La Verne women advance with win over Redlands

In the first-ever SCIAC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the University of La Verne held off the University of Redlands 65-60 in a hotly-contested semifinal battle Thursday night at Frantz Athletic Court.

With the win, La Verne (19-7) sweeps the three games against the Bulldogs this season and will face Occidental in Saturday’s SCIAC Championship game in Eagle Rock. The Tigers defeated Cal Lutheran 69-47 in the other semifinal. Redlands ends its season at 17-9.

The Leopard defense proved key in holding the Bulldogs to 37.9% from the field while forcing 15 turnovers. Additionally, the Leos won the rebounding battle with 45 boards compared to 38 for the visitors.

ULV took control late in the first half with a 22-9 run to take its largest lead of the game at 34-21 with 3:02 remaining to eventually hold a 36-27 advantage at intermission.

The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 12-5 spurt to close within two points at 41-39 at the 15-minute mark. Redlands, however, wouldn’t get any closer as the Leopards were able to sustain their lead throughout. La Verne stretched the margin to eight points at 50-42 before the Bulldogs again whittled down the lead to two points (58-56) with five minutes left.

La Verne was able to subdue the Bulldogs by getting key baskets from Emily Carrillo and Trenecca Jones while not allowing a Redlands field goal for over four minutes. Heather Lokar’s three-point basket cut the ULV lead to 62-60 with 21 seconds left, but Jones converted four of five free throw attempts to advance the Leopards to Saturday’s championship game.

Jones tallied 17 points while posting a game-high 18 rebounds. In the process, she collected her 14th double-double of the season. Carrillo sparkled in her return to the lineup with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting to tie for game-high honors with Jones. Marissa Raya added 10 points for the Leopards.

For Redlands, point guard Valarie Katayama posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds with Lokar totaling a team-high 12 points.

SBVC women look to continue historic run

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO When Sue Crebbin stepped into the womens basketball job at San Bernardino Valley College three years ago she inherited a team that won two games at a school lacking the resources of many of its rivals. There did’t seem to be any indicators that the program could reach the lofty status of it mens counterpart.

But it is Crebbins Wolverines (26-5) preparing for a playoff run which begins Friday with a 7 p.m. game at Snyder

Gymnasium against Fullerton College (20-13), the same team that eliminated it from the playoffs last year.
Should the No. 7 seeded Wolverines get by this one, defending state champion Mt. SAC (32-1) would likely be next. Not even that fazes the veteran team.

If youre going to win it all, you have to beat them all. It doesnt matter when you play them, said Crebbin, who came to the school after coaching stints at Yuba College and American River, both in the northern part of the state. This team would rather play the better teams. They get bored when theyre not playing good teams.

The program has progressed each year. In Crebbins first season the team doubled its win total to four, even though she got the job late in the summer and had no chance to recruit. The positive sign was that three of those wins came in the last four games.

Last season proved to be the breakout year. The Wolverines went 20-10, finishing a respectable third in the Foothill Conference. It served notice by upstaging Orange Coast in the first round of the playoffs for the first postseason win in school history.

That showing and the fact the core of the team returned this season meant higher expectations. Again the Wolverines rose to the occasion, this time winning the conference for the schools third title but the first since 2001.

A win tonight over the No. 10 seeded Hornets would set a school record for wins and stretch the teams winning streak to 16 games, also a record. Crebbin, selected conference coach of the year by her peers, said the character of her players has been a big factor.

Its easy for kids to go to an established program and jump on board, she said. But its more rewarding to go to a school where you can make a difference and be a part of the building process. The fact that these girls came here says a lot about them as individuals.

Team chemistry is another intangible that has been pivotal. Crebbin has 10 players, six of them sophomores. The players spend considerable time together off the court as well, using their bye week to go bowling.

Sophomore Sylvia Roland graduated from Rialto High School and originally went to Division II New Mexico Highlands to compete in track. She didnt like it there and transferred to SBVC after talking with former teammate JaNae Westmoreland who played at SBVC the previous two seasons.

