Los Angeles Preps: Zena Edosomwan

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.''

(Read full post)

Lockwood leads Inglewood charge

February, 28, 2012

INGLEWOOD -- Charles Lockwood might not be the most well-known post player the Southland has to offer. This time next year, however, things could be drastically different.

The 6-foot-9 junior from Inglewood showed glimpses of his potential during Tuesday night's Southern Section playoff game against visiting Thousand Oaks. His well-rounded effort, in fact, proved to be one of the differences in the Sentinels' 65-36 Division 2AA semifinal victory.

“Charles has a lot to offer, what you're seeing now is a player who is about to take the next step, a big step,'' Inglewood coach Pat Roy said. “He's heading in the right direction.''

Lockwood has been largely, although not solely responsible for the success this season at Inglewood (21-10), which advances to this weekend's finals against Simi Valley Royal.

Thousand Oaks (21-9) had trouble containing Lockwood down in the paint early on. His back-to-back baskets sparked a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter. A pair of buckets late in the second quarter helped Inglewood take a 34-22 advantage at the halftime break.

With a comfortable lead, Lockwood got to work on the defensive end in the second half. He forced the Lancers to take difficult shots, they made one field goal and three free throws over an eight-minute stretch. As a result, the Sentinels started the fourth quarter up, 47-27.

Despite drawing double-and-triple teams for a majority of the game, Lockwood managed to finish with eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. With the game's final outcome no longer in doubt, he made his way to the bench for good with less than three minutes left.

(Read full post)

L.A. North: Five playoff games to watch

February, 20, 2012
Bishop Montgomery (23-4) vs. Crespi (22-6): The Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs are filled with interesting matchups this week. Third-seeded Bishop Montgomery travels to play sixth-seeded Crespi in the quarterfinals Tuesday night. Crespi stumbled at the end of the Mission League season, falling from first place to third place and going 2-5 in the final seven games of league. But Crespi has won its first two playoff games and is coming off a 62-56 win over Sierra Canyon on Friday night. The return of Michael Milligan Jr., who missed three games with a concussion, has helped the Crespi cause. He scored a team-high 21 points against Sierra Canyon in the second round. Bishop Montrgomery, meanwhile, has won five games in a row, but narrowly escaped with a one-point win over Morningside in the second round. Bishop Montgomery won, 55-54, after Larry Taylor III hit a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining in the game. Don’t expect a lot of points in this one. Strong defense will be preached throughout the game.

Harvard-Westlake (20-9) vs. Serra (26-2): The Wolverines have a chance to knock off the top-seeded team in the Division 4AA playoffs. Their win over JSerra Catholic in the second round was a little too close for comfort though. Harvard-Westlake won, 53-49, but nearly blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. JSerra outscored Harvard-Westlake, 19-7, in the final period, but the Wolverines held on to advance. Another area of concern is that only four players scored for Harvard-Westlake against JSerra. The big three for Harvard-Westlake, Derick Newton, Zena Edosomwan and Josh Hearlihy combined to score 49 of their team’s 53 points. Serra has won 11 games in a row and held its first two playoffs opponents to 30 points or less. Playoff opponents are scoring an average of 27.5 points per game against Serra. Edosomwan can score 27 points by himself. He will need significant help if Harvard-Westlake is going to pull off the upset.

Oaks Christian (22-5) vs. La Verne Lutheran (21-6): The Lions have won seven of their past eight games, including a 63-57 win over Chaminade in the second round of the Division 4AA playoffs. They have a great shot at knocking out La Verne Lutheran, the second-seeded team in the playoffs. Not only is Oaks Christian on a hot streak, but La Verne Lutheran might not have one of its best players for the game Tuesday night. Eric Cooper Jr., the team’s second leading scorer at 16.2 points per game and top 3-point shooter, has a broken finger. He might not play in the game against Oaks Christian. Playing without Cooper hasn’t affected the Lutheran offensive output that much. The team is averaging 70 points per game in the playoffs. Oaks Christian has a balanced offensive attack led by Chass Bryan’s 15.3 points per game.

