Los Angeles Preps: Skylar Spencer

Windward's Stover nabs MVP at Collision

April, 24, 2012
Los Angeles Windward forward Nick Stover, a Loyola Marymount signee, earned most valuable player honors at the Collision XIV all-star game at El Camino College on Saturday night, leading the CIF Southern Section boys' team to a 113-106 victory against the City Section.

Stover had 19 points and San Diego State-bound forward Skylar Spencer of Price added 18 for the Southern Section, which won for the sixth time in the event's 14-year history. Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January had a game-high 24 for the City Section.

The City Section girls' team won its game, 68-67, after erasing an 18-point deficit. Pasadena Poly's Michelle Miller, who this season passed Lisa Leslie for third place on the Southern Section career scoring list, had 19 points.

Collision XIV scheduled for Saturday

April, 19, 2012
Top graduating girls' and boys' basketball players from the CIF Los Angeles City Section and Southern Section will be on display Saturday at the 2012 Collision XIV all-star games at El Camino College in Torrance.

The event features five games, headlined by the City Section versus Southern Section games at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Among those suiting up for the Southern Section boys' team will be Price teammates Skylar Spencer (San Diego State) and Khalil Johnson (Cal). Fairfax teammates Brendyn Taylor (USC) and Landon Drew (Cal State Northridge) will represent the City Section.

Alums of the event include Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Darren Collison (Indiana Pacers), Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons) and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).

The City boys lead the all-time series 8-5, while the Southern girls lead 11-2.

Source: Price's Johnson headed to Cal

April, 11, 2012
Los Angeles Price forward Khalil Johnson has committed to Cal and is set to sign with the Golden Bears this spring, according to a source.

Johnson, a versatile forward with a smooth lefty stroke, also considered Arizona State. The 6-foot-7 Johnson was a key contributor on a Price team that reached the CIF State Division IV championship last month. The Knights, though, lost to Salesian.

Price has produced its share of talent in recent years. Skylar Spencer, one of the area's top big men, is headed to San Diego State. Allen Crabbe, Cal's leading scorer as a sophomore last season, was the Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2011.

Price falls to Salesian in D-IV title game

March, 23, 2012

SACRAMENTO -- The Salesian boys' basketball team started out a little sluggish, but came away with the CIF State Division IV championship at Power Balance Pavilion on Friday afternoon.

Down 16-10 in the first quarter, Salesian came alive in the second quarter to take a one-point lead at halftime, build a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and went on to win, 70-56, over Price.

Salesian from Richmond (34-2) won its second CIF state championship and was making its second state final appearance in a row. The Pride lost to Windward in last year’s CIF State Division IV final. Coach Bill Mellis said playing in the championship game last year helped his players prepare for this year’s game.

“All week long, we knew what we were up against,” Mellis said. “We knew whoever came out of the south was going to be a tough challenge. The first half, they were getting the best of us.”

Price (27-8), the No. 16 team in the ESPN Los Angeles rankings, took advantage of its size in the first half and outrebounded Salesian, 22-17. Second-chance points helped Price build an early lead. Price had 16 offensive rebounds to Salesian’s nine.

But Salesian went to a zone defense and was able to keep Price off the boards in the second half, evening out the rebounds.

Price couldn’t make free throws either. The Knights were 14-for-32 from the free-throw line. Salesian wasn’t much better at 50 percent (14-for-28). When asked to comment on his team’s free-throw shooting in the game, Price coach Michael Lynch responded, “Do I have to?”

Not only did Price shoot 44 percent from the free-throw line, the Knights missed the front ends of one-and-ones and a few technical free throws.

“That’s how you get behind,” Lynch said. “I don’t know what happened tonight.”

Salesian’s Jabari Bird scored a game-high 24 points and was 10-of-16 from the field. Teammate Jermaine Edmonds was the only other player in double figures. He scored 10 points off the bench and played the fourth quarter with four fouls.

Khalil Johnson led Price with 17 points and was one of three players in double figures for the Knights. Trey Dickserson scored 15 points and Skylar Spencer had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Salesian capped a 27-game winning streak with the CIF state championship.

