Los Angeles Preps: Villa Park

1. With a week left in the regular season, Sonora called on sophomore catcher Andrew Piraino to make his varsity pitching debut, and he responded with a 2-0 shutout of Freeway League leader La Habra. Sonora trails the Highlanders by a game with two remaining. Piraino pitched a four-hitter.

2. One of the outstanding swim performances of the weekend belonged to Villa Park's B.J. Churnside, who clocked 20.57 seconds in the 50 freestyle—the eighth-best time in county history—and 46.35 in the 100 free to win Century League boys' titles. Tiny Irvine Crean Lutheran is making some noise on the girls' side as freshman Ella Eastin clocked 2:01.65 for the eighth-best eighth-best 200 individual medley in county history, and teammate Lindsey Engel turned in the sixth-fastest 50 free in 23.30 in the Academy League finals.

3. There will be a new champion in lacrosse as Corona del Mar remained undefeated by beating five-time defending champion Foothill, 7-5, in the U.S. Lacrosse Division 1 South semifinals on Saturday. The top-seeded Sea Kings (22-0) won behind Casey Mix and Michael Keasey, who had three goals apiece, and Michael Ortleib's 13 saves against the fourth-seeded Knights. CdM will face San Clemente (15-6) in the finals on Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Dana Hills High. San Clemente beat Santa Margarita, 12-11, on Peyton Garrett's sudden death overtime goal. Robbie Burns had five goals for San Clemente, which trailed 11-8 after three quarters.

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1. Laguna Hills set an Orange County record by winning its 25th consecutive league title, the Hawks emerging atop the South Coast League Finals on Saturday. All 14 wrestlers qualified to the Central Division meet, where Laguna Hills will try to win an eight straight section title. Seven wrestlers won league championships: Martin Garcia (108), Andre Cabrera (134), Miguel Ramirez (140), Wyond Mills (147), Joe Applegate (154), Jason Newcomer (162) and Joaquin Alejo (287).

2. One of the year's best rivalries on the wrestling mat has been between Century League heavyweights David Trujillo of Villa Park and Carl Hulick of Esperanza. They are ranked 1-2 in Orange County, with Trujillo winning their first two matches. But in the Century League finals, Hulick emerged victorious, 3-2, by virtue of his third period takedown.

3. Across the board, Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar may have the greatest rivalry in Orange County. On Saturday, the schools' two elite water polo programs faced each other in the finals of the Southern California Championships, where Newport scored a 6-5 victory over the section's top-ranked Division 1 team. Carly Christian's three goals led the way for the second-ranked Sailors (21-4), who shut out the Sea Queens for almost 11 minutes in the middle of the second half. It was only the second loss for CdM (23-2), which had beaten Newport in their first three meetings of this season.

4. Mater Dei and Brea Olinda both lost girls' basketball games -- in Orange County -- in the same week! Usually if that happens, it's during a national tournament week in December such as the Tournament of Champions. But Mater Dei lost on Friday to Los Angeles Windward, 65-62, the state's No. 2 team losing to the No. 1. Earlier in the week, Brea was trounced by Anaheim Canyon, 64-46, behind Lindsay Uyematsu's 21 points and Christina Salvatore's 18.

5. Esperanza might be O.C.'s most exciting boys' basketball team right now. The Aztecs defeated Anaheim Canyon, avenging an earlier loss by scoring a uncommonly low-scoring game, 42-38, thanks to a 19-4 advantage in the fourth quarter. Jack Bazan led the way with 17 points, and Dillon Wasinack had seven. The Aztecs have played five games in a row decided by four points or less. Esperanza (16-8) has victories this season over Foothill (21-5), Canyon (20-6), Villa Park (15-11), Tustin (19-6), Woodbridge (18-7), and Trabuco Hills (15-10).
1. Mission Viejo won its 18th in a row on Saturday, sending Victorville Victor Valley to its 17th straight defeat, but the Diablos (18-1) almost saw their streak end on Friday night. They won at El Toro, 76-72, after trailing in the fourth quarter of the South Coast League game. Evan Zeller led the way with 30 points, and Michael Cramer had 19 as the Diablos overcame a 54-49 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The victory sets the stage for a showdown Wednesday at Capistrano Valley (17-2). That place will be rocking. Both teams are undefeated in league.

