Los Angeles Preps: Windward

North: Five things from the weekend

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
10:03
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  1. Westlake defensive back Dashon Hunt picked up his ninth scholarship offer. Boise State joined the fray. Hunt, who will be a senior in the fall, has verbally declared to UCLA, but is still receiving offers from other colleges. He is the 12th ranked defensive back in the country by ESPNU. He has received offers from USC, Washington and Colorado among others. “I’m keeping my options wide open for any college that shows me interest at this point,” Hunt said in a text message.
  2. The Mira Costa boys volleyball team won the Southern California Regional Division II championship in five games over Oak Park at Irvine Valley College. Mira Costa, ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN HS, won its second regional championship in the past three years. Oak Park won the first game, 26-24, then dropped the next two. Mira Costa lost the fourth game, again by a score of 26-24, before winning the fifth game, 20-18. Mira Costa’s Christopher Orenic had a match-high 33 kills. Justin Parks had 23 kills and 12 digs for Oak Park. Oak Park won the Southern Section Division II championship and made its first appearance in the Southern California Regional playoffs.
  3. The Windward boys volleyball team won the Southern California Regional Division III championship, sweeping Campbell Hall in the title match. Windward’s Ryan Manoogian had 12 kills and eight digs to lead his team. Robert Cavanaugh recorded 26 assists and had trouble finding a flow in the Campbell Hall attack. Campbell Hall reached the semifinals of the Southern Section Division IV playoffs and lost to Santa Monica.
  4. Only one seeded team remains in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Mater Dei from Santa Ana, the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, takes on Newbury Park tonight in the semifinals at Blair Field at Long Beach State. Mater Dei is coming of a 5-2 win over Esperanza in the quarterfinals. Newbury Park, behind ace Luke Eubank, eliminated Saugus, 7-3, in their quarterfinal game. West Ranch plays Corona in the other semifinal at Blair Field at 4 today. West Ranch upset top-seeded Orange Lutheran, 5-4, in the quarterfinals. Corona, a wild-card team from the Big VIII League, has won four playoff games in a row and eliminated El Dorado, 7-4, in the quarterfinals. No. 3 seed JW North lost to Saugus, 7-4, in the second round. Third-seeded Long Beach Poly lost to Huntington Beach, 2-1, in the first round.
  5. San Fernando, the reigning City Section Division I champion, is still alive in the playoffs. The third-seeded Tigers play second-seeded Chatsworth in the semifinals at USC on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Neither team has allowed a run in the playoffs. San Fernando shut out Granada Hills, 3-0, in the first round, then ousted Birmingham, 2-0, in the quarterfinals. Chatsworth blanked Bell, 6-0, in the first round and Woodland Hills Taft, 11-0, in the quarterfinals. Top-seeded El Camino Real plays fourth-seeded San Pedro in the other semifinal at USC. El Camino Real beat Verdugo Hills, 5-1, to reach the semifinals. San Pedro beat Kennedy, 5-4, in the quarterfinals.

Windward's Stover nabs MVP at Collision

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
2:41
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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.

Serra stuns Windward in 3 OTs

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
11:47
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ANAHEIM -- The game pitting top-seeded Windward against Gardena Serra was started late because of a double-overtime game that was played beforehand.

Then the two teams, ranked in the state's top 20, topped it by playing three overtimes.

When it was over, Serra had shocked the No. 1 team in the state, scoring an 82-79 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena to win the Southern Section Division 4AA championship.

According to the Southern Section Record Book, it was the second-highest scoring girls' game in history, surpassed only by Riverside Poly and Norte Vista, which scored 179 during the 1981-82 season.

Windward had a 79-75 lead when Deandrea Toler went coast-to-coast to cut Serra's deficit to two with 41 seconds remaining, and with 6.5 seconds left, sophomore Caila Hailey converted two free throws to tie the score at 77-79.

Windward had a chance to win it, and went to 6-foot-7 Imani Stafford, who drove to the basket and was whistled -- correctly, it appeared -- for a double-dribble with 2.3 seconds left.

Windward called a timeout it didn't have, thus was assessed a technical foul and Siera Thompson knocked both down for an 81-79 lead for Serra. with less than a second left, Hailey made the second of two for the final margin.