Mater Dei (25-2) vs. Palmdale (20-6): It’s a tall order, but Palmdale can shake up the Division 1AA playoffs with a win over top-seeded and national power Mater Dei in the second round. The teams from the Golden League have proven to be a force in the Division 1AA playoffs so far. Quartz Hill eliminated fifth-seeded Oxnard and Knight ousted 15th-seeded Los Alamitos in the first round. Palmdale, the first-place team from the Golden League, has won 12 games in a row and might surprise Mater Dei. Senior Ryan Wright leads Palmdale with 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. However, Palmdale is on the road and Mater Dei has a 12-game winning streak of its own against significantly tougher competition. The Monarchs haven’t lost since Jan. 7 to Gill St. Bernard from New Jersey. It’s a longshot for Palmdale, but that’s why they play the games.

Saugus (19-9) vs. Norco (15-13): Megan Dawe scored 24 points in her team’s 57-29 win over Claremont in the first round of the Southern Section Division 2A playoffs. She needs four more points to set the school record for scoring. Gabby Conn holds the Saugus record with 1,267 points over her high school career at Saugus. Dawe, who’s headed to New York University for college, already has the single-season scoring record at Saugus with 562 points. Seventh-seeded Saugus might have a couple of more games left in its season as well. The Centurions have won three games in a row and 10 of their past 11. Norco is 4-5 in its past nine games, but beat Citrus Hill, 50-42, in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs.

No. 3 Loyola 77, Harvard-Westlake 74

February, 3, 2012
NORTHRIDGE -- When prep basketball fans from across the Southland take a look at the final score of Friday's game between Los Angeles Loyola and Harvard-Westlake, chances are that the masses will be under the impression the showdown was close from start to finish.

It wasn't. Far from it, in fact.

Loyola jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half and maintained the advantage for a majority of the second half. Some sloppy play down the stretch, however, resulted in a somewhat close 77-74 Mission League victory at Cal State Northridge.

“We said before the game that we were 20 points better than them, we should have won by more,'' said Loyola's Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “We let them get back into it, but we were not worried. They did not have enough time on the clock to close things out.''

The Cubs (20-3, 18-3) took a nine-point lead with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. The No. 3 team in the ESPNLosAngeles top 20 rankings took it easy from there on out and conceded some rather easy baskets to the desperate Wolverines (15-8, 6-4).

“We have a big rivalry with Harvard-Westlake and I think we put so much energy into building a big lead that we were spent towards the end,'' Loyola coach Jamal Adams said. “I wouldn't say we were overly concerned about coming up short.''

Julian Harrell got off to a quick start. The senior and Penn commit scored 10 points in the first quarter and had 15 in the first half to help Loyola take a 38-26 lead at the break. Harvard-Westlake had trouble stopping Harrell, who finished with 23 points.

(Read full post)

Damien's Chris Reyes is Mr. Motivation

January, 24, 2012
Chris ReyesCourtesy of Justin RadDamien's Chris Reyes is accustomed to teams taken him lightly, and he's just fine with that.

LA VERNE -- When discussions take place about some of the Southland's premier post players, the name Chris Reyes is not always included in the conversation.

The lack of recognition, however, does not bother the 6-foot-6, 205-pound senior from Damien. The perceived snub has served as plenty of motivation this season. Accordingly, Reyes is playing as well, if not better than most his peers in the greater Los Angeles area.

“Chris may not be ranked as high as the other guys, but he is just as good in my book,'' Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “He affects the game in so many ways, on both ends of the floor. Honestly, I think when people underestimate him, it's a mistake. I've seen Chris make opponents pay for taking him lightly in the past. He plays with this uncanny fire.''

As Reyes has gone, so have the Spartans (18-1 overall), No. 17 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. They have a test Wednesday in a showdown with visiting Chino Hills Ayala. The winner will be in the driver's seat in the Sierra League standings.

The St. Mary's-bound Reyes is shooting 62 percent from the field and is averaging a double-double per game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Never one to back down from a challenge, he has also blocked an average of five shots on a nightly basis.

“I'd like to be be compared to the best big guys around. Do I think about it all the time? No, not really,'' Reyes said. “Honestly, I kind of like being unknown.''

He is far from an unknown, rest assured. Thing is: La Verne Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan, Woodland Hills Taft's Anthony January and Gardena Serra's Daddy Ugbede typically grab most of the headlines.

(Read full post)

Edosomwan fits well in the H-W legacy

January, 10, 2012
Zena EdosomwanCourtesy of Dave KeeferZena Edosomwan is a 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior who some say still has his best basketball well ahead of him.

LOS ANGELES -- Since the day he set foot on campus at North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, Zena Edosomwan has known there would be some rather sizable shoes to fill.