Everyone wants to go away. But I got there and didnt like it, she said. Here were like a family. Everyone gets along. Now I wish I would have come here first.

While Crebbin and assistant Julia Smith have put in countless hours attending games at area high schools, word of mouth has also landed them quality players. Sophomore Simeone Baker came to SBVC two years ago because Elizabeth Luke, a former teammate at Twentynine Palms, was playing volleyball for the Wolverines.
Baker looked into the school because of Luke, then found out about its strong nursing program and was sold.

The Wolverines, ranked No. 10 in the state and fifth in Southern California, graduated their two solid post players so this years squad has relied on athleticism and a tenacious defense.

The team is balanced with sophomore guard Shy Walter (12 ppg, 4.5 rpg) followed closely by sophomore point guard Jasmine Mashall (10.1 ppg, 4.1 rg, 4.7 spg, 4.3 apg). Those two were first-team all-conference selections along with Baker (8.7 ppg, 7 rpg), whom Crebbin singles out at the most consistent player on the squad.

They are joined in the starting lineup by Roland (7.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and sophomore forward Ronisha Edwards (9.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) with sophomore guard LaQuita Jordan (9.3 ppg, 2.2 spg, 2.3 apg), the spark plug off the bench.

Showings against common opponents favor the Wolverines as SBVC has beaten three opponents to whom the Hornets have lost. Both teams have common losses to Mt. SAC and Pasadena with those by the Wolverines coming by smaller margins.

The Hornets have five sophomores, with two of those – Jessica Duran (11.2 ppg, 5 rpg) and Amy Richard (11.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg) – the teams top scorers. At 5-11 and 6-1 their height will pose a problem for the smaller but quicker Wolverines.

Were happy about getting the chance to redeem ourselves, Baker said. Its always nice to get to knock out the team that knocked you out last time.

Chaffey, Mt. SAC women start playoffs

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

When the Chaffey College womens basketball team takes the court Friday in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs, it will be facing a team that plays much the same style.

The No. 9 seeded Panthers (24-7) will play at No. 8 Cerritos (24-8) at 7 p.m. Not only are the teams similar, they have played before. If that game is any indication of things to come the playoff game should be tightly contested.

The Falcons won the first game at a tournament hosted by Orange Coast 71-61. That game went to overtime as the teams ended regulation tied at 57.

They are very much like us, third-year Chaffey coach Gary Plunkett said. They like to run and we like to run.

Both of us play a motion offense where we like to spread the floor. It should be a great game. Our girls were excited about getting another chance at them.

The winner of the game will advance to face No. 2 seed Orange Coast (29-3).

The Panthers finished tied for third in the Foothill Conference. They have only two sophomores, one of them starting forward Christina Warren (13.5 ppg, 5 rpg) who netted 23 points the first time the teams played.
Joining her in the starting lineup are four freshmen – guards Tamesha Jackson (13.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Keisha Mackall (11.9 ppg, 3.6 apg), forward Aundria Anderson (10 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and 6-foot-1 center Johnshunay Parson (4.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

Zipporah Brown (5.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), another freshman, has been a steady performer off the bench.

Cerritos, the first place team out of the South Division of the South Coast Conference, has four players averaging double figures led by sophomore guard Maltresa Neely (13.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg). The Falcons are ranked sixth in Southern California and 12th in the state. Plunkett is also quite familiar with the Falcons coaching staff.
Assistant Steve Johnson went to Alta Loma High School and coached in youth leagues in Rancho Cucamonga. He was also an assistant at Dominguez Hills at the same time Plunkett was there.
Cerritos head coach Karen Welliver is in her 25th year and has won more than 500 games. Plunkett recruited many of her players when he was with Dominguez Hills.

Knowing them so well will make it that much more fun, he said. I a looking forward to it.