Serra was no slouch. The Cavaliers (27-3) were ranked No. 16 in the state.

Windward -- which scored victories this season over Mater Dei, Brea Olinda and Long Beach Poly -- dropped to 27-4.

Thompson led Serra with 22 points, and Rejane Verin scored 20. The Cavs won the game at the free-throw line by converting 21-of-31, compared to Windward's 13-of-29.

"The better team won tonight," said Steve Smith, the Windward coach. "They were tougher than us."

Jordin Canada led Windward wit 21 points, Kristen Simon scored 17, Macchiati Smith 14 and Courtney Jaco 12.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
4:39
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The goal for many of the Southland's premier programs at the start of the season was simple: Win a Los Angeles City Section or Southern Section championship. And with title games taking place later in the week, the time has come for teams to follow through with the plans they made months ago.

Unfortunately for some, lofty aspirations of taking home some hardware never materialized this year. Torrance Bishop Montgomery, Los Angeles Westchester along with La Verne Damien and Los Angeles Windward fall into that category as each program had their respective season end last week.

That said, let's take a look at the teams whose postseason hopes remain alive and well.

1. (1) Mater Dei (27-2): The Monarchs made it to the final four in Division 1-AA. No surprise there. Now let's see if they can seal the deal with a trophy.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (25-1): Etiwanda in the Division 1-AA semifinals is the only thing standing between the Jackrabbits and a berth in the marquee game.

3. (3) Etiwanda (29-1): Jordan McLaughlin is a sophomore. He certainly doesn't play like an underclassman though and averages more than 17 points per game.

4. (4) Loyola (24-4): Give the Cubs some credit. They did not overlook anyone in the Division 1-AA bracket and a showdown against Santa Ana Mater Dei awaits.

5. (5) Taft (27-3): Los Angeles Dorsey does not figure to give the Toreadors much trouble in the City Section title game this weekend. A championship is a formality.

6. (6) Alemany (27-4): The Warriors figured to go as far as senior point guard Max Guercy would take them. Low and behold, they are in the Division 3-A finals.

7. (7) Gardena Serra (28-2): There were no easy games in Division 4-AA and the Cavaliers can vouch for that fact. Next up: La Verne Lutheran in the title game.

8. (8) La Verne Lutheran (23-6): Expect a big Division 4-AA finals game from Grant Jerrett. The senior and Arizona commit is overdue for a memorable performance.

10. (14) Orange Lutheran (17-10): Arizona-bound senior Gabe York is healthy once again. That does not bode well for Capistrano Valley in the Division 1-A semifinals.

10. (10) Pacific Hills (27-4): The Bruins had better be prepared for Jose Estrada in Division 4-A. The junior from Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart can flat-out score.

11. (15) Mayfair (22-5): Seemingly a sure thing to win it all in Division 2-A. The highest seeded team left in the bracket for the Monsoons is No. 5 Wildomar Elsinore.

12. (17) Capistrano Valley (25-4): Lack of respect has been a driving for the Cougars in Division 1-A. An upset victory over Orange Lutheran would quiet the skeptics.

13. (20) Calabasas (26-3): The Coyotes have flown underneath the radar for a while now in Division 3-AA. Suppose it's about time they receive an acknowledgment.

14. (11) Price (22-8): No shame in losing to Gardena Serra in the Division 4-AA semifinals. Plus, the Knights played one of the more competitive schedules around.

15. (12) St. John Bosco (22-7): An upset at the hands of Oak Park in the Division 3-A semifinals ended the season a bit sooner than expected for the talented Braves.

16. (19) Crespi (23-7): The Celts were one only basket away from defeating La Verne Lutheran and making an appearance in Division 4-AA championship game.

17. (NR) Mission Viejo (26-3): The Diablos have been on the verge of entering the poll for weeks. They have finally arrived and are a force to be reckon with in Division 1-A.

18. (NR) Pasadena (24-6): Damien received most of the headlines in Division 3-AAA this season. The Bulldogs, however, are the ones standing in the end during postseason play.

19. (NR) Royal (23-6): In terms of peaking at the right time, the Highlanders figured things out just in the nick of time in Division 2-AA. They're one win away from the finals.

20. (NR) Thousand Oaks (21-8): Must be considered the surprise of the playoffs so far. Lancers have knocked off No. 1 and No. 8 seeds to reach the Division 2-AA semifinals.

