Upland’s Josh Woods decides on UCLA

Upland High School outside linebacker Josh Woods has made a verbal commitment to UCLA. He also visited USC and was considering trips to Boise State and Arizona as well.

He had a handful of other offers too – Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, Boise State and Nevada.

“I wanted to stay close so my family and friends could come see me play,” he said. “t will be a great education and I really like the campus, the coaching staff, the players and what the program has to offer.”

Woods, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, transferred from Victor Valley High School after his sophomore year but was ruled ineligible by the CIF last year so he had to sit out.

He never lost faith that would prove costly. What most likely helped was Woods’ showing at a handful of camps and combines. He participated in the Army All-American Combine in Texas as well as one sponsored by Rivals at Fullerton College and the Nike Football Training Combine at Redondo Union High School.

Having to sit out last year has only served as more incentive for Woods this year, The Highlanders are expected to be one of the best teams in the Inland Empire with two others who have already committed to Pac 12 schools in quarterback Tyler Hilinski and defensive back Kameron Powell.

Etiwanda baseball standout Kyle Isbel commits to UNLV

Etiwanda High School infielder Kyle Isbel has made a verbal commitment to UNLV

He also visited a number of Division I schools including USC, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge but decided he’d take the option out of state.

“I like the atmosphere there and the new facilities,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with the coaches and got to talk to some of the players and it seemed like a great fit.”

It helped that Isbel has another good friend going there in Austin Pritchard of Riverside J.W. North who has also committed to the school.

Isbel hit .347 with seven doubles and 14 RBI as a junior for the Eagles, earning second team All-Baseline League honors. He plans to major in business or sports medicine.

UNLV finished first in the Mountain West Conference last year. The team was 36-25 overall and 20-10 in conference play.

 

Hailey Freeman of Etiwanda headed to Grand Canyon

 

Etiwanda High School softball standout Hailey Freeman (left) has made a verbal commitment to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.

Grand Canyon had been an NCAA Division II school but recently made the jump to Division I and has forked a lot of money into new athletic facilities.

Freeman, a third baseman who will be a junior in the fall, helped the Eagles to a second place showing in the Baseline League last spring as a sophomore.

She picked that school over Northeastern State and Southern Utah, after visiting the campus last week. It also helps that good friend and teammate Megan Stevens is also going to that school. The two have been playing on the same team since they were 8 years old.

“I was going to wait to decide until maybe the end of my junior year but I really liked it when I went to visit,” she said.

She plans to major in criminal justice or forensics.

Here’s what Huskies’ basketball coach Steve Baik says about Nnamdi Okongwu

Today we lost a significant member in our community. Nnamdi Okongwu was heading into his senior year at Chino Hills High and was one of the best basketball players in California. Tragically, he lost his life due to a head injury while skateboarding.

I feel it is my privilege to recognize and honor one of the most special individuals I have ever known. I loved him for his amazing heart as a person.

This past Friday, Nnamdi had a break from summer school, so he spent his day helping kids at our Summer Basketball Camp. He will be remembered for his amazing, God-given talents. As a basketball player, he had unbelievable natural skills and potential. (He was being recruited by several Division 1 Colleges)

He just loved people and was at his best just being a son, a brother, a friend and a teammate. I would sometimes ask him about his family, and he would always light up talking about them. He often bragged that his younger brothers were going to be better basketball players than him. I could always sense that he was so proud of being a big brother to his siblings and a son to such loving and hard working parents.

Although we cannot comprehend why this has happened to such a special individual, all we know is that Nnamdi was like a seed planted in this world that brought us so much love and joy. His physical life may have ended today, but his legacy as a person will carry on. We will not shrink back and fear because of an accident like this.

We may have lost Nnamdi in this life, but it is only temporary. We will look forward to have eternity with him one day. We will not fear death. We will not fear life.

We will move forward and become better for having known someone so special. We will have a greater love for those around us by being better coaches, parents, sons and daughters, better friends and better teammates.

We will always remember Nnamdi’s big smile and will look forward to seeing it again one day. Our loss today is Heaven’s gain, and we look forward to seeing you again Nnamdi!

With all of our love,

Coach Baik and Your Chino Hills Family

Please support Nnamdi’s family now by donating to them at: www.gofundme.com/4unnamdi

Chino Hills basketball player in bad shape after skateboard accident

Chino Hills High School basketball player Nnamdi Okongwu is in a hospital after a skateboarding accident left him in a coma.

Huskies basketball coach Steve Baik was on vacation in Hawaii when notified of the accident in a text from his athletic director so he knew few details.

The 6-foot-9 center, who will be a senior in the fall, was an integral factor in the Huskies Sierra League title and postseason run. The honorable mention All-Inland Valley selection helped the Huskies to a spot in the Southern Section Open Division championship game where they lost to nationally ranked No. 1 Mater Dei at the Honda Center.

