Siaosi leading Antelope Valley

Hesperia native Florida Siaosi is back on the basketball court — this time at Antelope Valley College.

The 5-foot-11 center was a multi-sport standout at Sultana, graduating in 2006. She excelled in both track and basketball and had Division I offers in both. She spent her freshman year at Cal State Bakersfield but got homesick and returned to the High Desert after one season.

She sat out the 2007-08 season but was seen working out at Victor Valley College last fall.

Now she is back leading Marauder team that is expected to be in the hunt for a Foothill Conference title. Siaosi is averaging 16.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks — all team highs.

Siaosi has scored in double figures in 14 of 15 games, with a high of 24 points twice. She has reached double figures in rebounds nine times with a high of 23 rebounds against Mt. SAC, 19 of those on the defensive end.

Cal State men still struggling

Cal State San Bernardino men’s basketball coach Jeff Oliver isn’t quite sure what to do. On paper he thinks he has a talented team. But that hasn’t translated to the court. The Coyotes most recent loss came 63-62 to Westmont, an NAIA team that local rival Cal Poly Pomona beat by 15.

“We lack fight and physicality and that’s a huge problem,” he said. “Until we get some we’re not going to beat anyone. We’re not fighting for loose balls, fighting for a rebound. We’re just not competing.”

Oliver addressed the issue before practice on Monday. He tried simplifying the offense last week after the first two California Collegiate Athletic Association games. It worked to a point. The Coyotes (2-4) held their last foe to 63.

“We were in the right position so we did better in that respect,” he said. “But I never thought we’d be held to 62 points.”

Oliver hasn’t given up hope. All his players came from successful programs so they know what it takes to win. And the problem isn’t that they’re bad individuals.

“It’s a great group of kids. I enjoy being around them. They’re nice, maybe too nice. It isn’t like a few years ago when I had knuckleheads.”

The Coyotes will travel to Las Vegas for a pair of nonconference games Saturday and Sunday against Grand Canyon and Academy of Arts.

Help is on the way in the form of 6-foot-7 forward Brandon Brown, who should be eligible later this week.


La Verne women off to 4-0 start

The University of La Verne women’s basketball team has looked solid in the early going, although the Leopards (4-0) have played just a handful of games.

Senior forward Trenecca Jones (14.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) has put up decent numbers, although they aren’t quite up to where they have been in previous years.

She has had more help as three others are averaging double figures — sophomore guard Ashley Paul (14.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), junior forward Emily Carrillo (13.8 ppg) and freshman forward Clarissa Holz (11.3 ppg, 6 rpg).

The Leopards are also getting a boost from a local player who has returned. Senior Lillie Parks (Eisenhoer HS/Chaffey College) has transferred in from Division II Alaska-Anchorage, where she played on a nationally ranked teams as a junior.

Next up for the Leopards is the University or Redlands Winter Classic on Friday and Saturday. They will play 5:30 p.m. games both nights.

Two local soccer players honored

Chaffey College sophomore soccer standout Tyler Mitchell was named to the NSCAA/Adidas Junior College All-American first team.

Mitchell, out of Upland High School, was the Panthers’ team captain for two years. He also earned first-team All-Foothill Conference honors both seasons, leading the Panthers (15-5-2) to their best season in school history.

Among the other 25 players chosen nationwide was Mt. SAC freshman defender Ivan Armenta, an Ontario High School product who led the Mounties to a state runner-up finish.

The All-America selections will be recognized at the annual All-America Luncheon, to held in St. Louis, Mo., on Jan. 17, as part of the 2009 NSCAA Convention.

SBVC women win consolation final

PASADENA — The San Bernardino Valley College women’s basketball team has already had plenty of ups and downs and the season is barely one-third over.

So it is no surprise that was again the case when the Wolverines took the floor against Santa Monica in the consolation final of the Rose City Classic on Saturday at Pasadena City College. Fortunately for coach Sue Crebbin, the Wolverines finished on a high note and walked away with a 67-50 victory.

The Wolverines (6-6) turned over their roster almost completely, having graduated their top six scorers from a team that won a Foothill Conference title and set a school record for wins.
Only three players are back and they have been asked to shoulder more of the load. The growing process also has been slowed by injuries to two key players.

If that wasn’t enough, she had two assistant coaches leave for other jobs just as school started.

“We have some potential, but the girls are still trying to figure where they fit in,” Crebbin said. “And the girls we had last year are in different roles now. They came off the bench when there really wasn’t any pressure. Now they’re in there at crunch time and having to make decisions.”

SBVC went from being up by 10 to down by four to winning the game handily. Much of the reason for the roller-coaster ride was the 28 turnovers.

The Wolverines were ahead 32-27 just 2:30 into the second half but had seven turnovers in the next seven minutes, allowing the Corsaiers (3-6) to go up 40-36 on a putback by Chantel Diaz for their biggest lead of the contest.

As quickly as the Wolverines lost control, they gained it back. The contest was even at 46 with 6:23 to go, but SBVC tallied the next 11 points, with four players factoring in that run. A driving layup by all-tournament selection Eisha Sheppard put SBVC up 48-46.
She added a layup off a fastbreak sparked by a rebound from Dwayanna Pullum that later made it 51-46 and the Wolverines never looked back.

