieta, 5-1

Well, the Southwestern League race was fun while at lasted, all 2 quarters worth. Now the Broncos can start thinking of ways to beat Centennial. Last week: Beat Temecula Chaparral, 45-17. Next: at Temecula Valley, Friday.

3. (3) Norco, 5-1

Somebody had to pay for Norco’s loss to Eastvale Roosevelt the week before and Corona Santiago just happened to be up next. Last week: Beat Santiago, 49-28. Next: vs. King, Friday.

4. (4) Kaiser, 6-0

The Cats posted their fourth shutout of the season last weekend. Maybe their defense can meet Centennial in a back alley somewhere? Last week: Beat Mira Loma Jurupa Valley, 55-0. Next: vs. Riverside Patriot at Riverside Rubidoux, Friday.

5. (5) Roosevelt, 5-1

The Roosevelt-Norco-Santiago triangle is complete, so ESPNLA.com doesn’t feel so bad about ranking Roosevelt behind Norco anymore. Last week: Beat Riverside Poly, 27-8. Next: vs. Corona, Friday.

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