Basketball player Cameron Shelton transfers from Chino Hills to Damien

Chino Hills Cameron Shelton (20) and Damien’s Isaiah White (3) battle for a loose ball during a Baseline League game. Both teams we selected to play in the Open Division in the playoffs.

Junior guard Cameron Shelton has transferred from Chino Hills to Damien.

Shelton was a key starter for the Huskies as a freshman in 2014-2015.

Last year he was the first player off the bench for a Huskies team that went 35-0, won Baseline League, Southern Section and state Open Division titles and was declared national champion by multiple organizations.

He said the move had nothing to do with playing time or the athletic part of the equation. It was about academics.

“Most of my early life I went to a Christian school,” he said. “My parents thought it would be better for me the next two years. They have a 90-something percent college acceptance rate so this was more about my future.”

Shelton said he still considers the Huskies his friends and he’ll miss being on the court with them. It will also be a little bit strange to play against them as a member of a rival league team.

It is made a bit easier by the fact that the team had a historic run last year that can probably never be equaled.

“I’m always going to have those memories,” he said. “It was special. Those guys are my friends and they’ll always be my friends.”

Right now Shelton is focused on improving his game. He is playing for Watson Elite 16-under which ironically is coached by Matt Dunn, who was the coach at Damien until last season.

Shelton said Dunn had nothing to do with the decision.

“He didn’t even know I did it. I never really mentioned it to him.”

No doubt he’ll be a welcomed addition to a Damien squad that won a league title two years ago and was second to Chino Hills last year. The Spartans graduated their two leading scorers.

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Damien wins MaxPreps tournament with win over Villa Park

The Damien basketball team registered a 74-60 win over Villa Park in the championship game of the MaxPreps Holiday Tournament.

Colorado-bound Bryce Peters was named Most Valuable Player. He tallied 32 points, three rebounds, and five assists.

Also making the All-Tournament team were senior forward Isaiah White and sophomore guard Elijah Mccullough.

The Spartans, who ran their win streak to five games, improve to 14-1 with the victory.

They play in the Ron Massey Classic at Long Beach Jordan starting Saturday.


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Former Damien star Malik Fitts commits to South Florida

Former Damien High School basketball standout Malik Fitts has made a verbal commitment to the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

Fitts, who helped the Spartans to the CIF Division 3 state championship in March, is currently enrolled at Brewster Academy, a private prep school located in Wolfeboro, N.H.

He had been playing in a travel ball tournament in Las Vegas when he was spotted by South Florida coach Orlando Antigua.

He had been playing on the same team as another player who had committed to USF.

“I had 31 points and played very well and he started talking to me after that,” Fitts said.

Fitts was also considering DePaul, Bradley, Nevada and Hawaii. He had unofficial visits to Portland and UC Riverside.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard had some offers coming out Damien but wanted to take an extra year to work on maturing physically as well as improving his SAT test score.

Fitts was a first team Baseline League and All-Inland Valley selection last year as a senior.

Fitts plans to major in business.

“I am really excited about the opportunity,” he said.

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Damien basketball standout Bryce Peters commits to Colorado

Damien basketball Bryce Peters has made a verbal commitment to Colorado, doing so following a visit to that school last week.

“I got there and really just felt a positive energy everywhere around me,” he said. “It was from the coaching staff on down in the community. It was different from other places.”

Peters had a final six that also included Wyoming, Utah, Kansas State, UNLV and Grand Canyon. Wyoming and UNLV were the options that came closest to Colorado.

Peters, a 6-foot-4 guard, is looking for playing time immediately.

“I was the only guard they recruited. They went after big men. So I am looking forward to getting in there and playing,” he said.

Peters averaged 14.4 points, earning first-team All-Baseline League honors and teaming with Jeremy Hemsley and Malik Fitts to give the Spartans three double-figures scoring options. Among his top performances was a 20-point showing in the Southern California Regional final win over Cathedral. Also had 22 in first win over Chino Hills.

He is one of few returners from a team that won the Division 3 state championship and is eagerly awaiting his senior season.

“The decision is out of the way so I can focus on school and my senior year,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty exciting.”


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Damien’s Bryce Peters overwhelmed with college options

Damien High School senior Bryce Peters admits he has been caught a little off guard by the college recruiting process. He got his first offer as a freshman and it was from UTEP. By the end of his sophomore year he had nine.

