Los Angeles Preps: Zeke DeBlase

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: Five things from the (long) weekend

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
3:36
PM PT
1. The Victorville Victor Valley boys’ basketball team came down the hill Saturday and took on host Villa Park in a nonleague game. The Jackrabbits came in favored but still pulled off a stunner, rallying from 13 points down with four minutes remaining to win, 75-73. Isaiah Kepley converted a three-point play with 34 seconds remaining to tie the score, 73-73. The Jackrabbits then forced a turnover and Zeke DeBlase scored a layup with 3.4 seconds left for the winning margin. Victor Valley (15-3) entered last week ranked No. 5 in Southern Section Division 2AA, Villa Park was No. 7.

2. The Etiwanda boys’ basketball team is still on track to better its 23-0 start from three years ago. The Eagles (18-0, 3-0) cleared a couple of major hurdles over the long weekend, defeating host Upland, 53-40, in a Baseline League game Friday night, then scoring with 9.9 seconds remaining Monday to defeat Ventura, 52-51, at the Martin Luther King Shootout at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos. Etiwanda travels to Los Osos (12-5, 2-1) for a league game Friday, then plays Ontario Colony (10-7, 4-0 in the Mt. Baldy League) on Saturday at the Azusa Pacific Shootout.

3. Chino Hills had never lost to La Verne Damien until Friday night. However, the Huskies (15-4, 1-1) couldn’t control Damien in transition, in particular 6-foot-7 forward Chris Reyes, and lost the Sierra League game, 59-50, on their home floor. The victory ended a six -game winning streak against the Spartans (15-1, 2-0). Jon Richman scored 15 points to lead Chino Hills, which defeated Rancho Cucamonga at the Los Osos showcase and returns to action Wednesday against visiting West Covina South Hills.

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Inland Empire: Games of the Week

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
10:46
AM PT
Rancho Cucamonga (9-7, 0-0) at Etiwanda (14-0, 0-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – Let’s face it. Rancho Cucamonga doesn’t stand a chance. But it’s a good opportunity for the neighborhood to come out and see Etiwanda in its Baseline League opener. The Eagles haven’t played in their own gym since Dec. 9, winning two tournaments in the meantime. USC-bound guard Byron Wesley is averaging 18.3 points, Jordan Daniels is averaging 12.5 and Tyler LaCour is at 11.2.

Palm Springs (12-1, 2-0) at Palm Desert (9-5, 2-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. – Palm Springs has edged out Palm Desert for the last two league titles and the Indians appear to have a better team again this season. Quintin Taylor, a 6-2 sophomore guard, is averaging a team-high 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds for Palm Springs, and 6-9 senior center Dillon Floyd averages 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Riverside Arlington (10-5, 2-1) at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (11-3, 2-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Arlington is led by senior point guard Mason Biddle, who just so happens to be a top tennis player as well. He led the Lions to a Southern Section Division V title while playing doubles last season. Rancho Verde has a significant edge in this Inland Valley League game, however. The Mustangs lost in the fifth-place game last week at the Westlake Village Oaks Christian tournament.

Ridgecrest Burroughs (9-7, 2-1) at Victorville Victor Valley (13-2, 2-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m.Zeke DeBlase is the motor that keeps Victor Valley humming. The 5-11 senior point guard scored 33 points Wednesday in a 64-43 victory at Apple Valley Granite Hills. Burroughs is much improved after finishing 1-11 in league play last season.

Chino Hills (12-3) at La Puente Bishop Amat (12-4), Friday, 7 p.m. – Chino Hills celebrated the holidays by winning the Covina Christmas Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. They couldn’t repeat that effort in an eight-point loss Tuesday to small-school power, Los Angeles Price, but get one more tough test before opening Sierra League play Wednesday against Claremont.

Looking ahead:

Redlands at Redlands East Valley, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. – Citrus League opener for the top two teams.

Eastvale Roosevelt at Riverside North, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. – Playoff positioning already underway in the Big VIII League.

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