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

Price beats Windward a third time

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
11:07
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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.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
3:01
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Postseason play is well underway and the action has been fast and furious. That said, it's about time for the premier programs from the Southland to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs.

Over the next couple of days, the semifinal showdowns will begin to materialize as teams move toward division championships. So let's take a look at the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.

1. (1) Mater Dei (25-2): Katin Reinhardt or Xavier Johnson, pick your poison. Limiting the effectiveness of one of the two is possible. Stopping them both isn't.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (23-1): Highly-touted junior Roschon Prince does a little bit of everything, and does it well, for the Jackrabbits.

3. (3) Etiwanda (27-1): Here's where things get interesting in Division 1-AA for the Eagles. Santa Monica and Long Beach Poly loom large en route to finals.

4. (4) Loyola (22-4): With a collision course seemingly set with Mater Dei in the all-important Division 1-AA semifinals, the Cubs can't afford to look too far ahead.

5. (5) Taft (25-3): On deck, Lake Balboa Birmingham in the Los Angeles City Section playoffs Wednesday. The Toreadors will not have any troubles in this one.

6. (6) Alemany (25-4): La Puente Bishop Amat stands between the Warriors and a berth in the Division 3-A semifinals. Chances are, they will not be denied.

7. (7) Gardena Serra (26-2): Cavaliers will have their hands full with North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan in a Division 4-AA game Tuesday.

8. (8) La Verne Lutheran (21-6): Road trip to Westlake Village Oaks Christian on Tuesday night figures to be a speed bump along the way in Division 4-AA play.

9. (9) Bishop Montgomery (23-4): It is not easy to win at Encino Crespi. It will be interesting to see if the Knights are up to the challenge in Division 4-AA on Tuesday.

10. (10) Pacific Hills (25-4): Freshman phenom Aaron Holiday and North Hollywood Campbell Hall could play the role of spoiler. The Bruins are well aware of that fact.

(Read full post)

Boys' Division 4AA bracket unpredictable

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
3:29
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The boys' Division 4AA bracket promises to be the most competitive in the CIF-Southern Section basketball playoffs. Trying to pick a winner gets the head spinning.

For instance, take a look at some key regular-season results of fourth-seeded Los Angeles Price (19-7):

Price lost to third-seeded Bishop Montgomery, but Bishop Montgomery lost to top-seeded Gardena Serra twice in Del Rey League play. The problem? Price beat Serra when the teams met at the Cochran Classic.

That's not all.

Price fell to second-seeded La Verne Lutheran. But La Verne Lutheran, a two-time defending state champ, lost to fifth-seeded Windward. Yet Windward lost to Price two times. Are you dizzy yet?

Playoff games tip off tonight at 7 p.m. Here is the Division 4AA schedule:

Salesian at (1) Serra
Bosco Tech at (16) Workman
(10) JSerra at Laguna Beach
(8) Harvard-Westlake at Whitney
La Salle at (5) Windward
(11) Maranatha at Twentynine Palms
(13) Sherman Oaks Notre Dame at Paraclete
Blair at (4) Price

Templeton at (3) Bishop Montgomery
(14) Morningside at Victorville University Prep
(12) Sierra Canyon at Malibu
(6) Crespi at Rosamond
Besant Hill at (7) Oaks Christian
(9) Chaminade at Morro Bay
Banning at (15) Big Bear
(2) La Verne Lutheran at Pasadena Marshall

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
1:25
PM PT
With regular-season play in the books, the Southland's premier programs will take a day or two and regroup before the focus turns toward the postseason.

That said, let's take a look at some of the top teams from the greater Los Angeles area as preparations begin for the Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs later this week.

At this stage of the game, it's win or go home.

1. (1) Mater Dei (24-2): No real surprise here, Monarchs remain atop the poll. Moreover, they appear poised to take home the Division 1-AA title.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (22-1): If anyone is capable of giving the top-ranked team a run for its money, perhaps it's the talented Jackrabbits.

3. (4) Etiwanda (26-1): There will be no easy games in Division 1-AA play for the Eagles. Questions about just how good they are about to answered.

4. (6) Loyola (21-4): Signs point to the Cubs meeting Mater Dei in the Division 1-AA semifinals. With a finals berth on the line, anything can happen.

