Los Angeles Preps: Shawn Joseph

1. A surprise early leader has emerged in the Big VIII League, as Roosevelt is the lone unbeaten team after three games. Despite a pair of three-game losing streaks this season, the Mustangs (8-7, 3-0) have won the three that counted, knocking off Norco, Riverside Poly and Corona in league play -- the two most recent wins by double digits. Roosevelt doesn’t have a go-to guy on offense. Senior guards Kendall Brown (11.1 ppg), Shawn Joseph (10.5), Jalen Young (8.2) and Jevion Roland (8.0) have taken turns leading the team in scoring this season. Tonight’s another big test for the Mustangs, as they host preseason league favorite J.W. North (11-4, 2-1) at 6 p.m.

2. The Mt. Baldy League was expected to be a two-horse race between Colony and Montclair, but Don Lugo staked a claim Friday night with a 72-70 victory against visiting Colony, only its second league loss in the last 64 games. Now the Conquistadors (10-4, 2-0) have a date tonight at Montclair (14-1, 2-0) at 6:30 p.m., with the winner taking sole possession of first place. With the recent domination of Colony in the Mt. Baldy League, the Conquistadors haven’t been in this position in a long time. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off another big win.

3. Palm Desert tuned up for Wednesday’s showdown at Palm Springs with a 72-43 victory Friday night at Coachella Valley. The Aztecs (10-3, 2-0) have dropped five straight Desert Valley League games against the Indians (8-4, 2-0), including their only two league losses the last two seasons. They ramped up for this occasion with a strong nonleague schedule. Most impressive was a 15-point loss Dec. 10 against the state’s top-ranked team, Mater Dei, when Palm Desert trailed by just four points at the start of the fourth quarter. Lakers coach Mike Brown, whose son, Elijah, plays for the Monarchs, reportedly took the time afterward to compliment the Aztecs on their effort.

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Big VIII, Mojave River, Mt. Baldy

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
3:27
PM PT
BIG VIII LEAGUE

Where they stand: Each team played a league game in mid-December. They resume play tonight with the following schedule: J.W. North @ Corona Centennial; Corona Santiago @ Norco; Corona @ Riverside King; Roosevelt @ Riverside Poly.

Last year’s finish: Centennial (14-0); Roosevelt (12-2); Corona (8-6); J.W. North (7-7); Santiago (6-8); Poly (5-9); King (3-11); Norco (1-13).

Players to watch: Aaron Peck (J.W. North), 6-4, Sr., F; Dorian Butler (J.W. North), 6-5, Jr., F; Marcus Baugh (J.W. North), 6-5, Jr., F; Deshon Taylor (J.W. North), 6-0, So., G; Sam Finley (Centennial), 6-2, Jr., G; Sedrick Barefield (Centennial), 6-0, Fr., G; Dorion Barnett (Santiago), 6-3, Jr., F; Alex Blumenfeld (Santiago), 6-0, Sr., G; Marcos Hazelwood (Corona), 6-1, Sr., F; Jeremiah Abdelmeesh (Norco), 6-2, Sr., F; Kendall Brown (Roosevelt), 6-4, Sr., G; Jalen Young (Roosevelt), 6-5, Sr., G; Shawn Joseph (Roosevelt), 6-3, Sr., G; Noah Prouse (Poly), 6-6, Sr., F; Jeff Gonzalez (Poly), 6-6, Sr., F; Brandon Pippenger (King), 6-8, Sr., C; Nikko Turner (King), 5-8, Sr., G; Mark Wilson (King), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: J.W. North, King, Poly, Centennial, Corona, Roosevelt, Santiago, Norco.

MOJAVE RIVER LEAGUE

Where they stand: Already tightly bunched after a handful of MRL games in mid-December, league play resumes tonight with Oak Hills @ Hesperia and Apple Valley @ Sultana. Serrano plays Friday @ Hesperia.

Last year’s finish: Sultana (10-2); Oak Hills (9-3); Hesperia (5-7); Serrano (6-7); Apple Valley (1-11).