Defending state champion Mt. SAC (32-1) begins defense of its title on Saturday. Coach Laura Beemans Mounties will host Santa Ana (18-13), which defeated Cuesta 65-56 Wednesday night in a play-in game.
Mt. SAC has won 32 straight games since dropping its season opener to Orange Coast and is led by conference player of the year Jazlyn Davis (18.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), a bounceback from USC.

Other key players include 6-2 sophomore center Carmen Deal (15.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg), sophomore guard Sahfiya Brown (8.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and freshman guard Blaire Edgardo (9.1 ppg).

Citrus (30-1) is the lone area representative still left on the mens side. The top-seeded Owls open play against Imperial Valley (21-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The teams have not played this season.

Citrus is coming off its first Western States Conference title in 25 years and enters riding an 18-game win streak. Its last loss came to Antelope Valley in quarterfinal play at a tournament in Riverside in December.

Redlands native earns All-Northwest Conference honors

After a season that saw her lead Pacific in scoring and rebounding and rank among the conference leaders in both categories, Pacific guard Amy Pedersen, a seniour out Redlands, has been honored by conference coaches with selection to the All-Northwest Conference Women’s Basketball Team.

It is the second straight season that Pedersen has earned all-conference accolades.  She was an honorable mention selection during the 2006-07 season.

“Amy is an outstanding competitor that has helped this women’s basketball program tremendously for the past four years,” said Pacific Head Women’s Basketball Coach Sharon Rissmiller.  “To have as many double-double games as she had this season, and in her career, is a true testament to how hard she works on the court at all times.

“It has truly been a privilege to be able to coach Amy this year.  She definitely deserves all-league honors as she is not only a great basketball player, but she’s an outstanding student, a quality lady and a phenomenal representative of Pacific University.”

Pedersen provided much of the offensive punch for the Boxers, who adjusted to a new offensive system in Rissmiller’s first season.  Pedersen led the Boxers with averages of 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.  She finished the season ranked second in the league in rebounding and third in scoring.

In addition, Pedersen proved to be a presence both inside and outside.  While finishing second for the Boxers with her .431 field goal percentage, Pedersen led Pacific with 1.70 three-pointers made per game and 124 three-point attempts.  She finished the season with nine double-doubles, tying her with Lewis & Clark’s Crystal Castle for most in the conference.

Pedersen led the Boxers in scoring on 12 different occasions and posted four efforts of 20 points per better.  In the second game of the season, Pedersen went off for 27 points on 12 of 20 shooting as the Boxers feel just short in a 66-61 loss to Westminster (Utah), a nationally ranked NAIA Division I program.

Pedersen posted a career high of 29 points, also on 12 of 20 shooting from the field and a 5 of 10 effort from three-point range, in a loss to Morningside (Iowa) played on Dec. 20 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The scoring performance came just hours after Pedersen stepped off the plane from Oregon.

Throughout the season, Pedersen has excelled despite balancing a very strenuous academic schedule.  She is currently finishing course work for her bachelor’s degree in biology, while at the same time taking first year classes in Pacific’s College of Optometry.

West Region rankings – Feb. 27

DIVISION II

WEST REGION POLLS

MEN

1. Alaska-Anchorage
2. Cal State San Bernardino
3. Seattle Pacific
4. Chaminade (Hawaii)
5. Central Washington
6. Humbdolt State
7. Brigham Young-Hawaii
8. Seattle University
9. CS Dominguez Hills
10. UC San Diego

WOMEN

1. Seattle Pacific
2. Chico State
3. Cal State San Bernardino
4. Alaska-Anchorage
5. UC San Diego
6. Sonoma State
7. Northwest Nazarene
8. Central Washington
9. St. Martins
10. Seattle University

UCR’s Cunningham honored by Big West

The Big West Conference announced Monday that UC Riverside senior guard Larry Cunningham has been named Big West Player of the Week for his performances last week. Cunningham became UCR’s all-time leading scorer with his 31-point effort against Hawaii on Saturday and had a team-high 21 points in the win over UC Irvine on Wednesday.