2. In what turned out to be the marquee game of the the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase, Jojo Ballestero hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Canyon a 65-62 victory over Huntington Beach. Ballestero wasn't even the first option on the play. Ballestero led Canyon (15-4) with 23 points, which was enough to overcome the game-high 32 points scored by Harley Ruder of Huntington Beach. In other Showcase games, Redondo Union beat Edison, 59-49; Villa Park beat Los Alamitos, 62-52; Palm Springs beat Cerritos Gahr, 65-39; and Mission Viejo beat Victor Valley, 84-45.

3. Three Orange Country wrestlers won championships Saturday in the prestigious Five Counties meet. In the heavyweight division, Villa Park's David Trujillo scored a 3-2 victory in the finals against Esperanza's Carl Hulick, the second time this season that Trujillo has beaten his Century League rival by that score. Juan Hernandez of Capistrano Valley won the championship at 195 pounds, and Edison's Greg Meline won the title at 171.

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Looking to see some good basketball and help a good cause at the same time? Consider heading over to Villa Park for the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase.

The only team that appears in the ESPNLA top 20 is Mission Viejo, which appears in the big mismatch of the day; the Diablos, winners of 17 in a row, face Victorville Victor Valley, which has lost 16 in a row.

Remember, it's for a good cause. The event raises money for the Leukemia Society, St. Joseph Cancer Center, and Hoag Hospital Cancer Center.

Here's the schedule for games on Saturday.
  • Huntington Beach Edison (15-3) vs. Redondo (7-8), 2 p.m.
  • Anaheim Canyon (14-4) vs. Huntington Beach (10-8), 3:30 p.m.
  • Palm Springs (9-5) vs. Cerritos Gahr (11-6), 5 p.m.
  • Villa Park (10-8) vs. Los Alamitos (9-9), 6:30 p.m.
  • Victor Valley (1-16) vs. Mission Viejo (17-1), 8 p.m.

O.C.: Games of the week

November, 23, 2011
No. 1 Servite (10-1) vs. Tesoro (7-4) at Orange Coast College, Friday, 7 p.m.
Servite is 38-3 over the past three seasons, so it's going to take a great effort to beat the Pac-5's top-seeded Friars with their efficient offense led by Cody Pittman (14 TDs, 2 int.) and tough defense led by linebacker Butch Pauu. Can Tesoro do it? The Nate Tago-led Titans, who have 16 starters who are underclassmen, gave away a game to Mission Viejo three weeks ago and upset Sunset League champion Edison last week. If Tesoro can bring a similar effort, and stay focused for four full quarters, it has a chance; anything less and Servite will advance to the semifinals for the fifth time in seven years.

San Clemente (10-1) at St. John Bosco (8-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
San Clemente hasn't had much success against Trinity League opponents in past Pac-5 playoff games; after picking up their first playoff victory since 2005 (in Division II), the Tritons would have felt much more comfortable if this was a home game. It's not. They'll need to be physical and disciplined, and withstand the emotional crest that Bosco will be riding at the outset. Travis Wilson threw four touchdown passes last week in a win over Lakewood; the winner of this game will have to score at least four touchdowns.

Santa Margarita (9-2) vs. 3 Long Beach Poly (10-1) at Veterans Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
A pretty good argument could be made that Santa Margarita should have been one of the seeded teams, and this is where the Eagles can prove it. They face a Poly team that is trying to restore its glory and play with the old Poly attitude, but the Eagles have reached back, too. Quarterback Johnny Stanton (8 TDs passing, 17 TDs rushing) seems unstoppable, but it's going to take some defensive stands to determine the winner. Santa Margarita couldn't make those stands against Servite, but Poly is 0-2 the last two seasons against Trinity League opponents in the Pac-5 playoffs.

No. 2 Mission Viejo (9-2) at Huntington Beach (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Another great opportunity for the Oilers to prove they are among the elite teams. They beat Loyola last week, but can add a much bigger trophy if they can outscore Mission Viejo's Buzzy Yokoyama (8 TDs in five games) and Alex Bridgford (21 TD, 15 int.). That's easier said than done, but playing at home will help. Huntington Beach will need a big night from QB Michael Chislock (24 TDs, 5 int.) and the defense to advance in the Pac-5 playoffs.