5. (5) Taft (24-3): Anthony January's nickname is "Dinnertime." Odds are, the senior wing will be hungry during the City Section tournament.

(Read full post)

South: Boys' basketball top 10

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
7:21
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The south Los Angeles County boys’ basketball top 10 power rankings as the 2012 playoffs get underway:

1. Long Beach Poly (23-1)
Credit the Moore League champion Jackrabbits for shaking off the departure of Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) from last year's Division 1AA title team. Then again, Poly never rebuilds -- it reloads. Coach Sharrief Metoyer has done a tremendous job. This week: CIF-SS Division 1AA first round vs. Riverside King, Friday, 7 p.m.

2. Gardena Serra (24-2)
Coach Dwan Hurt has his group riding a nine-game win streak heading into the playoffs. The Cavaliers swept through the Del Rey League, and appear to be the slight favorite in Division 4AA. This week: CIF-SS Division 4AA first round vs. Salesian, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

3. Loyola (21-4)
Not exactly the regular season the Cubs had hoped for, but they can forget about falling short in the Mission League with a championship run in the next couple of weeks. Julian Harrell and Jacob Hazzard lead a deep, dangerous squad. This week: CIF-SS Division 1AA first round vs. Trabuco Hills, Friday, 7 p.m.

4. La Verne Lutheran (19-6)
Lost in senior forward Grant Jerrett's selection to the McDonald's All-American game is the strides sharpshooter Eric Cooper Jr. has taken as a go-to player for the Trojans. Jerrett demands double teams down low, and Cooper, an Arizona commit, is making opponents pay. This week: CIF-SS Division 4AA first round vs. Pasadena Marshall, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

5. Price (19-7)
Mixed results for the Knights last week after beating Compton but losing to fellow Division 4AA contender La Verne Lutheran in overtime. San Diego State signee Skylar Spencer and Co. thrive in transition, so they'll be a tough draw in the playoffs. This week: CIF-SS Division 4AA first round vs. Blair, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

6. St. John Bosco (19-6)
No shame in finishing at 8-2 in the Trinity League, especially with both losses coming against the state's top-ranked squad. If there's consolation for Braves fans, it's that this team, with junior Isaac Hamilton and sophomore Daniel Hamilton at its core, only figures to get better under first-year coach Derrick Taylor. This week: CIF-SS Division 3A first round vs. Jurupa Hills, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

7. Bishop Montgomery (21-4)
Sure, the Knights couldn't get it done against Del Rey League rival Gardena Serra, but wins against Woodland Hills, Westchester, Pacific Hills and Price don't lie. Montgomery is a team to keep an eye on in a stacked bracket. This week: CIF-SS Division 4AA first round vs. Templeton, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

8. Muir (24-2)#
A loss to neighboring rival Pasadena in the regular-season finale didn't discourage coach Gamal Smalley, who led the Mustangs to their first Pacific League crown in over a decade. But the excitement was short-lived, as the Mustangs were disqualified from postseason play and stripped of their title for using an ineligible player. Muir forfeited 20 victories.

9. Damien (24-2)
The Spartans rolled to their second consecutive Sierra League championship, earning a No. 1 seeding in Division 3AAA. They now have a target on their back, and it will be up to Saint Mary's-bound forward Chris Reyes to fight through constant double teams. This week: CIF-SS Division 3AAA first round vs. El Dorado, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

10. Pacific Hills (23-4)
A loss to Windward in the finale denied the Bruins sole possession of the Alpha League title. It didn't affect their postseason aspirations, though, as the Bruins received a No. 1 seeding in Division 4A. This week: CIF-SS Division 4A second round vs. winner of Costa Mesa-St. Monica, Friday, 7 p.m.

Ten more, in alphabetic order: Crenshaw (22-4), Compton (17-9), Downey (22-5), Fairfax (19-9), Leuzinger (21-5), Mayfair (21-5), Pasadena (19-7), Santa Monica (18-8), Westchester (20-6), Windward (18-8)

# - Denotes season has concluded

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

South: Notable seeds for CIF-SS basketball playoffs

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
5:49
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Defending CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA champion Long Beach Poly received a No. 2 seeding in the boys' basketball bracket Sunday, a mere formality given that Mater Dei, the state's top-ranked squad, resides in the same division. The Jackrabbits (23-1) have maybe the best shot at unseating the Monarchs.

