Baseline thriller meets expectations

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There are big games at all levels all the time. About half the time they live up to their billing. But the showdown between Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga sure did. No. 1 Rancho won 20-16.

Give the Grizzlies credit. Despite playing without quarterback Jason Crain the Grizzlies (4-4, 1-2) gave the undefeated Cougars (8-0, 3-0) all they wanted and more. Donovan Williams, normally a running back, filled in admirably and kept his team on top until the very end. It looked like they were going to pull off a major upset that was going to turn the Baseline League upside down.

Oh the quarterback drama! Nick Baiz has two and had a decision to make. Use sophomore Angel Matute who has been the guy the last month with Gage Pucci injured. Or go with Pucci who was healthy enough to start.

He went with Matute, which was probably the right call. When Matute struggle he went to Pucci in the second half. Another right call.

Pucci then led a resurgence. He got the Cougars in striking distance, closing the gap to 16-13 with a touchdown pass to Blake Fisher – the other hero.

Then he went down with the Cougars driving in the final minutes. Cougars at the Los Osos 20. Back comes Matute, who responds by throwing the winning pass to Fisher with 1:14 left.

It says a lot about Matute’s character.

We’ll see who Baiz starts next week.

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Etiwanda football game moved

The prep football game between Glendora (6-1, 1-1) and visiting Etiwanda (4-3, 1-1) scheduled for Citrus College has been move to Charter Oak.

The move was made necessary due to a major power outage on the Citrus College campus. Kickoff is still set for 7 p.m.

It’s a big game for both teams who are battling for a playoff berth in the Baseline League.

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Bracing for the battle of unbeatens

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It is unusual to get to Week 7 in prep football and have two unbeaten teams going head-to-head. But that’s what we’ll have on Friday when Glendora squares off against Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos High School at 7 p.m.

Some compelling numbers to ponder. Glendora has won a lot of close games, with the total margin of victory in those six being 23 points – four decided by a field goal or less and the largest deficit being eight points.

It’s the opposite for Rancho Cucamonga who has won its six by a whopping 130 points. Just one close call – 32-29 over Bishop Amat.

So does that mean Glendora has played the tougher schedule? Well no. Glendora’s opponents are a combined 16-21 this season while Rancho’s are above .500 at 20-18.

Glendora has beaten one foe with a winning record (Bonita) and two that are .500 – Ayala and Upland.

Rancho has beaten three teams with winning records (Amat, Murrieta Valley and Etiwanda) and one who is .500 (Norco). Of course Glendora could also argue that a couple of its foes, namely Upland and Charter Oak, are better than their record might indicate because of they schedules they have played.

Those numbers might indicate the edge goes to Rancho Cucamonga if you’re trying to pick a winner. But it also means Glendora has made the clutch plays when it needed to and that makes for a dangerous opponent.

Hope the games lives up to its billing!





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Another Rancho Cucamonga athlete decides

Soccer standout Lauren Flowers of Rancho Cucamonga High School has made a commitment to University of Houston.

The junior defender is the fourth Cougars player to make a decision on college, joining junior Ally Prisock (USC) and seniors Andrea Mensen (UC Irvine) and Kayla Lombardo (Long Beach State).

Coach Chris Van Duin says a couple of players have visits this weekend to the University of Great Falls. They are seniors Serafina Robles and Sandralee DeVille.

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Baseline League play gets underway


The match-ups in the Baseline League are pretty compelling in almost every sport. The proximity of the schools makes for natural rivalries, with the success of many programs also adding another layer of anticipation.

When we’re talking about football there is even more excitement. This could be the most interesting league chase, at least in the last decade.

It isn’t so much about the top teams. Upland (3-2) and Rancho Cucamonga (5-0) again look like the most formidable contenders. But it’s more about the progress of the middle and bottom tier teams.

Glendora, 3-7 a year ago, is off to a 5-0 start. Etiwanda (3-2) and Los Osos (3-2) look much improved, with new coaches re-energizing their respective programs.