The San Fernando Valley powerhouse has been billed as one the Southland's hotbeds for talented post players. Succumbing to the seemingly constant pressure of living up to those lofty expectations lingered, but remarkably enough, never materialized.

Low and behold, four years later, Edosomwan has successfully followed in the footsteps of his many predecessors. Emerging as the go-to-guy in the middle for the Wolverines is one of those things that appeared to be in the cards for the highly-touted unsigned senior forward.

“I remember when we first got a good look at Zena, he had big hands, big feet and a big frame overall. We knew right then and there that he was a project worth putting some significant time into,'' Harvard-Westlake coach Greg Hilliard said. “We have been lucky to have a long line of quality big men here and he has done a good job of carrying the torch up to this point in time.''

At 6 feet 8, 220 pounds, Edosomwan is indeed heading in the right direction for the Wolverines (10-4 overall), who have a pair of particularly difficult Mission League games in the next couple of days. Visiting West Hills Chaminade is up first Wednesday and looming thereafter is a trip Friday to Loyola Los Angeles, No. 6 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.

His eyes are focused on the future, to be sure. Nevertheless, Edosomwan understands the importance of the history at Harvard-Westlake. The accomplishments of those came before him is well-documented. The reminders are constant, both on and off the court. One need not look any further than the multiple retired numbers on the wall of the Wolverines gym for proof.

Brothers Jarron and Jason Collins essentially put Harvard-Westlake on the map in the mid-1990s before college and life in the NBA. At the turn of the century, Alex Stepheson was the next big man to make a big name for himself with the Wolverines. Stints at the next level, with stops at North Carolina and USC along the way, followed suit. Erik Swoope and Damien Cain are the most recent individuals to prep at the school and both are playing college ball nowadays.

(Read full post)

L.A. North: Five things from the weekend

December, 19, 2011
  1. The Sierra Canyon football team won its first CIF state bowl game and is the only team in Southern California with a 15-0 record. But the school might be better known for having two Kardashian sisters on the cheerleading squad. Here’s a look at some of the top players on the Sierra Canyon football team: Senior quarterback Tyler Stewart threw for 2,245 yards and 32 touchdowns. A more impressive stat is that he threw only two interceptions in 222 pass attempts. The Trailblazers had a pair of running backs with 1,000 yards. Senior Danny Jordan had 1,021 yards and eight touchdowns. Junior Xavier Menifield had 1,382 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. Three of those TDs came against Le Grand in the bowl game. He also caught 14 passes for 369 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Preston White led Sierra Canyon in receiving with 35 catches for 490 yards and seven touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Patrick McGown led the team with a whopping 17 sacks. Reggie Prince and Brian Tucker shared the team lead for interceptions with three. Each had one pick in the bowl game against Le Grand. Finally, sophomore kicker Noah Zgrabalich made eight field goals, 81 extra points and was second on the team in scoring with 105 points. Only Menifield had more points with 31 touchdowns, a pair of two-point conversions and 188 points.
  2. The Westlake football team might have lost the CIF Open Division bowl game to Concord De La Salle, but one player came out a winner. Westlake kicker Alex Ball won the Chris Sailer award recognizing the best high school kicker in the nation. Ball converted 19 field goals this season and tied for the state lead with Vista Murrieta’s Tyler Rausa. Ball’s 138 points are the most in the nation by schools that reported totals. Ball did not play in the CIF Open Division bowl game because he tore his ACL in his left leg in the Northern Division championship game against Oaks Christian. Even though Westlake lost the Open Division bowl game, the Warriors are not dodging tough teams next season. Westlake will open the season against Granite Bay in the Battle for Veterans Showcase in Sacramento. Oaks Christian and Thousand Oaks are also playing in the Battle for Veterans Showcase. Oaks Christian will play Del Oro, which lost to Helix in the Division II state bowl game. Thousand Oaks squares off against Franklin of Elk Grove. The week after the Battle for Veterans Showcase, Westlake will host Del Oro. Westlake opened the 2011 season against Del Oro and won, 30-27, in overtime.
  3. Providence of Burbank freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. had one of the best basketball games in San Fernando Valley history. He scored a school record 57 points in an 85-74 win over St. Joseph of Santa Maria in the National Prep Classic in Santa Maria. The previous school record was 52 points by Patrick Gonzalez in 2010. LoVett’s 57 points are the most by a player from the San Fernando Valley since 2005 when Grant’s Michael Danielian scored 58 points against Verdugo Hills, according to the Daily News. Providence plays Fremont on Tuesday in the National Prep Classic.
  4. The Harvard-Westlake boys basketball team won the Palos Verdes Tournament, beating Lawndale, 65-63, in the championship game. Derrick Newton scored the winning basket with 13 second left in the game. He was selected tournament MVP and scored 21 points, had 11 rebounds and four blocks against Lawndale. Zena Edosomwan scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds for Harvard-Westlake in the championship game. He was selected to the all-tournament team.
  5. The Chaminade boys soccer team won the Garces Tournament in Bakersfield beating McLane from Bakersfield, 6-1, in the championship game. Karam Gill and Nick Barbarino scored two goals apiece for Chaminade. Zack Khoury and Alessandro Giambrone each notched a goal. In the Arcadia Classic, the Palmdale boys soccer team shut out Monrovia, 2-0, in the championship game. Oscar Torres was selected the tournament MVP and scored both goals for Palmdale. He also scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Arcadia in the semifinals.