Poly opens postseason play with Riverside King on Friday at 7 p.m.

Loyola (21-4), the Mission League's second-place team, received a No. 4 seeding and opens against Trabuco Hills. Other south Los Angeles County schools receiving seeds in Division 1AA: Santa Monica (6), Downey (8) and Long Beach Jordan (14).

Notable seeds from the other divisions:
  • Division 4AA: Call this the "division of death." The seeds: No. 1 Gardena Serra (24-2); No. 2 La Verne Lutheran (19-6); No. 3 Bishop Montgomery (21-4); No. 4 L.A. Price (19-7); No. 5 Windward (18-8). First-round games will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m. Muir went 24-2 and won the Pacific League on the court but was disqualified from the playoffs for using an ineligible player. Muir will forfeit 20 wins.
  • Division 1A: Warren is the No. 13 seed, Walnut is No. 15.
  • Division 2A: No. 1 seed Mayfair (21-5), the Suburban League champion, hosts Moorpark. No. 2 seed Compton (17-9) plays San Bernardino. No. 4 seed Leuzinger, the Bay League champion, hosts Baldwin Park.
  • Division 3AAA: No. 1 seed Damien (24-2), the Sierra League champion, plays El Dorado. No. 2 Pasadena (19-7), hosts Magnolia.
  • Division 3A: No. 2 seed St. John Bosco (19-6), the second-place finisher in the Trinity League, hosts Jurupa Hills.
  • Division 4A: No. 1 seed Pacific Hills (23-4) has a first-round bye and plays the winner of Costa Mesa-St. Monica.
  • Division 5AA: No. 1 St. Bernard (19-7), a state finalist last year, has a first-round bye and awaits the winner of San Gabriel Academy and Cate.

On the girls' side:
  • The No. 1 seeds: Windward (Division 4AA); Long Beach Poly (1AA); Keppel (2AA); West Torrance (3AAA).

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
12:47
PM PT
The all-important final week of regular-season play is upon us, which means some of the Southland's premier programs must remain focused on the task at hand. Looking too far ahead, to upcoming play in the postseason that is, could prove to be disastrous.

That said, let's take a look at how the best of the best from out here in the greater Los Angeles area stack up against each other. There was a shakeup in the bottom half of the top 10 and multiple teams ranked in the teens are on the verge of joining elite status.

1. (1) Mater Dei (22-2): La Verne Lutheran was supposed to present some problems. It did not happen. The Monarchs ended up winning by five points.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (20-1): Jackrabbits' lone loss came back in the first week of December. There have been no signs of slowing since then, of course.

3. (7) Alemany (22-3): The Warriors keep getting the job done. With two games left in the regular season, they're poised to take home the Mission League title.

4. (4) Etiwanda (24-1): As Jordan McLaughlin tends to go, so do the Eagles. The standout sophomore guard is averaging more than 17 points per game.

5. (5) Taft (22-3): Questions about the Los Angeles City Section frontrunner recently started to surface. A victory over Los Angeles Loyola provided answers.

(Read full post)

Ranked 1-2 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, Los Angeles Windward completed a sweep of the three teams that have ruled girls' basketball in Southern California—and state—for years.

In Mater Dei's Meruelo Events Center in the final game—the marquee game—of the first day of the Nike Extravaganza, Windward scored a 65-62 victory over the two-time defending state champion and host Monarchs.

Windward (21-3) came into the game ranked No. 6 nationally in the ESPN Powerade Fab 50; Mater Dei (21-3) is No. 11.

"When you play in these kinds of games, you take a risk," Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan told the Orange County Register. "Why play teams you can beat by 50, what does that prove?"

He said that his team will be better for having played the game regardless of the outcome, a sentiment that was echoed by Windward coach Steve Smith about a 62-48 loss three weeks ago to the No. 1 team in the country, Phoenix St. Mary's.

"Without that game," Smith told Maxpreps, "not sure how this one turns out."

(Read full post)

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
2:49
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The Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs are right around the corner, mere weeks away now. Accordingly, most of the premier programs the Southland has to offer appear to be as focused as ever with postseason play clearly in sight.