Cunningham (Downey, CA/ Downey HS) passed Howard Lee with his first of two free-throw makes at the 1:10 mark of the second half of UCR’s ESPNU BracketBuster game with Hawaii to move into first place on the all-time scoring list.

He now has 1,390 career points and picks up his second career Player of the Week award after shooting 16 of 28 (57.1%) from the floor and finishing 17 of 19 (87.5%) from the free-throw line during the week. Cunningham averaged 26.0 PPG in the team’s two wins as the Highlanders continue to move closer to earning a spot in the Big West postseason tournament.

The Highlanders return to action this Thursday, traveling to face Cal Poly at 7:30 p.m.

Cal State, Cal Poly make long trip North

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

One can excuse Cal State San Bernardino mens basketball coach Jeff Oliver for looking for a positive omen as his team heads into the most important game of the season.

The Coyotes (21-5, 14-4) will play at Humboldt State (18-7, 13-5) Thursday with a win over the defending champions giving the Coyotes their seventh CCAA title in nine years.

Because of the importance of the game and the 700-mile distance, the Coyotes left Tuesday – a day earlier than is typical. But a series of delays resulted in the team not arriving until noon Wednesday, not much earlier than the womens team which left Wednesday and bussed to Oakland.

Oliver tried to take the delay in stride.

Were staying in the same hotel and I have the same room that I did last year when we won the West Region here, Oliver said. That has to be a good sign.

The mens team had a 7:30 p.m. flight out of LAX Tuesday. It was delayed a half hour. Then, after it did leave, had to return to Los Angeles after an emergency light went on.
The problem couldnt be fixed and another flight was not available so the team ended up checking into a hotel after midnight.

Wednesday morning all went well until it came time to land in Arcata, located on the coast about 50 miles from the Oregon border. Heavy fog made it necessary to circle for more than an hour before finally landing.

Such are the problems when playing a school so remotely located.

The week wont get any easier. After the tonights game the Coyotes will charter a bus and make a 230-mile trip to Rohnert Park to play Sonoma State Friday. That trip can take five hours, even if the weather is good. Oliver is hoping the team can arrive at the second destination by 2 a.m.

Cal Poly Pomona will play the teams in the opposite order. The Broncos (11-12, 10-8) flew into Oakland Wednesday. Coach Greg Kamansky said after tonights game with the Seawolves, his team will drive halfway,  then make the other half of the trek Thursday morning.

It is by far the worst trip, Kamansky said. It really isnt safe to be doing it that late at night. And you really dont want to have to do it the day you play. There is no easy way to do it.

Last year the conference gave schools a day in between those games because of the hazards, not present in any of the other road trips between conference schools.

The situation was addressed at a meeting of athletic directors and the vote favored returning to the back-to-back nights. Cal Poly, Cal State and UC San Diego were the schools voting against that, citing safety concerns.
Cal State Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills were the lone South schools who voted for the back to backs.

Its tough no matter what you do, said Cal State L.A. athletic director Dan Bridges. We felt it was an unfair advantage for those teams to have a day between games.

But those against the move acknowledge that those schools also have an advantage if their opponent has to drive five hours after a game.

So the schools are doing the best they can to deal with the scenario. The Coyotes usually transport their teams in vans but athletic director Kevin Hatcher got a charter bus at a cost of about $4,000 – four times the cost of rental vans.

Bridges said his school did the same, even putting both the mens and womens team on one bus.

Cost is not an issue, Hatcher said. We felt this was the safest thing to do. We dont want our coaches having to drive their teams that late after a game, especially with the possibility of adverse weather conditions. At least with a charter you have a paid, professional driver trained to deal with all situations.

The stakes are a bit higher for the Coyotes, but the Broncos also need wins.
Cal Poly has qualified for the conference tournament but needs to finish in the top four to host a tournament quarterfinal at Kellogg Gymnasium Tuesday. Theyre currently tied with three teams for fourth.