L.A. North: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
Here is the top-10 boys basketball teams in the L.A. North region. The teams are ranked with their 2010 records in parantheses:
  1. Harvard-Westlake (29-5) – The Wolverines won the Southern Section Division 3A championship and advanced to the semifinals of the Southern California Regional in the CIF State Division 3 playoffs last year. Harvard-Westlake has two talented seniors returning. Zena Edosomwan averaged 17.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his junior season. He scored 11 points and had 15 rebounds against Inglewood in the championship game of the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs. Josh Hearlihy averaged 14.5 points per game in his junior season. Sophomore forward Derick Newton has already made an impact with Harvard-Westlake, dropping 30 points on Dominguez on Saturday (Dec. 3). He was 8-for-10 from the field and 11-for-13 from the free-throw line.
    Key returners: Edosomwan (senior forward), Hearlihy (senior guard).
    Key newcomers: Newton (sophomore forward), Alex Copeland (freshman guard).
    Can’t-miss games: Harvard-Westlake vs. Loyola at Roybal Learning Center (Jan. 13), Harvard-Westlake at Crespi (Jan. 20), Alemany at Harvard-Westlake (Jan. 21), Harvard-Westlake vs. Loyola at L.A. Valley College (Feb. 3).
  2. Woodland Hills Taft (29-3) – One of the key losses for Taft team is coach Derrick Taylor. He guided Taft to the City Section Division I championship last season, beating longtime nemesis Westchester, 66-62, in the title game. Jason Hart takes over a talented team, despite the loss of three key seniors. Seniors Brandon Perry and Steven Jones will anchor a promising team. They saw limited action last year, but displayed moments of brilliance. Perry averaged 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a junior. He scored a season-high 17 points against El Camino Real in a 67-36 win for Taft. Jones only scored 3.9 points per game, but had one of his best games in the CIF State Division I playoffs. He scored 10 points and was one of five players from Taft in double figures in a 94-81 loss to Centennial in the semifinals of the Southern California regional. Much of the success of this team will depend on if or when Anthony January will become eligible to play for Taft. He transferred from Compton and isn’t expected to be able to play for Taft until next month.
    Key returners: Perry (senior forward), Steven Jones (senior guard).
    Key newcomers: Hart (head coach).
    Key transfer: January (Compton).
    Can’t-miss game: Taft at El Camino Real (Jan. 11).
  3. Crespi (24-9) – The Celts lost their top scorer and floor leader, Matt Mounier, to graduation, but have three talented seniors returning. Crespi lost in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs, 42-40, to Inglewood. The Celts earned a berth in the CIF State Division 3 playoffs and advanced to the second round before losing to La Canada, 43-42. Senior guard London Perrantes averaged 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Justin Rubia will most likely join Perrantes in the backcourt for Crespi. He averaged 7.3 points per game as a junior. Forward Michael Milligan will provide senior leadership in the frontcourt.
    Key returners: Perrantes (junior guard), Michael Avery (senior guard), Rubia (senior guard), Milligan (junior forward).
    Key newcomer: Sammy Linn (freshman guard).
    Can’t-miss games: Crespi at Alemany (Jan. 11), Harvard-Westlake at Crespi (Jan. 20), Crespi at Loyola (Jan. 23).

(Read full post)

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings (final)

March, 29, 2011
What a season, so much to reflect on, so little time.

The level of boys' basketball play in the Southland was seemingly at an all-time high this past season, most certainly right on par with what we have seen around here in years past.