That said, some major shuffling took place in this week's edition of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. There is a growing understanding that the time has come for teams to hit their strides and finish up the regular season with momentum.

It's not where you start, of course, but where you finish.

1. (1) Mater Dei (19-2): No signs of slowing down. Going wire-to-wire on top of rankings is a possibility.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (17-1): Second-best team stacks up well against anyone in the Southern California.

3. (4) Loyola (18-3): Looked good in victory against quality opponent Orange Lutheran over the weekend.

4. (5) Etiwanda (22-1): Loss to La Verne Luthern only thing separating Eagles from unblemished record.

5. (8) Taft (19-3): Players have bought into system of their new coach and former NBA player Jason Hart.

6. (9) Bishop Montgomery (18-3): It's official: The Knights can no longer be overlooked. They're a threat.

7. (11) Alemany (20-3): Warriors keep proving all the naysayers wrong. No team is hotter than this group.

8. (10) Gardena Serra (21-2): Del Rey League showdown with Bishop Montgomery looms large Wednesday.

9. (3) La Verne Lutheran (16-5): A recent setback to Los Angeles Westchester was somewhat surprising.

10. (13) Pacific Hills (21-3): Alpha League test comes on Friday against North Hollywood Campbell Hall.

11. (14) Price (17-5): Peaking at the right time is important. The Knights might have finally it figured out.

12. (6) Crespi (19-4): Three losses last week goes to show how difficult Mission League play can be at times.

13. (12) St. John Bosco (16-5): Interested to see how the Hamilton brothers do on Friday night at Mater Dei.

14. (18) Westchester (16-5): A victory over La Verne Lutheran certainly does not hurt the improving resume.

15. (15) Orange Lutheran (14-8): Senior Gabe York is back in lineup after a brief absence. Lancers need him.

16. (16) Capistrano Valley (20-2): Aleks Lipovic and Nick Thomas are a particularly potent one-two combo.

17. (7) Windward (14-8): Nick Stover emerging as unquestioned leader. The Wildcats need guidance too.

18. (19) Mayfair (17-5): Extremely difficult nonleague schedule is paying off for this battle-tested bunch.

19. (17) Damien (20-2): Chris Reyes is a one-man show. His effort, however, came up short against Etiwanda.

20. (NR) Calabasas (19-3): Frontrunner in the Marmonte League race. Pair of road games on deck this week.

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

South: Boys' basketball Top 10

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
9:30
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The south Los Angeles County boys’ basketball top 10 power rankings:

1. Long Beach Poly (18-1)
The Jackrabbits increased their lead to two games in the Moore League standings thanks to Roschon Prince's stellar game at Compton on Friday. The junior wing had 35 points and 12 rebounds. This week: at Lakewood, Wed.; vs. Long Beach Wilson, Fri.; vs. Orange Lutheran in Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei, Sat.

2. Loyola (18-3)
An up-and-down week ended in a positive way with a 92-84 win against Orange Lutheran at the Fairfax State Preview Classic. Still in the Mission League race, but need some help. This week: at Notre Dame, Wed.; at Harvard-Westlake, Fri.; vs. Taft in Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei, Sat.

3. Gardena Serra (21-2)
There's great balance throughout coach Dwan Hurt's roster, that much was evident in the Cavaliers' 10-point win against host Fairfax at the State Preview Classic on Saturday. Senior guard Kajon Mack and big Daddy Ugbede complement each other well. This week: vs. Bishop Montgomery, Wed.; vs. Bishop Amat, Fri.

4. La Verne Lutheran (16-5)
A 67-62 overtime loss to Westchester on Saturday snapped a nine-game win streak. The Trojans face an interesting group of competitors in the next few days. This week: vs. Ribet Academy, Tues.; at Renaissance Academy, Wed.; at Mater Dei in Nike Extravaganza, Sat.

5. Price (17-5)
The Knights have won six straight since losing at the Brandon Jennings Invitational in Milwaukee, riding the leadership of junior guard Chance Murray and bouncy forward Skylar Spencer. The upcoming schedule will put their streak in serious jeopardy, though. This week: at Ribet Academy, Fri.; at Alemany, Sat.

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Price blitzes Windward in second half

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
6:53
PM PT
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.

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