The run ended with a pair of free throws by Pullum and a fastbreak bucket by Angela Green for a 57-46 lead with 3:42 to play.

“I’m not sure they’re always aware of the situation and maybe that’s a good thing,” Crebbin said. “They just keep playing and keep shooting. They don’t seem to worry or panic too much.”

Sheppard chalked up a team-high 18 points to go with six rebounds and five steals. Kim Kipp added 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Pullum contributed 12 with nine boards.

Santa Monica relies on its long-distance shooting and made six 3-pointers in the game. The Corsaiers was led by Audriel Wyrick with 10 points. They were represented on the all-tournament team by Diaz.

“This was just one of those grind it out kind of games,” Crebbin said. “It was good to win one like that.”


Chaffey men win thriller

Lamar Williams scored 30 points and Winston Robinson added 20 with 10 rebounds as Chaffey (12-2) downed Santa 86-84 to win the Roadrunner Roundup at Rio Hondo.

Williams’ seventh 3-pointer of the night tied the score at 82 with 1:30 left. He then ripped the ball loose from Santa Ana’s D’Andre Denan and scored giving the Panthers an 84-82 lead.

Two free throws by Nick Turner with 22 seconds left upped the lead to 86-82. Santa Ana inbounded the ball scrambled up court to get a shot off, but an intentional foul was called on Chaffey. Denan knocked down both free throws to make the score 86-84 with 2.6 seconds in regulation.

Santa Ana received the ball back setting up the last second play to Tyler Averill, but Turner stole the ball as time expired.

All 14 Panthers contributed over the three game tournament.

Coyotes lose to Westmont 63-61

Chris Jackson hit a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to give host Westmont a 63-61 win over Cal State San Bernardino in nonconference play Saturday.

The Coyotes (2-4) trailed by as many as nine but got in striking distance late with Devin Montgomery hitting a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 61-59 with 45 seconds left.

Cal State drew even following a Warrior turnover when DuBois Williams hit a pair of free throws with 36 seconds to go. Westmont (5-4) took a timeout 10 seconds later to set up a final play.

Williams had 11 and Reggie Brown nine. Montgomery, averaging 21.5 coming in, was held to eight and hit just two of 11 tries from the field as the Coyotes shot just 39.2 percent.

Westmont, which shot 46.7 percent from the field, was led by Dan Rasp with 24 point.

Cherniss honored nationally by peers

Cal State San Bernardino volleyball coach Kim Cherniss has been selected Division II national coach of the year by her peers.

Cherniss directed the Coyotes to a 30-4 record and their first appearance in the national championship match. The Coyotes headed into the Elite Eight ranked No. 1 in the country and fought their way to the final before losing to No. 1 Concordia St. Paul on that team’s home court.

It is a deserving honor for a coach that has built a program and led it national prominence. The fact that she has done it using mostly local talent is even more noteworthy. She recruited players from non-volleyball hotspots and turned them into some of the top players in the country.

Anyone can take quality players and win with them. But Cherniss has been able to indentify raw talent and help those players develop into top athletes. The best case in point is senior rightside hitter Jessica Granados who played at Beaumont High School which was average at best and finished her career as a first-team All-American.

The next great player coming out of the program could be Samantha Middleborn, a freshman out of Carter who saw considerable playing time down the stretch this season.

Former Fontana standout faring well in Washington

Former Fontana High School basketballer Ira Graham is off to a great start in his senior season at Division II Western Washington University. The 6-foot guard is averaging 18.5 points and shooting 62 percent (27-for-33) for the Vikings who are 6-0.

Graham averaged 18.5 points last year, earning All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors. He made three all-tournament teams and was named the school’s most outstanding player.

Earlier this year he went over the 1,000-point plateau for his career. If the Vikings perform as expected he will be a top contender for conference player of the year honors.

His team will be Las Vegas next week for a pair of games, one of them against Cal Poly Pomona.

Cal State’s Cherniss wins national coaching honor

Cal State San Bernardino coach Kim Cherniss has been selected Division II National Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

In her 18 years at Cal State, Cherniss has led the program to national prominence, directing the Coyotes (30-4) to their first championship match earlier this month. Cal State beat California-Pennsylvania and Truman in the Elite Eight before losing to reigning champion and tournament host Concordia-St. Paul 3-2.

The Coyotes spent four weeks atop the Coaches Poll and ended the year with a final ranking of No. 2, capturing a California Collegiate Athletic Association championship and the NCAA West Region title.

“It’s a nice honor,” Cherniss said. “It’s not why we do what we do. The on-court success is the motivation. But it’s a nice acknowledgement, especially from coaches who are going through the same thing.”

During her time at Cal State San Bernardino, Cherniss has won 382 contests, and since 1996 she has been victorious in 83 percent of her matches with a 313-62 mark. The Coyotes have won six CCAA championships, including three straight, and have captured three regional titles, advancing to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 for nine consecutive years.

It is the first national honor for Cherniss. She has also been named top coach in the conference three times and best in the region on three occasions.

Cherniss will be honored at the 2008 Jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon in Omaha, Neb., Thursday in conjunction with the 2008 AVCA Annual Convention.