The players. The coaches. The games. The drama. That said, we figured it was about time to unveil the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings for the final time this season. Enjoy!

1. (2) Mater Dei (32-2): This group was supposed to be a year away from making an impact. But low and behold, juniors Xavier Johnson and Kaitin Reinhardt won a state title. Division I, no less.

2. (1) Long Beach Poly (31-2): All signs pointed to the Jackrabbits being capable of finishing as the wire-to-wire top-ranked team. Ultimately, however, the target on their backs was a bit too big.

3. (4) Corona Centennial (30-5): Dominique Dunning, Michael Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright made a nice run. Capping off their senior campaigns with a championship was not in the cards though.

4. (3) Taft (29-3): The Toreadors were the odds-on favorite to win a City Section ring right before the season began. True to form, they had little, or no trouble living up to the rather lofty expectations.

5. (5) Loyola (25-6): Talk about not backing down from any challenges, the Cubs played one of the toughest schedules around. Make no mistake, they managed to hold their own in the process.

6. (6) Etiwanda (29-4): Most observers agreed that the Eagles were going to go as far as Byron Wesley would take them. Once postseason play started, the USC-bound senior did not disappoint.

7. (7) Orange Lutheran (27-7): Senior James Douglas is gone, having committed to Northern Arizona. Junior Gabe York returns which means the Lancers will be a formidable unit in the future.

8. (14) Ventura (29-3): Somehow, someway, the Cougars flew underneath the radar during the regular season. Rest assured, everyone knew plenty about them after the Southern Section playoffs.

9. (17) La Verne Lutheran (26-5): Turned tragedy into triumph. The Trojans overcame the loss of three people closely associated to the program and ended up with a Division III state championship.

10. (18) Windward (27-8): Wesley Saunders did a little bit of everything, most of it well. When all was said and done, he guided the Wildcats to a their second straight state title, this time in Division IV.

(Read full post)

LA North and LA South: Havard-Westlake 47, Inglewood 45

March, 5, 2011
ANAHEIM -- Looking at the final box score, Julius Bilbrew didn't shoot particularly well during Saturday's Southern Section championship game. However, each and every time the Inglewood High boys' basketball team needed a big play, the senior guard managed to find a way to deliver.

Interestingly enough, when the Sentinels needed him the most in the Division 3A final against North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, things did not go according to plan. It was not Bilbrew's fault either, Inglewood could not get the ball into the hands of its playmaker.

Trailing by a basket with less than two minutes left on the fourth quarter clock, the Wolverines focused their efforts on stopping Bilbrew. The strategy worked too, Inglewood struggled down the stretch and Harvard-Westlake ended up prevailing with a 47-45 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“We wanted to get Julius the ball, he's one of our top scorers, but they made things difficult on us,'' Sentinels coach Pat Roy said. “We went into desperation mode and had to take whatever we could get at one point. It was a tough way to lose and no one likes losing.''

Give the top-seeded Wolverines (27-4) some credit, they relied on their strength throughout, which is size. Damiene Cain and Zena Edosomwan, both of whom are 6-foot-7, combined for 23 points, 26 rebounds and five blocks against third-seeded Ingelwood (24-7).

Rest assured, Cain and Edosomwan were focused on Bilbrew in the waning moments, there was no way the tandem was going to let the sharp-shooter beat them.

“I was going to block anything and everything,'' Cain said.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

February, 15, 2011
The CIF-Southern Section and City Section playoffs are all set to get started later this, week which can mean only one thing: The Southland's top teams are on the verge of squaring off, tournament style, with the hopes of eventually bringing home some championship hardware to their respective schools.

We figured it was best to unveil another installment of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings before things get underway. It will be interesting, no doubt, to see how things unfold and just how many of the following programs live up to the lofty postseason expectations bestowed upon them.

In terms of making an appearance in the final poll before the playoffs, consideration was given to larger schools Compton, Elsinore, Murrieta Valley, Pasadena and Washington. The same could be same about little guys Mission Hills Alemany, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Westlake Village Oaks Christian. In the end, however, there is only room for 20 teams. So, let's get down to business.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (24-1): Ryan Anderson and the Jackrabbits have been the top-ranked team from start to finish thus far. No need to switch things up at this stage of the game.

2. (2) Mater Dei (24-2): If anyone is capable of defeating Long Beach Poly in a loaded Division 1AA bracket, perhaps it is the Monarchs. Doing so, however, is an entirely different story.

