Los Angeles Preps: Yorba Linda

The upper divisions of the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs began on Friday with mostly predictable results (OC teams emerged victorious from all seven games in which they were involved in Division 1A). In the lower divisions, they played the second round, and a darkhorse in 3AA -- seventh-seeded Servite -- pulled up lame before hitting the backstretch.

Biggest upset: In only its second varsity season, Yorba Linda (11-17) went into Servite (11-18), long known for its distracting fans and a veteran of the Trinity League gantlet, and scored a 62-55 second-round victory in Division 3AA behind the play of Sharthak Mukhopadhyay, who scored 21 points. Mukhopadhyay scored 14 in the fourth as the Mustangs stretched a 37-33 lead after three quarters to nine points with 3 1/2 minutes remaining -- only to watch Servite close to within two points with 33 seconds remaining as Tre Hunter hit a pair of threes and a free throw. Hunter scored 12 of his 27 in the fourth, but Yorba Linda made five of six free throws in the final half-minute to hold on. The Mustangs next play at Charter Oak, which KO'd second-seeded Santa Barbara San Marcos, 48-45.

Best performance: When you're 7 feet 5 inches, you're supposed to be dominating, and that was the case for Mamadou Ndiaye, who helped No. 7 Brethren Christian (24-5) win on the road at Temecula Linfield Christian, 66-54. The victory sets up BC with a home game in the quarterfinals against second-seeded Sun Valley Village Christian (26-2), which is a big hurdle toward winning the 5AA championship. Ndiaye scored 27 points, had 16 rebounds and blocked seven shots. He was 12 of 17 from the field, a performance that included nine dunks. He is averaging 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and five blocks. It wasn't completely Ndiaye's show: freshman Brandon Bryson scored 18, well above his 4.9 on the season.

Best comeback: There's no margin for error in a single-elimination playoff, so credit El Toro (21-8) for taking care of business in the second half of its 56-50 victory over Long Beach Cabrillo (10-15). The Chargers were down, 29-23, at halftime before a 16-8 run in the the third quarter to seize the lead. Jordan Faison scored 21, and Ryan Roberts 12 as fifth-seeded El Toro set up a second-round game at Huntington Beach (16-12) , a 52-28 winner over Katella.

Best start: Tesoro opened a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, which helped the Titans hold off Westminster, 48-38, as Jalen Bruce and Andrew Lee scored 11 apiece. Westminster (16-11) finished with a flourish -- the Lions outscored Tesoro (15-12) in the fourth quarter, 20-13, accounting for more than half their points in the final eight minutes. The Titans will host second-seeded Canyon Country Canyon on Tuesday in the second round of the 2AA playoffs.

Best backstory: The game finished the way many anticipated, but it's worth noting anyway. Two years ago, Xavier Johnson was playing at Temecula Chaparral. Then he transferred to Mater Dei, the Monarchs won a state title with a large group of underclassmen, and this year they are among the top teams in the nation. In the first round, Johnson's former team ventured into the Meruelo Events Center and faced their former player. Johnson and Katin Reinhardt scored 17 apiece to lead the top-seeded Monarchs to a 79-34 victory over Chaparral (17-11). Mater Dei (25-2) led after one quarter, 23-17, but Chaparral scored only four, seven and six points the remaining three quarters. It would have been a more interesting match-up if Johnson had stayed. He didn't. And the rest is history. And backstory.

Best highlight: A lot of dunks are overrated. This one isn't. Gabe York's one-handed slam off a lob pass was the defining moment of third-seeded Orange Lutheran's 70-46 victory over Dana Hills (11-15) in the first round of the 1A playoffs. The Lancers (17-10) got 24 points from the 6-foot-2 Arizona-bound guard -- and maybe got the highlight of the year.

Calabasas faces Palos Verdes in Division 3AA

February, 16, 2012
Top-seeded Calabasas had a bye in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs. The Coyotes will play No. 16 Palos Verdes, 61-42 winners over Hueneme, in the second round.