No. 1 Villa Park (11-0) at Tustin (8-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
Outside of the Pac-5, this is the game that Orange County will be watching. Villa Park is OC's last undefeated team, but its roster of opponents has cast questions about the validity of drawing the top-seeded position and whether it should be regarded as one of the county's top 10 teams. This game should answer at least the first question. Led by Tyler Siudzinski, (17 TDs, 140 yards/game), Tustin was beat up during the season, largely because of the caliber of opponent it plays, but the Tillers are healthy again and hoping to reach their third final in four years. One thing that's not open for debate: Villa Park, with Nick Privitelli (14 TDs, 111 yards/game) and Blair Boyce (21 TDs, 6 int.) is more balanced as it tries to avenge its loss in last year's playoffs.

No. 4 Cypress (9-2) at Foothill (7-4), Saturday, 7 p.m.
The only things standing between Foothill and ana eight-game winning streak is an overtime loss to Villa Park and a Hail Mary in the Century League finale against Brea Olinda. Foothill is one of the sleeper picks of the playoffs, but to advance they will have their hands full trying to stop Vincent "Bug" Rivera, who rushed for 348 yards last week in Cypress' 34-14 victory over over Laguna Hills.
CIF-SS Playoffs
Southwest Division

The first surprise in the division is that La Habra isn't the No. 1-seeded team. Of course, once the Highlanders began losing to Trinity League opponents in a gauntlet no other team in the division would dare attempt, they suffered in the rankings. It may be irrelevant since it's on the opposite bracket as Villa Park, but make no mistake: four-time defending champion La Habra -- winner of six titles in the last nine years -- is the team to beat.

The seeds: 1. Villa Park (10-0), 2. La Habra (7-3), 3. El Toro (9-1), 4. Cypress (8-2).

Best first-round matchup: Esperanza (7-3) vs. El Toro (9-1) at Trabuco Hills HS -- Fourth-seeded El Toro has a great passing attack led by Conner Manning (271 yards/game, 26 TDs, 4 int.), but Esperanza is physical and counters with a terrific ground game paced by Troy Poole (176 yards/game, 18 TDs). This is a clash of styles that makes for a great opening round.

Toughest road: Laguna Hills (7-2) -- The Hawks won seven games but finished in a three-way tie for second place and carry a two-game losing streak into the playoffs. A few weeks ago, they were challenging for one of the seeded positions. They might have improved their lot if they had beaten more than just one opponent with a winning record. Now they must not only face a seasoned Cypress team led by Vincent "Bug" Rivera in the first round, but either Buena Park (8-2) or, more likely, Foothill in the second; Foothill (6-4) lost to top-seeded Villa Park in overtime, to Brea Olinda (8-2) on a game-ending Hail Mary, and to run-oriented Tustin (7-3) on a pair of bombs.

Potential shocker: Capistrano Valley (3-7) vs. Brea Olinda (8-2) -- Capo Valley lost three Sea View League games by a combined three points, and two of those -- to El Toro and Laguna Hills -- were in overtime. The Cougars also gave Pac-5 opponent Trabuco Hills (6-4) all it could handle in a 28-21 loss. The point is that Capo Valley hasn't been able to buy a break; if its luck changes, it could beat Brea before facing La Habra.

Darkhorse: Tustin (7-3), led by running back Tyler Siudzinski (129 yards/game, 13 TDs) was in a three-way tie for first place in the Empire League but then lost out on the coin flip and was relegated to the third-place entry. The Tillers were banged up in midseason which hurt them, but they beat fourth-seeded Cypress, 42-21, two weeks ago. Also, they gave Upland (10-0), the third-seeded team in the Inland Division, a pretty good tussle in a nonleague game: the Tillers led, 20-17, late in the third quarter. Tustin is in the same quarter bracket as Villa Park, and that's not the opponent that the top-seeded team was looking for in the second round. And guess who beat Villa Park in last year's semis? Tustin.

Final analysis: There are plenty of teams that could challenge for the title, though most seem to agree that Villa Park and La Habra are the class of the division, and everyone else is lumped together with minimal separation.