But now the Spartans standout has more than 20. Chalk that up to a good showing in travel ball as well as Damien’s run to the Division 3 state championships earlier this spring.

“It has just kind of exploded,” he said. “I am thankful for the opportunities but it has been a little overwhelming at time. My phone is blowing up and it seems like every week there is a new school calling me.”

Peters has gotten a lot of help through the process from his parents, as well uncles Tracy and Cameron Murray.

Peters, a first-team All-Inland Valley and Baseline League selection, has cut his list to six schools – UNLV, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas State and Division I newcomer Grand Canyon.

He has visited Wyoming and Utah and will travel to UNLV next week while Colorado is on the schedule for Sept. 10. He has yet to schedule Kansas State but plans to do so.

He has had unofficial trips to others including USC and Pepperdine and looked around at Cal when the Spartans where there to play in the state title game in March.

He plans to major in architecture so that will play a major role in his decision.

He would also like to play in a program where hard-nosed defense is a focal point.

“I know what hard-nosed, tough defense is,” he said. “You play as much basketball as most college players have and everyone can score. But not everyone can go out there and play great defense.”

As to the rumors that Peters was considering transferring to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas? Well they were true. But Peters decided to stay put, mainly because it his senior year and the talks he had with Mike LeDuc, who replaced Matt Dunn who accepted the same position at St. John Bosco.

With the core of the Spartans title-winning team having graduated, Peters looms as the marquee player.

“If it wasn’t my senior year I probably would have done it,” he said. “But everything works out and I’m excited about this coming season. People are underestimating us because of the players we lost, but we’ll be ready.”


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A round of applause for coaches who led their teams to great things

Yesterday’s Top 10 featured the top team performances of the past school year. Now it’s time to highlight the coaches, who don’t get nearly enough credit most of the time.

Naturally many on this list are ones from team’s we spotlighted yesterday. And yes it’s hard to narrow it down to just 10. I also wanted to include some that weren’t obvious choices, so here goes . . .

10. Ben Davies, Alta Loma girls soccer (24-5)
The Braves looked to be a true threat to win a Division 5 CIF title all season. Then star player Leah Pruitt went down with what looked like a season-ending knee injury vs. Montclair on Jan. 28. There was a brief hiccup the next game as the Braves lost to Colony. But they regrouped nicely, even without Pruitt to win the league title. Pruitt amazingly returned vat the end of the season and Alta Loma managed to get to the quarterfinal before losing to Palm Desert 3-0.

9. Jackie Robinson, Los Osos track
The Grizzles took five athletes to the state competition and four of those placed in a total of five events. There were two athletes in the throwing events but the other athletes were all in different events. Versatility indeed.

8. Luis Garcia, Don Lugo football (6-5)
This one might surprise people but the Conquistadores weren’t on anyone’s radar. They haven’t been good – 3-7 in 2013 and I picked them last this year. Well they went 6-4 under a first-year coach and were third in the Mt. Baldy. Only a 9-7 loss to Chaffey kept them out of second. The Conquistadores turned in an admirable performance in the playoffs, losing to perennial title contender Monrovioa 26-20 in overtime. They also took the Milk Can from local rival Chino which had dominated them as of late.

7. Christine Howard, Colony girls basketball (22-9)
The Titans went all the way to the Division 2A CIF title game before falling to South Torrance 57-56. They were the co-champion in the Mt. Baldy League with Alta Loma, splitting regular season games with the Braves. Colony also got that far with a balanced offense, not relying heavily on any one player.

6. Tishanna Pope, Alta Loma volleyball (36-3)

The Braves had no competition in the Mt. Baldy League so the toughest task for Pope was trying to find a way to keep her team sharp and focused when they didn’t have an equal. Teams that lack competition in the regular season frequently crash and burn in the playoffs – not the Braves who won a CIF title and finished as state runner-up.

5. Jason Schmelzeisen, Chaffey boys  soccer (22-2-5)
The Tigers had a tough task at hand just in Mt. Baldy League play and they finished first, not securing that outright title until a 4-3 overtime win against Ontario the final game of the regular season. That win also came despite playing a man down. Chaffey got to the Division 3 title game before falling to Cathedral 2-0.