No. 13 Agoura survived a first-round scare and beat Diamond Ranch by one point, 67-66. The Chargers will play fifth-seeded Torrance in the second round.

Only a couple of upsets in the first round. El Modena beat sixth-seeded Rancho Alamitos and Yorba Linda beat 10th-seeded Temple City.

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O.C.: Games of the Week

November, 3, 2011
Yorba Linda (8-0, 4-0) vs. Cypress (6-2, 3-1) at Western HS, Thursday, 7 p.m.
A victory by Cypress and running back Vincent "Bug" Rivera (19 TDs) could create a three-way tie for first place in the Empire League, so the Centurions should be plenty motivated. There's no guarantee that it will happen, though. Cypress was throttled by Tustin last week, 42-21, and Yorba Linda beat Tustin, 14-12, three weeks ago. This is Yorba Linda's first team with a senior class and the Mustangs are making the most of it led by quarterback Alex Bernstein (13 TDs, 3 int.). Still, they remain largely untested -- Cypress is one of only two opponents with a winning record (Tustin was the other).

No. 1 Servite (7-1, 3-0) vs. Mater Dei (3-5, 1-2) at Angel Stadium, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
After losing to Mater Dei for 20 straight seasons, Servite is going for its third consecutive victory against the Monarchs. A Servite win will clinch a share of a seventh consecutive league title since Troy Thomas became the coach, it will prevent Mater Dei from reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1986, and it will ensure Mater Dei's fifth losing season since 1950. Mater Dei should be the more motivated and emotional team, but the key will be mounting a ground game against Servite's stellar defense led by linebacker Butch Pauu. The Monarchs couldn't do it against Orange Lutheran in last week's 28-0 loss, and Servite's defense is even better. It could mean Ryan McMahon (5 TDs, 9 int.) throws a lot of passes, and though the Servite secondary might be its Achilles heel, McMahon will likely be under pressure and won't get many good looks. The battle will be won in the trenches. Servite's solid ground game could see the return of its leading rusher before he got hurt, Charlie Etiaki, and quarterback Cody Pittman (10 TDs, 2 int.) continues to be an efficient winner.

No. 16 St. John Bosco (6-2, 2-1) at No. 6 Santa Margarita (7-1, 2-1) at Saddleback College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Second place is on the line in the Trinity League. Bosco is coming off its emotional loss to Servite, and Santa Margarita is trying to maintain momentum heading into a season finale against the Friars. Both teams have potent offenses, and though Bosco might have the more dynamic skill players in receiver Bryce Treggs and running back Davonte Young, Santa Margarita figures to be stronger in the trenches, and that has been enough for RB Ryan Wolpin (20 TDs) and dual-threat QB Johnny Stanton (6 TD, 7 int.), who has rushed for 12 touchdowns. This should be the game of the night.

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O.C.: Games of the Week

October, 6, 2011
Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (1-3) at Newport Harbor (1-3), Thursday, 7 p.m.

This has developed into a nice series that seems to have benefited both programs. It's the eighth consecutive season they have played, and though Newport holds a 4-3 edge, Mira Costa has won the last two years, including a 17-6 victory last season. Both teams need a victory because league play is on the horizon. They are similar in that they have played good competition. Mira Costa's losses have been to Loyola (4-1), Gardena Serra (3-2) and Chaminade (3-1); Newport's losses have been to Trabuco Hills (4-1), Loyola (4-1) and San Clemente (5-0). Newport hung around last week against San Clemente and was in the game in the fourth quarter; the Sailors will likely need a strong performance by QB Cole Blower.

Yorba Linda (5-0, 1-0) at Tustin (3-2, 1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.

Is Yorba Linda ready to hang with the big boys? The Mustangs are undefeated and players -- including quality QB Alex Bernstein -- have put up some nice numbers, but they are untested against a physical team, and none of their previous opponents has a winning record. Even if Tustin is banged up and shorthanded (which it is), the Tillers can still apply the hurt; they will pound you, and they will force you to be there in the fourth quarter. And if you're there in the fourth quarter, they still have RB Tyler Siudzinski to pound on you some more. Yorba Linda can't be The Man in the Empire League until it beats Tustin (whose only losses are to undefeated Orange Lutheran and Upland).