Several north schools loom as a possible opponent for the Broncos. If they dont get to host they could be faced with having to head north again on Monday, two days after returning home from Humboldt.
If that happens the Broncos might decide to stay up north.

Despite the tough journey, Oliver expects a memorable game between teams establishing one of the top rivalries in Division II basketball.

I expect it to be every bit like the game we played in the regional final last year, Oliver said. It is a great atmosphere for college basketball, one our kids will never forget. They are very passionate and knowledegable about their basketball.

Mt. SAC women settle for No. 2 seed

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

Mt. San Antonio College womens basketball coach Laura Beeman had a feeling her teams lone loss of the season might come back to haunt her, even though it came in the first game.

She was right.

The Mounties will head into the state playoffs as the No. 2 seed despite a 32-game win streak. Orange Empire champion Orange Coast (29-3), which defeated Mt. SAC 63-57 on Nov. 9, is the top seed.

There were different sets of criteria used. While three-time and defending state champion Mt. SAC boasted the best record and a higher winning percentage, Orange Coast had a higher strength of schedule both in and out of conference.

Orange Coast had 20 quality wins, Mt. SAC 19. A win by the Mounties in the head-to-head would have flipped that number.

I said it to my assistant (Brian Crichlow) that night, Beeman recalled. I knew we werent going to seem them again so we wouldnt have a chance to avenge that loss. It just goes to show every game does mean something.
Beeman, rounding out her 13th year as coach, said that might not necessarily affect the Mounties in the Southern California Regional since they will still get two home games but it would come into play at the eight-team state tournament.

The Mounties open play on Saturday at home against the winner of Wednesdays play-in game between No. 15 Santa Ana (17-13) and No. 18 Cuesta (21-9).

This time you cant take anyone lightly because its one and done if you lose, no second chances, she said.

Chaffey also made it into the 18-team womens field. The Foothill Conference got four teams in the draw. The others are champion San Bernardino Valley (26-5), runner-up Mt. San Jacinto (21-10) and Antelope Valley (18-13).
The Panthers tied Antelope for the No. 3 spot in the conference but lost the head-to-head with the Marauders, meaning they were relegated to the fourth seed out of the conference.

Coach Gary Plunkett thought his team might get left out but its strength of schedule payed off. The Panthers are seeded No. 9 and will play at No. 8 Cerritos (24-8) on Friday.

I went from thinking we had a good chance to thinking we probably wouldnt get in, he said. So I am just thrilled we made it. I knew there was pretty much no chance of a home game.

Area representation on the mens side is even lighter but it will be a quality team left carrying the banner as Citrus (30-1) was awarded the top seed.

The Owls are riding an 18-game win streak, their last and only loss of the season coming to Antelope Valley 78-70 in the quarterfinals of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic at Riverside Community College in December.
The overall record and perfect 12-0 in Western States Conference play set school records and the conference title is also a first.

Coach Rick Croys team has a first-round bye and will face the winner of Wednesdays play-in between No. 16 El Camino (20-10) and No. 17 Imperial Valley (20-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Chaffey (17-13) did not make the 20-team field. The Panthers finished fifth in the Foothill Conference and could not make the draw ahead of fourth-place San Bernardino Valley (13-15) which was done in by a 4-10 showing in nonconference play.

While the Panthers beat four 20-win teams, they also lost to two conference teams that finished a combined 20 games under .500. They also lost twice to SBVC which is missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

We were young and inconsistent. Thats the bottom line, Coach Jeff Klein said.

SBVC women open playoffs against Fullerton

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

For the San Bernardino Valley College womens basketball team there was both good news and bad news when state playoffs pairings were announced Monday.

The Foothill Conference champion Wolverines are getting a home game against the team they lost to last year.

The bad news is that should they advance, the defending state champion will most likely be the next foe.

Were playing well right now so I dont think it matters much who we play, coach Sue Crebbin said. The teams that are still playing are all good so there wont be an easy game. This team seems to get more up for the better teams anyway.