3. (4) Taft (23-2): The talented Toreadors are the odds-on favorite to win the City Section title. Anything less than a championship would be one of the biggest surprises of the season.

4. (3) Corona Centennial (23-3): The premier program out in the Inland Empire has shown little, or no, signs of slowing down. A deep run during postseason play is a distinct possibility.

5. (5) Loyola (20-5): Talk about playing your best basketball at the most opportune time, no one wants to face the Cubs in Division 1A. The real question is, did they peak a bit too early?

6. (6) Etiwanda (25-2): The Eagles have plenty of explaining to do after inexplicably losing two of their final five regular-season games. That said, we are patiently waiting for an answer.

7. (7) Orange Lutheran (21-6): Among the teams looming as potential threats in Division 4AA are Windward, Alemany and St. John Bosco. The Lancers figure to be tested early and often.

8. (8) Westchester (23-6): After taking a brief glance at the City Section bracket, the Comets appear to be on a collision course with Taft in the finals. Looking ahead could prove costly though.

9. (9) Harvard-Westlake (22-4): With Daniene Cain and Zena Edosomwan providing an imposing presence down low in the paint, the Wolverines will be tough to beat in Division 3A.

10. (11) Peninsula (25-1): Lone loss came last year, on Dec. 3, a six-point setback to Westchester. Fast forward to present day and the Panthers are in the midst of a 21-game winning streak.

(Read full post)

LA North and LA South: No. 8 Loyola 71, No. 7 Harvard-Westlake 51

February, 4, 2011
Plain and simple, there probably is no boys' basketball program around that is as hot as Loyola right about now.

North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake would most likely attest to that after running into the Cubs on Friday night as Loyola walked away with a 71-51 victory in a game that figures to shake up the Mission League standings.

“Honestly, this team is growing and becoming stronger with each and every game we play,'' Loyola coach Jamal Adams said. “They stand together and fight, they scrap, they claw their way to wins. You know what, that has been a recipe for success.''

The Wolverines (21-3, 9-1), No. 7 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings, entered the showdown against their longtime league rival in first place. They were riding an impressive 18-game winning streak, so confidence was not lacking.

However, none of that mattered to the second-place Cubs (19-5, 9-2), ranked No. 8 in the ESPNLA rankings. They appeared to be determined from the start.

The Cubs jumped out to a 19-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. They did not let up in the second quarter thereafter as Joe Stein knocked down a number of shots from out on the perimeter to help guide Loyola to a 15-point advantage at the break.

(Read full post)

LA North and Inland Empire: No. 11 Loyola 70, No. 2 Etiwanda 64

January, 29, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- This time around, the hype actually lived up to all of the advanced billing. And then some.

With five Southland boys' basketball programs ranked in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 scheduled to compete in the Fairfax State Preview Classic, it appeared as if the spectators in attendance at Fairfax High on Saturday were bound to get their money's worth with plenty of fast-paced action. Turns out, no one walked away disappointed.

Etiwanda and Los Angeles Loyola, ranked No. 2 and No. 11, respectively, was the marquee matchup of the day-long event. Those who stayed around for the nightcap, no doubt, were treated to a rather entertaining affair as the underdog Cubs battled back from numerous deficits to pull off a surprising 70-64 upset over the Eagles.

“Etiwanda is tough team, we knew that coming in, that's one of the best programs in the state,'' Cubs coach Jamal Adams said. “The best part about a showcase like this is that our team gets to come out and see how we measure up against the best around. We were tickled to be a part of something like this. It was exciting for us and the fans.''

Etiwanda's Byron Wesley was the story early on.

The 6-foot-5 senior, a USC commit, scored nine points in the early going and Etiwanda (23-0 overall) took a five-point lead at the end of one quarter. All told, Wesley had 17 points in the first half to help extend the advantage to eight at halftime.

It was more of the same after the break. Wesley had 26 points at the end of the three, and accordingly, the Eagles had a 57-49 lead.

“We knew that we were going to play in front of a big crowd, a packed house, and we wanted to show we're the real deal,'' Wesley said.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA top 20 boys' basketball rankings

January, 25, 2011
There are no significant changes at the top of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 boys' basketball rankings this week. A shakeup toward the bottom half of the top 10, however, was in order after one team was dealt a surprising setback.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that a pair of programs are making their first appearance in the rankings following the exits of Murrieta Valley and Los Angeles Fairfax, a pair of schools that could be back in the mix sooner rather than later.