Championship prediction: La Habra won't see any team that's better than the three that it lost to in successive weeks -- Servite (24-16), Orange Lutheran (30-24, OT) and St. John Bosco (41-6). Villa Park isn't nearly so seasoned; it didn't play a nonleague opponent with a winning record, and it played only one game closer than 28 points (the overtime win over Foothill). The Spartans outscored their last three Century League opponents, 156-7, but the playoffs are played at a different level. A healthy Tustin playing at home in the second round could very well spoil Villa Park's season. Meanwhile, La Habra has played all season with its backup quarterback, Sean Sparling, and may get its starter Cole Wolterman (broken leg) by the time the finals roll around. They have the best defensive player in the division in Aaron Porter, and they have a multi-dimensional offense that includes Brett Bartolone. The drive for five will thrive: La Habra 35, Tustin 21.

Link to the Southwest Division playoff bracket on CalPreps.com
1. A week after a stunning fourth quarter comeback -- down 28-0 -- Aliso Niguel might have had El Toro right where it wanted. Well, not really. The Wolverines were no match for El Toro, which scored 27 points in less than six minutes in the second quarter en route to a 47-0 Sea View League victory. Jacob Furnari and Conner Manning led the way for El Toro (7-1, 2-0). Furnari had 20 carries for 286 yards -- more than half of the 534 he had gained though the first six games -- and three touchdowns; Manning completed 12 of 20 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Aliso (5-2, 1-1), which was ranked No. 10 in the Southwest Division going into the game, isn't ranked now. El Toro is ranked No. 5, but another Sea View team, Laguna Hills (6-0, 1-0), is No. 4. Don't let the rankings throw you; El Toro is the team to beat. They play in the season finale on Nov. 11.

2. Anything can happen, but it's unlikely, and that means that Huntington Beach should have secured a place in the Pac-5 playoffs with a 35-7 Sunset League victory over Newport Harbor. It's the program's first victory over the Sailors since 1991 -- back when Tony Gonzalez was at the school -- as Michael Chislock ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more; he threw for 356 yards. The Oilers' next two games are against teams expected to finish ahead of them in the standings, Edison and Los Alamitos, before finishing with Fountain Valley.

3. For the same reason, Tesoro's victory over Trabuco Hills (5-3, 0-2) was huge. The Titans (5-2, 1-0) should have punched their ticket into the playoffs with a decisive 26-14 South Coast League victory. They should secure at least third place in the five-team league, contending with No. 9 San Clemente (8-0, 2-0) and No. 8 Mission Viejo (5-2, 1-0). Maybe the biggest statistic of the night was Tesoro holding Trabuco Hills running back Mitchell Simonsen to 14 yards on eight carries; he had been averaging more than 140 yards per game. Also big was the commitment to the ground game by Tesoro; Nate Tago carried 20 times for 134 yards and a score, and Blake Rodgers carried 11 times for 100 with two touchdowns. Matt Adam attempted only 10 passes (three of 10, 27 yards. The constant pounding paid dividends; Tesoro led at halftime, 6-0.

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Two leagues in Orange County began playing for keeps over the weekend.

In the Century League, Villa Park and Brea Olinda both won to remain undefeated through five games -- Villa Park beat Esperanza and Brea beat El Dorado. It's hard to know exactly how good those teams are: Villa Park's four nonleague opponents are 3-17; Brea's four nonleague opponents are 7-13. Don't be surprised if Foothill (3-2) makes a darkhorse run, though.

In the Empire League, Yorba Linda (5-0), Cypress (4-1) and Tustin (3-2) opened with victories. Next week could go a long way toward determining the league champion: Tustin plays host to Yorba Linda (which has its first senior class this season) on Friday.

Still, no league title figures to be determined without Cypress having a say. The Centurions have one of the most dynamic players in the league, senior running back Vincent "Bug" Rivera (5 feet 7, 185), who has scored as many touchdowns through five games (16) as he did in all of 2010. His coach, Mike Cobleigh, told the Orange County Register, "I think he could start anywhere in the county."

In the Southern Section Southwest Division rankings, Villa Park (5-0) is No. 1 this week, followed by No. 2 La Habra (2-3), No. 3 Tustin (3-2), No. 4 Laguna Hills (4-0) and No. 5 Yorba Linda (5-0). Neither Laguna Hills nor Yorba Linda has played a team with a winning record.