Spencer steps into big role for Price

March, 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- There was no shortage of high-profile post players in the Southland this season. The position, in fact, was seemingly the deepest it has been in recent years.

Attempting to determine who the best of the bunch was could prove to be a difficult task given the long list of candidates. A case can certainly be made for Skylar Spencer, considering the 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior from Los Angeles Price senior is the last man standing.

[+] EnlargeSkyler Spencer
Courtesy of Nick KozaSkyler Spencer has been consistent in his play and that is a big reason Price finds itself in the state title game.
While most of his highly regarded peers sit at home on Friday afternoon and wonder about what could have been, Spencer will suit up for the Knights (26-8 overall) and likely be the difference between winning and losing in the CIF state championship game against Richmond Salesian (33-2). The opening tip is at 1:30 p.m. in Sacramento at Power Balance Arena.

“I wouldn't trade Skylar for anybody out here,'' Price coach Michael Lynch said. “He's our captain, our leader on the team, we've been on his back so many times this year.''

If given the chance, many would choose Grant Jerrett from La Verne Lutheran as the premier player in the greater Los Angeles area. The senior and Arizona commit, after all, was recently named the Gatorade State Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.

North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan deserves consideration with regard to being mentioned in the same sentence as some of the Southland's best bigs. Also worth mentioning is Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January. Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede and La Verne Damien's Chris Reyes round out the well-rounded group.

Spencer can't be overlooked if winning is a criteria used in the conversation. The Knights were among the top programs in the ESPNLosAngeles Top 20 rankings this season with Spencer leading the way. Remember, Price played one of the more competitive schedules around.

“We did not back down from anyone, we'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere,'' Spencer said. “To be the best, you have to play the best. That's the way you have to think.''

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CIF state boys basketball finals preview

March, 21, 2012

Tim Haddock / For ESPNLosAngeles.com
Joe Shashaty scored 10 points and was one of four players from Village Christian who scored in double figures against Renaissance Academy in the Southern California Regional Division V final.

Division I

Mater Dei of Santa Ana vs. Sheldon of Sacramento

Mater Dei (33-2) has a 20-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since Jan. 7 to Gill St. Bernards from New Jersey. The Monarchs are the Southern Section Division 1A champions and won the Southern California Regional championship, 85-66, over the surprising Bullard team from Fresno. Mater Dei has won eight state championships and is in search of a record-setting ninth. Sheldon (29-5) has an 11-game winning streak and won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship, 49-44, over Jesuit. Sheldon played Jesuit again in the Northern California Regional final and won 61-56, erasing a 17-point deficit in the second quarter.

Division III

Alemany of Mission Hills vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco

After losing its Mission League finale to Harvard-Westlake, Alemany (32-4) has won nine playoff games in a row, including the Southern Section Division 3A championship, 72-60, over Oak Park. The Warriors had to hold off St. John Bosco in the Southern California Regional Division III final, 62-61, to advance to their first state championship game in school history. Nevada-bound Marqueze Coleman scored 24 points against St. John Bosco and had 31 against Cathedral Catholic from San Diego in the Southern California Regional semifinal. Sacred Heart Cathedral (28-5), the top seed in the Northern California Regional playoffs, beat Bishop O’Dowd, 61-57, in the Division III championship game. Josh Fox scored 21 points and had 13 rebounds for Sacred Heart. Taylor Johns had a double-double as well with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

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Price knocks off La Verne Lutheran

March, 13, 2012

LA VERNE -- It was as simple as this: Skylar Spencer didn't want his season to end. One free throw to tie, two to lead. Less than seven seconds remaining.

The San Diego State-bound forward sank both, pushing Los Angeles Price past La Verne Lutheran, 53-52, Tuesday night in the Southern California Regionals Division IV semifinals at the University of La Verne. Price will match up against top-seeded Gardena Serra, the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA champion, in the regional title game Saturday night at Ontario Colony High School.