Players to watch Daaron Flagg (Sultana), 6-4, Sr., G; Robmar Porter (Sultana), 6-4, Sr., F; Brian Enriquez (Sultana), 6-2, So., G; Chrishtian Buttler (Sultana), 5-9, Sr., G, Denzel McCloney (Serrano), 6-0, Sr., G; Timmall Thomas (Serrano), 5-10, Jr., G; Daniel Davis (Oak Hills), 6-4, Sr., F; J.T. Roach (Apple Valley), 6-3, Jr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Sultana, Oak Hills, Serrano, Apple Valley, Hesperia.

MT. BALDY LEAGUE

Where they stand: Half the teams got a head start on league play before the holidays. They all play Friday night, with Don Lugo @ Colony, Chino @ Chaffey and Garey @ Montclair.

Last year’s finish: Colony (11-1); Montclair (10-2); Ontario (8-5); Don Lugo (7-5); Garey (4-8); Chino (1-11); Chaffey (1-11).

Players to watch: Miles Poullard (Colony), 6-2, Sr., G; Everett Turner (Colony), 6-0, Jr., G; Devyn Sampson (Montclair), 6-3, Sr., G; Bobby Talamantes (Montclair), 5-9, Sr., G; Jody Smith (Montclair), 6-1, Jr., G; Marciano Rogers (Ontario), 6-3, Sr., G; Devonte Turner (Ontario), 6-3, Sr., G; Eric Ortiz (Ontario), 6-1, Sr., G; Josh Thompson (Don Lugo), 6-4, Sr., G; Jon Garnica (Chino), 6-1, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Colony, Montclair, Ontario, Don Lugo, Chino, Garey, Chaffey.

Up next: Baseline, Mountain Pass and Southwestern leagues.

I.E.: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
6:37
PM PT
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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Inland Empire: Boys basketball games of the week

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
3:00
PM PT
Upland (14-9, 3-4) at Etiwanda (23-1, 7-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – With the return of last season’s Baseline League co-MVP John Gilliam, who would have thought Upland would be scrambling for a playoff spot heading into the last two weeks of the regular season? But the Highlanders have dropped four of their last six league games and face a tough stretch run.

Rialto Eisenhower (14-7) vs. Los Angeles Fairfax (14-8) at Santa Ana Mater Dei, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Eisenhower coach Steve Johnson said last month that he planned to use this Nike Extravaganza game as a measuring stick to find out how far his team has progressed. The Eagles lost to Fairfax, 56-33, on Dec. 21, the start of four losses in five games, but seem to have righted the ship. Ontario Colony is also entered in the showcase. The Titans play Huntington Beach Ocean View at 11 a.m.

Big Bear (15-7, 6-2) at Twentynine Palms (16-6, 7-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Twentynine Palms senior forward Zach Hill went for a season-high 22 points in leading the visiting Wildcats to a 59-54 victory against Big Bear three weeks ago in their first DeAnza League meeting. One more and they’ll clinch at least a share of the league title. A loss will likely create a three-way tie for first with Desert Hot Springs (13-9, 6-2).

Eastvale Roosevelt (15-5, 9-1) at Corona (15-6, 7-3) – Corona led by six points entering the fourth quarter when these teams met Jan. 10 but ended up losing, 57-49. Much of Roosevelt’s damage in that game was done by junior guard Shawn Joseph, who scored a season-high 17 points. With a win, the Mustangs can lock up at least second place in the Big VIII League and remain within a game of first-place Corona Centennial (19-3, 10-0).

Redlands Adventist (16-4, 9-2) at Bloomington Christian (16-6, 10-1), Tonight, 6 p.m. –In this small-school special, second place will be on the line in the Victory League. Redlands Adventist is ranked second in Division 6A, and Bloomington Christian is No. 15 in Division 5A. Bloomington Christian won the first meeting, 51-37. Bermuda Dunes Desert Christian Academy sits in first at 17-2, 11-0.

Looking ahead:

San Bernardino vs. San Bernardino Cajon at Cardinal City Arena, Monday, 7:30 p.m.

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