Some other teams to keep a close eye on are Aliso Niguel, Compton and La Verne Damien, along with Pasadena, Ventura and Los Angeles Washington. A couple of quality victories over the next couple of days figure to go a long way.

1. (1) Long Beach Poly (18-0): Winning Moore League games by an average of 42 points. Are you kidding me? Running the table appears to be entirely possible.

2. (2) Etiwanda (20-0): Jordan Daniels doesn't receive enough credit. All of that, however, could end up changing if the senior point guard keeps the Eagles flying high.

3. (3) Mater Dei (18-2): There are no easy games in the tough Trinity League. St. John Bosco looms on Wednesday followed by a showdown with Orange Lutheran on Friday.

4. (4) Centennial (16-3): Big VIII League games against Riverside King on Tuesday evening and Riverside Poly on Thursday night figure to offer little, or no, resistance.

5. (5) Taft (15-2): Kevin Johnson has been focused on the task at hand recently. And make no mistake, when the senior is motivated, the Toreadors are seemingly unstoppable.

6. (7) Westchester (18-5): With a showdown against rival Fairfax on Thursday, perhaps the Comets are primed for an upset loss Wednesday against Hamilton. Perhaps not.

7. (8) Canyon (19-2): Chris Anderson might be a tad bit undersized. He is, after all, 5-foot-7. Thing is, no one plays a bigger role tor the Comanches than the senior point guard.

8. (9) Harvard-Westlake (17-2): Damiene Cain and Zena Edosomwan are a potent one-two punch down in the post and they work the high-low game to near perfection.

9. (10) Mission Viejo (22-0): At 6-10, Issac Neilson is proving to be a force on both ends of the floor. Aliso Niguel will attempt to stop the BYU-bound senior on Friday night.

10. (6) Orange Lutheran (16-5): Suffered a setback with loss to Cezar Guerrero and St. John Bosco. Now, it is time to see how the Lancers respond to some adversity.

(Read full post)

LA North: Boys basketball top 10

January, 25, 2011
La Canada moved up in the rankings, to No. 8, with an impressive win over Los Osos in the Azusa Pacific SoCal Shootout. Loyola jumped up to No. 5 with an impressive win over Crespi. Alemany dropped to No. 9 and has some tough games this week, including Price on Saturday in the Fairfax Showcase.

1. (1) Harvard-Westlake (17-2) – Harvard-Westlake has a 15-game winning streak after downing St Francis, 64-59 on Monday night. More impressively, Harvard-Westlake beat Alemany, 83-72 on Saturday night. Zena Edosomwan had a monster night against Alemany with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds. Damiene Cain scored in double figures in both games. He had 13 against St. Francis. He scored 23 and had 16 rebounds against Alemany. Harvard-Westlake plays Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

2. (2) Woodland Hills Taft (15-2) – Taft beat El Camino Real, 92-38, on Monday night to win its sixth game in a row. Colorado-bound point guard Spencer Dinwiddie scored 12 points and had 13 assists for Taft. Taft plays Granada Hills on Wednesday and Birmingham on Friday.

3. (3) Thousand Oaks (18-2) – Thousand Oaks squeaked past Royal, 63-60, on Friday night to win its third game in row and its fifth in its past six games. Four Thousand Oaks players scored in double figures. Austin Cagley led the Lancers with 19 points. Anthony Jacques scored 16. But it’s not all good news out of Thousand Oaks. The team will be without its head coach Rich Endres for two weeks. He has a blood clot behind his left knee and, under doctor’s orders, needs to stay off it for 14 days. He will miss Wednesday’s game against Agoura and most likely next week’s game against Westlake.

4. (4) Ventura (18-2) – Ventura doubled up on Santa Barbara, 66-33, behind an extremely balanced offensive attack. Four players scored in double figures. Dylan Houck and Richard Thomas each scored 11 points and were a combined 8-of-14 from the field. Ventura plays a reeling San Marcos team (14-7) on Wednesday night. San Marcos has lost four of its past five games.

5. (8) Loyola (13-5) – Loyola won its third game in a row and its fifth in the past six games after beating Crespi, 66-55. The Cubs built a 23-6 lead in the first half over Crespi behind a strong shooting night from Justin Childress. He scored 20 points and converted all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter. Freshman guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 12 points and had five assists. Loyola plays Alemany on Wednesday and Chaminade on Friday.

(Read full post)