Second-seeded Lutheran, a two-time defending state champion, had a chance to win with 6.9 seconds remaining, but McDonald's All-American Grant Jerrett fumbled a pass inside the paint before the final buzzer sounded.

"That last six-point-whatever seconds seemed like two minutes," Price coach Michael Lynch said. "When I saw that ball fumbled away, I lost it."

Lutheran (25-8) took a 52-51 lead with 32.8 seconds remaining after Jerrett made one of two free throws. Lynch called a timeout and, on the ensuing possession, Spencer pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled hard.

He composed himself and took the biggest free throws of his life.

"I knew I had to at least make one but I was worried about making two," said Spencer, who finished with 11 points and five blocked shots. "I didn't want my season to end. I didn't want the game to go into overtime."

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Price beats Windward a third time

February, 21, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Price boys' basketball coach Michael Lynch poked his head out the locker room door Tuesday night, peered down the hallway and, finally, cracked a smile that screamed relief.

After Price defeated visiting Windward, 76-62, for the third time this season, Lynch could finally exhale.

"It's incredibly tough to beat a team three times," Lynch said. "Windward coach [Miguel] Villegas is a really good coach and he’s got a good team. We knew we were in for a war. Really, I wouldn’t have scheduled them had I known what the divisions would be like."

Fourth-seeded Price (22-7) advanced to face top-seeded Gardena Serra in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA semifinals on Friday night, with the winner moving on to play the winner of Crespi-La Verne Lutheran in the title game at Anaheim Arena. The Knights had beaten Windward, 69-64, in the Santa Monica Tournament on Dec. 7 and again, 65-41, at the Fairfax State Preview Classic on Jan. 28.

But there was much at stake in the third meeting. Price's two prior victories would mean nothing without a third.

"Every time you play a team you want to pretend like it’s your first time playing them," said Price senior forward Skylar Spencer, who had 14 points and five blocks.

Teammate Kahlil Johnson scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, and put an exclamation point on the game with back-to-back breakaway dunks in the final moments. He sank two 3-pointers late in the first half to pace the Knights to a 37-32 lead at intermission.

"Kahlil is a shooter," Lynch said. "He can really shoot the basketball. Once he gets on a roll and feels it, the ball is going down."

The third time wasn't the charm for the Windward Wildcats (20-9). They closed to within two late in the third quarter despite the absence of leading scorer Nick Stover, who was whistled for his fourth foul just two minutes into the second half.

"At halftime we talked about [Stover] having three fouls," Lynch said. "We said, ‘Whoever he’s guarding, we’re going at him.’ The referees were calling the game pretty straight up on both sides. We knew they’d blow the whistle if we really attacked him."

Stover, a Loyola Marymount signee, finished with only 13 points, well below his average of 22 per game. Guard Jordan Wilson had 14, and Luke Silverman-Lloyd and Charles Dawson each had 10 for the Wildcats.

"We knew the third time would be the hardest," Johnson said. "And it was."

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

Price heats up late, routs Notre Dame

February, 17, 2012

SHERMAN OAKS -- The Notre Dame boys' basketball team jumped out to an early lead against visiting Price in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs, but playing on consecutive nights proved to be too much.

Price went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter and eliminated host Notre Dame, 66-47, Friday night.

Because of icy roads and snow, Notre Dame had to postpone its first-round playoff game against Paraclete from Lancaster on Wednesday night. Notre Dame beat Paraclete on Thursday night, its first win in 14 games, but had to turn around and play Price, the fourth-seeded team in the Division 4AA playoffs.

“You want to have a day to prepare. I think that definitely worked against us tonight,” said Notre Dame coach Bill Bedgood. “They’re a great team. If we had two or three nights to prepare for them, it was going to be tough. I think playing back to back is not ideal in the playoffs. It definitely looked like we ran out of gas tonight.”

It was Bedgood’s last game as Notre Dame coach after announcing his retirement last week. But Bedgood said his team’s first-round win over Paraclete was a great way to end his coaching career.