Then there’s Alta Loma (4-1). The Braves were also optimistic last year when they went 4-1 in league play only to go 0-fer the Baseline and end up 4-6 and stretching their league losing streak to 20 games (four complete seasons). They surely want to snap that before moving into the Mt. Badly, errr, the Mt. Baldy next year.

The Braves are better no doubt, but so is everyone else.

League play begins on Thursday with Etiwanda squaring off against Rancho at their home away from home – Los Osos. More great battles to come!

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No. 9 point guard in nation chooses USC over UCLA, Kansas and Indiana

Etiwanda’s Jordan McLaughlin didn’t exactly make the conventional choice when he committed to USC today, but could the point guard be the type of transcendent talent that could help turn the program around? It’s certainly a possibility. After all, the senior has often been compared to Etiwanda alum Darren Collison, a four-year NBA veteran who led UCLA to three Final Fours.

The college coaching community certainly thinks a lot of McLaughlin. The final list of schools under consideration include some of the most storied programs in the country in Kansas, UCLA and Indiana. In the end, I don’t think McLaughlin wanted to leave Southern California and Andy Enfield, the coach that took Florida Gulf Coast to the sweet 16 last season, gave the Trojans the edge. Who can blame a 17-year-old for being intrigued by an offense that took the college basketball world by storm a few months ago?

Here is the complete story on McLaughlin’s recruitment.
Continue reading

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Alta Loma’s strange schedule

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Alta Loma turned in a solid performance on Thursday beating Montclair 30-6. Unfortunately it came in front of a sparse crowd. That’s too bad. It’s a football program that seems to be making strides.

Maybe you can blame the poor showing on a week-day game or the unusually hot and humid weather.

The Braves have four Thursday games this season which doesn’t exactly make for an ideal situation. There just isn’t the same buzz on a Thursday night when it comes to high school football. Most teams have a weekday game here and there. But four is a lot, nearly have the schedule.

Braves coach Joe Szczepanski says its just the result of playing several teams that share stadiums such as Ontario, Etiwanda, Fontana and Grand Terrace.

The bad draw is one downfall of the Thursday game. But it’s also tough having one less day to prepare.

The positive is that it gives coaches a chance to maybe go scout another team on a Friday night.

“It has its positives and its negatives,” Braves coach Joe Szczepanksi said. “It’s probably better to look at the positives because there isn’t much you can do about it.”

The Braves (1-1) have another of those next week, playing Fontana on Thursday at Chaffey.



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Etiwanda basketball standout headed to USC


Reigning Inland Valley Player of the Year Amy Okonkwo of Etiwanda High School has made a verbal commitment to USC.

Okonkwo averaged 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds her first year with the Eagles (28-4) after transferring from Baseline League rival Los Osos.

She was at her best in the biggest games, scoring a season-high 28 points in the Eagles’ 73-72 win over Mater Dei, then ranked No. 1 in the nation, in the CIF Southern Section semifinal. Included in that point tally was a 3-pointer in overtime that gave her team a 67-64 lead it never relinquished.

The 6-foot-1 forward also tallied 19 against Corona Santiago in the CIF championship game and 18 against Long Beach Poly in a state playoff loss.

Okonkwo heads a group of five all headed to Division I schools. The others are point guard McKenzie Fort (Oregon), wing Alyssa Anderson (UNLV), point guard Cherise Harris (Arizona) and center Daeja Smith (Cal State Fullerton).

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Upland coach refutes report that coaches were fired, players declared ineligible

Upland football coach Tim Salter didn’t shed much light on Thursday’s Los Angeles Times report that two Upland coaches were removed from their positions and three Upland players had been declared ineligible.

Salter gestured to a group of at least nine Upland players not in uniform, but declined to specify how many were not playing due to injury.

“All I can tell you is that everything in (the report) is not true,” Salter said. “We’ll try to get this all straightened out.”

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