No. 2 Mission Viejo (4-1) vs. Redlands East Valley (4-0) at University of Redlands, Friday, 7 p.m.

If the Mission Viejo offense has caught up to its defense, and last week's 31-0 victory over Carson might be an indication that it has, then there might not be any worries for the Diablos in this final game before South Coast League play. But if the offense struggles -- and it's facing a defense that has shut out two opponents, including Dominguez -- then this game might not be decided until the fourth quarter. When they played a year ago, REV was banged up and young, but there was no lack of fight in the 42-14 loss. The best guess is that REV will bring its best in front of a rocking stadium crowd, and if Mission makes some mistakes that it hasn't always avoided this season, it's game on.

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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 and Orange County: Royal shuts out Yorba Linda in softball

May, 18, 2011
Royal of Simi Valley was the only team from north L.A. County to make it out of the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 softball playoffs on Tuesday.

Royal beat Yorba Linda, 2-0. Kelyn Fillmore was the star for Royal at the plate and on the mound. She drove in a run with an RBI double. She started the game and went five innings, giving up four hits.

Ali Mosier was 2-for-2 and scored on Fillmore’s double. Katelyn Tollefson knocked in Fillmore with an RBI double in the next at-bat.

Royal moves on to face second-seeded Etiwanda in the first round.

Thousand Oaks lost to La Palma Kennedy, 4-0.

Hart was rained out on Tuesday and was scheduled to play Upland today.

Here is a look at the wild-card games in the Southern Section softball playoffs:

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LA North: CIF Southern Section softball playoff pairings

May, 16, 2011
The Oaks Christian softball team earned the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. La Canada is the No. 1 seed in the Division 5 playoffs.

The CIF Southern Section softball playoffs begin Tuesday with wild-card games.

Here’s a look at some of the key match-ups in Division I of teams from the LA North:

Thousand Oaks (20-8) at La Palma Kennedy (12-9)

Hart (18-11) at Upland (15-9)

Yorba Linda (12-11) at Royal (16-10)

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Orange County: Five things from the weekend

October, 18, 2010
1. With Harry Welch as its new coach, Santa Margarita is trouble. Every week it seems the Eagles are getting better and better, and their 27-15 victory over Orange Lutheran is a watermark moment in the Trinity League; you can bank on the breaking up of the triumvirate of Servite, Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran that has dominated the league the past four seasons. The first step was Santa Margarita's victory over OLu. It would not surprise me one bit if the Eagles -- behind the play of quarterback Adam Young and running back Cory Thomson -- win the league title.

2. Watching JSerra play (they were tough just not very deep), and listening to Servite coach Troy Thomas talk about the team he saw on film and beat, 41-7 (“They're good”), I'm left to marvel at where JSerra might be if receiver Bryan Keller and linebacker/quarterback Tre Madden had not transferred to Mission Viejo, and if Tyler Shirozono had not transferred to Dana Hills. Imagine how much better JSerra would be, and what impact that might have had on Mission Viejo and the South Coast League (not to mention the Trinity League)? I asked one of the JSerra boosters why Madden transferred after his freshman season and was told, “He didn't think the program would be where he wanted it to be in four years.” If players had stuck around, it might have been.

3. Most impressive victory of the weekend didn't belong to one of the powers that gets discussed here every week, it belonged to Yorba Linda, which scored a 12-6 win over Placentia Valencia for its first ever league victory. This is Yorba Linda's first varsity team, and for the senior-less Mustangs to post a win over such an established program and revered coach as Mike Marrujo says a lot about the state of the program under coach Jeff Bailey. Alex Bernstein rushed nine times for 51 yards and passed for 92 yards – including a 25-yard touchdown pass – and intercepted two passes (one returned 65 yards for a touchdown). Yorba Linda is 3-4, 1-2 in the seven-team Empire League, but that victory might have meant a playoff berth.

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