Price (21-7), meanwhile, looked like the team playing its second game in two nights. The two teams scrapped in the first quarter as Notre Dame took a slim 9-5 lead.

But Price turned things around in the second quarter to take a 27-22 lead at halftime. Price’s defensive pressure forced Notre Dame into making turnovers. It was a sign of things to come in the third quarter.

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Price blitzes Windward in second half

January, 28, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- A shift in gameplan was the key in Price's 65-41 win against Windward on Saturday afternoon at the Fairfax State Preview Classic.

The Knights played a smothering style of basketball after halftime, outscoring the Wildcats 26-5 in the third quarter. Junior guard Chance Murray netted a game-high 14 points and Price (17-5) had three others score in double digits.

"Coach [Michael] Lynch put an emphasis on us getting to the basket," Murray said.

Price has won six straight since losing at the Brandon Jennings Invitational in Milwaukee, an experience that, according to Murray, was valuable.

"Now we don't want to lose any more games," he said.

Windward has lost three of its last four. Point guard Charles Dawson had 12 points. The Wildcats actually held a 26-23 lead at the break, but they couldn't keep up with the Knights' run-and-gun tempo.

"That's the game we like to play," said Skylar Spencer, who had 10 points and altered a number of shots on the defensive end.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball roundup

January, 17, 2012
La Verne Lutheran beat Orange Lutheran, 61-58, in a matchup between two of the best teams in Southern California. Top senior Grant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran dealt with early foul trouble but the Trojans earned a hard-fought road victory.

Elsewhere, Kajon Mack had a game-high 32 points to help Gardena Serra (16-2) beat Santa Monica, 63-56, in the finale of the MLK Day Hoops Showdown at Price High School. Daddy Ugbede added 12 points and eight rebounds. Santa Monica stormed back from a large deficit with a 28-point fourth quarter but by then it was too late. Los Angeles Price (13-5) held off Palm Springs, 62-57, thanks to 17 points and 13 rebounds from Skylar Spencer.

At the Los Osos Shootout in Rancho Cucamonga, Damien improved to 16-1 with a 52-47 victory against Ventura. Chris Reyes scored 18 points for Damien. Pacific Hills (16-3) beat Chino Hills, 69-55, behind Marcus Jackson's 22 points. Bishop Amat got past Chino, 51-42, while Glendora blew out Claremont, 68-48.

In another non-league game, Bishop Montgomery (15-3) defeated Valencia, 71-53.

Price saved by the bell against Serra

January, 15, 2012
The headliner from Saturday's Johnnie L. Cochran Classic at LACES more than lived up to its billing, but it appears as if folks were robbed of overtime basketball.

Gardena Serra seemed to send its game against Los Angeles Price into overtime with a tying shot at the buzzer. Or at least it looks like it in this Los Angeles Times highlight video. Emmanual Ndumanya's shot was waved off, and Price escaped with a 49-47 victory.

It was a dizzying affair between a pair of legitimate CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA contenders. Serra (15-2) fell behind 22-4 before storming back with a 25-2 run to assume a five-point lead at the half.

Price (12-5) didn't score again until late in the third quarter, allowing Serra to go up by as many as 13. But the Knights responded with an 11-0 spurt to start the fourth quarter, and it was a seesaw battle from there.

Chance Murray had 22 points to lead Price, while San Diego State-bound big man Skylar Spencer had double-digit blocks.

Daddy Ugbede led Serra with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Both teams return to action Monday at the MLK Day Hoops Showdown, hosted by Price. The Knights play Palm Springs (10-5) at 5 p.m., while Serra meets Santa Monica (11-5) at 8 p.m.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

L.A. teams take S.D. by storm

January, 8, 2012
Four of the five boys' basketball teams that traveled south on Interstate 5 Saturday emerged with victories in the second annual San Diego vs. Los Angeles Hoops Challenge.

Woodland Hills Taft beat showcase host San Diego Lincoln, 52-48. The Toreadors (11-3) blew a 15-point lead but showed resilience. Taft junior guard Chris Yanku had 16 points, including two clutch free throws to ice it with six seconds left.