The seventh-seeded Wolverines (26-5) will square off with No. 10 Fullerton (20-13), the third-place team out of the Orange Empire Conference, at Snyder Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Last year the Hornets eliminated SBVC 77-69 in the Wolverines initial second-round appearance in school history. That came days after Crebbins squad managed a win over Orange Coast for the its first postseason victory.

We have everyone back and they havent forgotten, Crebbin said. I would think that is incentive enough. The girls are excited about getting to play them again.

Defending state champion Mt. SAC (32-1) is seeded second in the Southern California Regional behind Orange Coast (29-3). The Mounties lone loss came to the Pirates the first game of the season.

Mt. SAC starts out by facing the winner of Wednesdays play-in game between No. 15 Santa Ana (17-13) and No. 18 Cuesta (21-9). Then it would face the SBVC-Fullerton winner.

The Foothill Conference has four teams in the 18-team draw. The others are Mt. San Jacinto (21-10), Chaffey (24-7) and Antelope Valley (18-13).

The Chaffey Panthers tied Antelope for the No. 3 spot in the conference but lost the head-to-head with the Marauders, meaning they were relegated to the fourth seed out of the conference.

Coach Gary Plunkett thought his team might get left out but its strength of schedule payed off. The Panthers are seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Cerritos (24-8) on Friday.

I went from thinking we had a good chance to thinking we probably wouldnt get in, he said. So I am just thrilled we made it. I knew there was pretty much no chance of a home game.

On the mens side the news was not as good for the local teams. The Wolverines (13-15) settled for fourth in the conference and were done in by a 4-10 showing in nonconference play. It is the first time in 10 years the school did not get into the playoffs.

SBVCs failure to get in also meant the end for Chaffey (17-13) which finished fifth in the conference and could not get in without the Wolverines making it too.

The Foothill Conference has three teams in, all of whom tied for the conference championship. But Mt. San Jacinto went in as the top team from the conference and was rewarded with a No. 5 seed. Antelope Valley is seeded 10th in the 20-team field with College of the Desert No. 11.

Riverside (25-7), the No. 3 team out of the Orange Empire Conference, is the No. 9 seed and will travel to No. 8 Los Angeles City (24-8).

Citrus (30-1) is the top seed. The Owls have won 18 straight games and await the winner of a play-in game between El Camino and Imperial Valley.

SBVC player, coach honored by Foothill Conference

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

Foothill Conference honors have been handed out and local individuals took many top accolades.
Lewis Leonard of San Bernardino Valley College was named Most Valuable Player.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore averaged 25.2 points a game which ranked second in the state in that category behind Harold Cleveland of Pasadena (25.4). Leonard also averaged 6.5 rebounds.
He was also a starter last year for the Wolverines who had three other highly touted players.

Coach Gerry Wright said his standout improved on both ends of the court.

He put up great numbers but his biggest improvement was in defense. Before he came here he didnt know the meaning of the word. The other thing he learned was how to put up numbers in the framework of the offense. He became much more efficient. Instead of going 7-for-30 he could get the same points going 7-for-15.

Sophomore teammate Johnny Barnes was also named to the first team. Chaffey is represented by Winston Robinson and Nick Turner, both freshmen. The first team also included Kaiser grad Alan Alston of Victor Valley College and Jerome Davis of Barstow.

Bo Harrison and Jacon Letson of SBVC, both products of Redlands East Valley, were honorable mention.

On the womens side, San Bernardino Valley Coach Sue Crebbin took top coach honors for leading the Wolverines to just their third conference title and the first since 2001.

The first team also included sophomores Simeone Baker, Shy Walter and Jasmine Marshall of SBVC, Christina Warren and Tamesha Jackson of Chaffey, Jallisa Butler of Barstow and Rachel Gordon of Victor Valley.
Mt. San Jacintos Michelle Simmons was Most Valuable Player.

Honorable mention selections included LaQuita Jordan of SBVC, Aundria Anderson of Chaffey, Brittney Pham of Barstow and Gennifer Hempel of Victor Valley.