Chino Hills played in the state portion of the playoffs in Division I and made the South Region championship before losing to Corona Centennial at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena.

 

Cayer named athletic director at Ganesha

Don Cayer has been named athletic director at Ganesha High School.

He previously served as a teacher at Fremont, which doesn’t have athletics. He was also football coach at Pomona for two years before moving over to Ganesha. He served as assistant athletic director last year so the responsibilities won’t be new to him.

Cayer is also the school’s head football coach, a position he took a year ago. The school district has restructured its staff positions so Cayer will have much of the school day to get administrative things done before heading to practice.

“It  should work out. At least that’s the plan,” he said.

Kaiser’s Chris Mathewson named second-team All-American

There is yet one more honor for Kaiser High School baseball standout Chris Mathewson.

The senior pitcher-first baseman was named a second-team All-American by MaxPreps.  He batted .511 (45 for 88) with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs, 33 RBI and 37 runs scored but was an even bigger factor on the mound. He went 9-2 with an 0.79 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 62 innings.

It is the latest of many accolades. Mathewson, who has signed with Long Beach State, was a first-team All-CIF selection and was a first-team All-State honoree by CalHiSports which also named him Medium Schools Player of the Year.

Mathewson was also an All-Inland Valley selection.

Webb quarterback Kienan Dixon to head East

Webb junior receiver Kienan Dixon loses the ball with Army-Navy sophomore defensive back Cameron Coe providing tight coverage

Kienan Dixon of Webb School will attend and play football at NCAA Division III Dickinson College (Penn.).

The Upland native threw for 1,050 yards with seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 10 games last year for the Gauls (3-7).

Dickinson, a liberal-arts college that is home to 2,400 students from across the nation and around the world, competes in the Centennial Conference. The Red Devils were 3-7 overall, 3-6 in conference play.

CalHiSports recognizes Inland Valley softball talent

It was another banner year on the softball field for are high schools. Jurupa Hills won a championship and Citrus Valley and Chino were runners-up.

Not surprisingly, player from those teams are among those singled out by CalHiSports which names an All-State team, quite a venture for a state this big.

Senior pitcher Miranda Viramontes of Chino, junior shortstop Tannon Snow of Chino Hills and senior catcher Janell Wheaton of San Dimas were named to the elite All-State first team which included representatives from schools all sizes throughout the entire state.

Second team honorees include shortstop Paige Halstead of Los Osos, junior outfielder Zoe Casas of Aquinas, freshman outfielder Taylon Snow and senior pitcher Patricia Parks of Chino Hills and senior pitcher Natalie Calderas of Jurupa Hills.

Third team selections were senior second baseman McKenzie Long of Los Osos, outfielder Chloe Melanson of Bonita and third baseman Sara Ketelsleger of Ayala.

The Snow sisters, Casas, Halstead and junior pitcher Brooke Bolinger of Yucaipa also were named to the All-State first team underclassmen team.

Second-team underclassmen state honorees were junior catcher Kelly Martinez of Yucaipa, sophomore first baseman Alyssa Gonzalez of Chino and junior infielder Taylor Rowland of Ayala.

Separate teams were selected for medium and small schools. Wheaton, Calderas and senior Destiney Henderson fo Kaiser were first team medium schools selections while junior pitcher Taylor Troost of Citrus Valley was second team.

Among small schools first team honorees were Casas and junior pitcher Allie Hotetz of Aquinas, senior infielder Sarah Guillen of Pomona Catholic and sophomore outfielder Madison Paige of Ontario Christian.

Second team small school selections were senior infielder Autumn Bartholomay of Pomona Catholic, junior pitcher Ariana Ramos of Ontario Christian and senior Danielle Stusy-Henderson of Bloomington Christian.

 

 

Kaiser’s Chris Mathewson earns state honor from CalHiSports

Senior Chris Mathewson of Kaiser has landed another big honor. He has been named Medium Schools Player of the Year for the state by CalHiSports.

He dominated at the plate and on the mound. Starting the season with a perfect game, he finished 9-2 with a 0.79 ERA while striking out 105 and walking just five in 62 innings. At the plate, Mathewson hit .511 with three home runs while driving in 33 runs and scoring 37 times.

Although Kaiser fell short in the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs with a second-round loss, Mathewson nonetheless led the Cats to a 25-2 record and No. 1 state ranking in Division III until that loss.

Mathewson will play next at Long Beach State despite being chosen in the 28th round of the recent MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers.

The last two from the Inland Empire to be named as Medium Schools State Player of the Year have been Kyle Skipworth from Rubidoux of Riverside for 2008 and Tyrone Hill of Yucaipa for 1991.