Gardena Serra (13-1) beat St. Augustine, 60-48, behind 18 points each from seniors Dakarai Tucker and Daddy Ugbede. La Verne Lutheran (12-4) defeated La Costa Canyon, 62-47. Windward (12-5) got 31 points from Nick Stover to beat Francis Parker, 71-59.

Compton Centennial beat Horizon, 57-46. Long Beach Jordan was the only L.A. representative to lose, doing so to Torrey Pines, 50-48.

Other action involving south Los Angeles County schools:

In the feature game of the second annual Under Armour Brandon Jennings Invitational in Milwaukee, Wis., L.A. Price (11-5) lost to Baltimore Patterson, 85-76. San Diego State-bound Skylar Spencer had 14 points and 12 blocks.

Dorsey (13-5) won its seventh straight game, beating Fremont, 72-46, for the Gold Division championship in the Huntington Park tournament. L.A. Franklin (12-5) needed all of Zach Hinton's 28 points to beat LACES, 62-61, in overtime for the Silver Division crown. Garfield (14-3) beat Locke 79-65 to claim the Bronze Division title.

Crenshaw (11-3) couldn't knock off streaking Etiwanda (15-1), losing 63-56 at The Great Inland Empire Shootout in Rialto.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
Loyola, Long Beach Poly and La Verne Lutheran are ranked in the preseason POWERADE ESPNHS Fab 50 national rankings, and they lead the way in our opening edition of the south Los Angeles County boys' basketball top 10:

1. Loyola (4-0)
Key players: PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, SG Justin Childress, SG Jacob Hazzard, SF Julian Harrell (Penn)
Last season: The Cubs went 25-6 and won the CIF-Southern Section Div. I-A championship before losing by two to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Jackson-Cartwright, only a sophomore, is already considered the top point guard in the state. Mix in the shooting of Childress and Hazzard -- as well as the versatility of Harrell -- and the Cubs have a lineup that few can match.

2. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
Key players: SF Roschon Prince, PF Jordan Bell, PG Chris Croom, SG Reuben Strickland
Last season: The Jackrabbits posted a 30-2 record and captured the Division 1AA title in Anaheim before losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer lost his top two to graduation -- state player of the year Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) -- but there's more than enough talent left. Prince and Bell might be the best one-two combination in the county.

3. La Verne Lutheran (4-0)
Key players: PF Grant Jerrett (Arizona), SG Eric Cooper Jr. (Arizona), SF McKay Anderson, SG Cameron Osorno
Last season: The Trojans overcame off-the-court adversity, finishing with a 25-5 mark and a second consecutive state championship.
Why they're here: Jerrett, a long and lean power forward, is arguably the top prospect on the West Coast. Coach Eric Cooper Sr. returns nine letter-winners from last year's team, including son Eric Cooper Jr., a sharp-shooting junior who makes teams pay for double-teaming Jerrett down low.

4. St. John Bosco (4-0)
Key players: SG Isaac Hamilton, PF Anthony January (UTEP), SF Darryl Matthews, SG Daniel Hamilton
Last season: The Braves finished 21-9 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4AA playoffs.
Why they're here: New coach Derrick Taylor, who built Woodland Hills Taft into a City Section power, has the Braves thinking about the Trinity League crown. Getting past defending state champion Mater Dei won't be easy, but Bosco has Isaac Hamilton, a transfer from Crenshaw who is one of the nation's top juniors.

5. Price (3-1)
Key players: PF Skylar Spencer (San Diego State), PG Chance Murray, SG Chris Sandifer
Last season: The high-flying Knights went 24-8 and fell just short against La Caņada in the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship game.
Why they're here: Yes, Price lost guard Askia Booker (Colorado) and ultra athletic forward Norvel Pelle to graduation but don't dismiss coach Michael Lynch's bunch. Spencer is another high-soaring scorer who's lethal in fast break opportunities, and Murray, a junior, already has a scholarship offer from UCLA.

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