Interestingly, the records for La Habra and Tustin reflect the difficulty of their schedules. La Habra's schedule is well documented, but Tustin's two losses were at the hands of Upland and Orange Lutheran in back-to-back weeks; Upland is No. 14 in the ESPNLA top 25, and OLu is No. 10.

LA North: CIF Southern Section baseball playoff pairings

May, 16, 2011
The CIF Southern Section baseball playoffs begin Tuesday with wild-card games. Edison of Huntington Beach earned the top seed in the Division I bracket. Mater Dei of Santa Ana is the second seed. Vista Murrieta is No. 3 and JSerra is No. 4.

Here’s a look at some of the key Division I wild-card matchups of teams in the LA North region:

Wild-card games, Tuesday
El Modena (15-13) at West Ranch (15-10-1)
Senior catcher Chris Barnett leads El Modena in hitting (.380) and doubles (13). He is second on the team with 15 RBIs. The team has hit two home runs all season. Junior first baseman JC Cloney leads West Ranch with four home runs and is second on the team with 15 RBIs. He is hitting .307. Junior Josh Heinz is hitting .362 and leads the team with 16 RBIs.

Millikan (13-16) at Moorpark (17-10)
Millikan junior Jordan Ybarra is hitting .402 and has driven in 33 runs in 29 games. He has 10 doubles, two home runs and scored 24 runs. Moorpark finished in fourth place in the Marmonte League with an 8-6 record. The Musketeers went 6-4 in their last 10 games including wins over Foothill and San Luis Obispo in the San Luis Obispo tournament.

Royal (19-8) at Villa Park (16-13)
Royal junior Justin Greco leads the team with four home runs and 34 RBIs in 27 games. He is hitting .316. Villa Park’s Wyatt Strahan leads the team with three home runs. He has 12 RBIs and is hitting .306. He is also 6-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 45 strikeouts on the mound.

Oxnard Pacifica (12-12) at Norco (18-8)
Pacifica junior Richard Vasquez leads the team with a .424 batting average. Senior outfielder Eric Contreras leads Pacifica with 14 RBIs and is hitting .319. Norco finished in a tie for second place in the Big VIII League with a 9-5 record. The Cougars went 7-3 in their last 10 games of the season and won three in a row against Centennial, Riverside Poly and Corona to close out the regular season.

First round, Friday
Tesoro (18-13) at Westlake (19-8)
Oxnard (20-6) at Dana Hills (17-13-1)
Newbury Park (18-9) at Camarillo (21-4-1)
Los Alamitos (12-13-1) at Hart (20-6)

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1. Mater Dei, 32-3 (1)—The Monarchs won a 23rd consecutive league championship and an eighth state title, and only one of their top 10 players—David Brown—is a senior. Can you say back-to-back? If Xavier Johnson, Katin Reinhardt, Stanley Johnson & Company work hard, they might be the best team in the country.

2. Orange Lutheran, 27-7 (2)—James Douglas and Gabe York led the Lancers to the Division 4AA title. They were the county’s only boys’ section champion and gave the school its first boys’ title. Lutheran—which beat Mater Dei and Westchester this season—was eliminated in the regional by La Verne Lutheran, the eventual state champion.

3. Foothill, 23-9 (7)—It’s all about the finish, and the Knights were rolling at season’s end behind Cooper Pickell and Rob Filley Though beaten by 2A champion Gahr, 71-70, in the section semifinals, Foothill overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to beat 2AA runner-up Mission Viejo in the regional.

4. Mission Viejo, 29-3 (4)—The Diablos, led by BYU-bound center Isaac Neilson, and James Craven almost always played to the wire; three of their last five games went overtime, and their three losses were by a combined six points.

5. Canyon, 26-4 (3)—Chris Anderson’s third-seeded Comanches were shocked by sixth-seeded Summit in the 2AA playoffs, but then Summit lost to Mission Viejo before beating nationally ranked San Diego Lincoln and playing in the Division III state championship.

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VILLA PARK -- The environment was just as dangerous as expected. The fight just as fierce as projected. The outcome, though, was true to form.

Showing the poise of a champion, top-seeded Ventura gave up the first nine points of the game, then roared back with a 67-53 quarterfinal victory at Villa Park.

The Cougars (27-2) won in a hostile environment against a game opponent. Had Villa Park (23-8) shot better from the field, it might have carried the momentum of the first 3-1/2 minutes to victory.

Instead, Villa Park was beaten by the team with 11 unflappable seniors—and not a single Division I college basketball recruit among them.

"It's a great win," said Dan Larson, whose team won a title in 2006 and reached the finals in 2009. "Villa Park is well-coached, very solid. A road win against a team like that is very valuable."

It's the only road game Ventura has played in the tournament, and it stands to be the only away game of the playoffs. The Cougars will host fourth-seeded Compton on Friday at Ventura College. A victory there will put them at the Anaheim Convention Center in the finals on a neutral floor.

Jared Wilson led Ventura with 20 points. Jon McMurry scored 14 and had 12 rebounds, and Dylan Houck scored 12 and had six assists.

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1. With less than two seconds remaining, Greg Watson of Sonora took an inbounds pass and made a fall-away jumper to give the Raiders a 53-51 victory over Cypress in the second round of the Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs. Although David Salazar made the pass that led to the game-winning basket, it was Raffi Chalian who may have had the biggest assist of all. With 1.8 seconds left, Watson had taken a pass and scored a layup, but a foul was called immediately, negating the basket that should have been the game-winner. Watson expressed his displeasure, and Chalian pushed Watson well away from the officials; had Watson (11 points) been whistled for a technical foul in the emotional situation, he would have fouled out and he never would have gotten the chance to hit the second shot that won the game. About three minutes earlier, Chalian -- who led Sonora with 19 points -- made a four-point play that gave the Raiders a 51-45 lead. Sonora (23-4) plays at second-seeded Palm Springs (24-1) in the Tuesday quarterfinals.

2. We're probably going to have to call Villa Park and Victor Valley just about even. On Jan. 15, Victor Valley scored a 75-73 victory over the Spartans. In the second round of Division 2AA, Villa Park got its revenge with a 62-59 victory on the road. Josh Talbot, who scored two points in the first game, scored 29 in the rematch. His previous season-high had been 15 points in a 79-77 upset of Anaheim Canyon. Another big performance by Talbot wouldn't hurt in the quarterfinals as Villa Park (23-7) plays host to top-seeded Ventura (26-2).

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Catching up on the second round of the Southern Section boys’ basketball playoffs, who would have thought Riverside North and Moreno Valley Vista del Lago would be the Inland Empire's last remaining teams in Division 2A?

But the 15th-seeded Huskies upset second-seeded Elsinore in overtime Friday night, and Vista del Lago beat Lancaster Eastside in a matchup of unseeded teams.

Here’s a rundown of the Inland Empire highlights.

Biggest upset outside of Elsinore: Murrieta Valley lost to 12th-seeded Valencia, 77-70, in Division 1AA, but that wasn’t such a shocker once it was learned the fifth-seeded Nighthawks would be without leading scorer Justin Gudger, who broke his ankle in a first-round overtime victory against Corona.

In the lower half of the same bracket, 11th-seeded Upland knocked off sixth-seeded Pasadena, 56-51, an impressive result, but again not too surprising. The Highlanders entered the playoffs riding a four-game winning streak that included a win against fourth-seeded Etiwanda.

Most fantastic finish: After driving 300 miles to play Arroyo Grande in Division 3AA, second-seeded Palm Springs went back and forth against the 15th-seeded Eagles. The Indians led by two with 0.2 seconds remaining and Kelly Shepard at the free-throw line for Arroyo Grande. Shepard missed the first attempt, then tried to intentionally miss the second but it rattled in, ending his team’s chance for an upset.

Defensive play of the night: With the score tied and about 20 seconds remaining in the Division 1AA game between Rialto Eisenhower and host Lakewood, guard Devin Garner stole the ball and raced for a layup at the other end, giving the seventh-seeded Eagles the lead for good in the 65-61 victory.

Beacon off the bench: Victorville Silverado reserve forward Rohjon Brett scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 65-59 victory against Palmdale in a Division 1A game. Brett, a 6-foot-5 junior, had not scored more than 10 points in a game this season. His three-point basket with 4:10 remaining gave the sixth-seeded Hawks a six-point lead.

Another believer: The most under-appreciated team in the playoffs continues to be Fontana Summit. The SkyHawks are seeded sixth in Division 2AA but continue to perform like a title contender after clobbering host Huntington Beach, 68-50.

Honorable Mention: Terrell Todd scored 26 points and Paulin Mpawe had 17 points and 19 rebounds for fifth-seeded Redlands East Valley in a 77-71 victory against San Bernardino Cajon in Division 1A. ... Byron Wesley had 25 points and 14 rebounds to lead Etiwanda to a decisive 86-54 victory against visiting Chino Hills in Division 1AA. ... Zeke DeBlase scored 26 points but eighth-seeded Victorville Victor Valley came up short against No. 9 Villa Park in Division 2AA and lost, 62-59.

Here’s all the scores involving I.E. teams:

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Inland Empire: Boys' basketball second-round primer

February, 17, 2011
When the second round of the Southern Section boys’ basketball playoffs begins Friday night, a number of Inland Empire teams face interesting matchups. Here’s a closer look:

Long distance award – Palm Springs is seeded second in Division 3AA, but the Indians won’t get a break, traveling nearly 300 miles to play at Arroyo Grande.

Haven’t we met before? – Victorville Victor Valley hosts Villa Park in Division 2AA, a compelling rematch from earlier this season, when the eighth-seeded Jackrabbits rallied from 13 points down with four minutes remaining and beat ninth-seeded Villa Park, 75-73, at Villa Park.

Act II -- Elsinore, the second-seeded team in Division 2A, travels to Riverside North for another regular-season rematch. The Tigers defeated North, 67-60, on Dec. 30 in the championship game of the Paloma Valley Shootout.

Act III -- Redlands East Valley will host San Bernardino Cajon in Division 1A. These teams met Dec. 29 in a semifinal of the Kiwanis tournament and REV came away with 47-45 victory after the Cowboys missed the front end of three one-and-one free-throw situations down the stretch.

Not you again – Moreno Valley Rancho Verde will travel to Mater Dei for a Division 1AA game against the second-seeded Monarchs. The Mustangs lost to Mater Dei twice in the postseason a year ago, 94-58, in the section semifinals and 80-48 in the second round of the Southern California Regionals.

Power couple – Get ready for an interesting matchup between big men in Division 1AA. Eastvale Roosevelt and 6-8 senior forward Shannon Fowler will take on Montebello and 6-11 senior center Antonio Worthy. Roosevelt is seeded 10th and the Oilers are No. 8.

Underdog vs. underdog – Moreno Valley Vista del Lago will host Lancaster Eastside in Division 2A. Both teams should feel fortunate just to be lacing their sneakers one more time. Eastside upset fourth-seeded Glendora, 72-65, in overtime. Vista del Lago got past 13th-seeded Garden Grove, 59-47.

Bad memories – Fontana Summit will travel to Huntington Beach in Division 2AA. The last time the SkyHawks played in Orange County they lost two years ago to Anaheim Loara, 68-66, in a Division 2A second-round game. That marked the first time Loara had ever advanced to the quarterfinals in the program’s 47-year history.

Inland Empire: Boys' basketball Games of the Week

January, 13, 2011
Etiwanda (16-0, 2-0) at Upland (12-4, 1-1), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – Upland, ranked No. 5 in the Inland Empire by ESPNLA, may have got caught looking ahead to No. 1 Etiwanda, losing a Baseline League game Tuesday against Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, 68-63. This game will feature last season’s league co-most valuable players, Upland guard John Gilliam and Etiwanda wing Byron Wesley.

Rialto Eisenhower (9-6, 1-0) at Redlands East Valley (14-3, 1-0), Friday, 6 p.m.– Eisenhower is the three-time defending Citrus Belt League champion but they figure to be tested by the size of Redlands East Valley, led by Paulin Mpawe, a 6-foot-9 post player who signed with Pepperdine. Mpawe scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds Tuesday in a 96-92 victory against crosstown rival Redlands.

La Verne Damien (14-1, 1-0) at Chino Hills (14-3, 1-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – Chino Hills is the four-time defending Sierra League champion but the Huskies will have their hands full against Damien and 6-7 junior forward Chris Reyes, a first-team all-league pick last season who is averaging 16.4 points and nine rebounds.

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