4. Randy Bohlmann, Damien volleyball (26-7)
The Spartans won the Division 5 CIF title this season, getting past the quarterfinal for the first time in school history. Bohlmann started the program five years ago so he was the one laying the foundation. Now he is reaping the benefits. The Spartans also did a masterful job of shutting down a marquee player in the CIF title match.

3. Dave Kleckner, Etiwanda boys basketball (24-9)

OK, he’s one that could be on the list every year. And maybe the Eagles didn’t win the Baseline League for the first time in more than a decade. But it was how his team bounced back after that. His team beat both Chino Hills and Damien the second time through league play. It made a run to a CIF final that included a win AT Mater Dei and one over Sierra Canton to whom it lost earlier in the season. The Eagles stayed in the elite Open Division in basketball, losing a SoCal regional semifinal to LA Fairfax.

2. Keith Richardson, Pomona football (11-4)
Richardson had to right the ship and keep his team focused amid numerous distractions, the most notable being the dismissal of the head coach right before the playoffs. Richardson, then the defensive coordinator, took over and did just that. He was officially rewarded with the head coaching position.

1. Matt Dunn, Damien boys basketball (29-5)

The Spartans move from one league into the Baseline, probably the most competitive in all the Southern Section. And they win nine of 10 league games, finishing ahead of Etiwanda and Chino Hills. They lost a second round Open Division CIF game to Orange Lutheran but capitalized on the second chance and won a state title in Division 3 in that portion of the playoffs. A lot of coaches have trouble getting a team up for the state playoffs after a CIF run. No problem here. Some said the Spartans would have been better off in Division 3, a probable easy winner, and not in the Open. Dunn said, “Bring it On.”

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Glendora’s Mike LeDuc to make return to Damien

Glendora head coach Michael LeDuc, left, is congratulated by former Ramona (Riverside) head coach Dough Stockham who was LeDuc's high school coach after defeating Upland 63-56 for his 800th win as a head coach during a prep basketball game at Upland High School

Damien didn’t exactly have to look long and hard to find a successor to Matt Dunn as head boys basketball coach. Athletic Director Jeff Grant has announced former Glendora coach Mike LeDuc is that man.

LeDuc has been at Glendora since 1986, but had served as head coach at Damien from 1979 to 1986. He has 826 career wins, 124 coming in his first tenure at Damien.

LeDuc is the fourth winningest coach in California, second a mong active basketball coaches. His teams have won 15 league titles and four Southern Section titles.

Dunn resigned earlier this month to accept the same position at St. John Boscoe. Dunn led the Spartans to a Baseline League title and the Division 3 state championship which helped land him statewide coach of the year honors as well as Inland Valley




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Two Baseline basketball coaches get state honor

The Baseline League proved its meddle this season as Damien won the league and went on to win the Division III state championship.

Chino Hills got to the Division I state final and Etiwanda likely could have but was in the Big Boy Division, also known as the Open and lost a SoCal Regional semifinal.

But coaches Dave Kleckner of Etiwanda and Matt Dunn of Damien have been recognized for their team’s showing.

CalHi Sports picks a statewide coach in each division and has chosen both Kleckner (Division I) and Dunn (Division III).

It’s pretty elite company to say the least and to think that the Inland Valley had two coaches honored is quite the compliment.

Dunn directed the Spartans to a 29-5 mark that included a first-place finish in the school’s first year in the more competitive Baseline. The season was capped off with the state championship win over Campolindo.

Kleckner’s Eagles went 24-9, finishing second to Damien in the league. But Etiwanda advanced to the Open Division final before falling to Bishop Montgomery. That run also included a semifinal win over Mater Dei at Mater Dei.

In the state portion of the playoffs Etiwanda remained in the Open division and ended up losing to another perennial power in LA Fairfax.

The overall state honor went to Chuck Rapp of San Mateo Serra. He was the Division II nominee. Other winners were Russell White of Crespi (Division IV) and John Maffucci of Carlsbad Army-Navy (Division V),


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Damien’s Jeremy Hemsley selected for All-Star game

Damien senior Jeremy Hemsley (left), who led the Spartans to the Division III state championship, has been selected to play in the BallisLife All-American game on May 2 at Long Beach City College.

The event starts at 5 p.m. and will also include a dunk contest which will begin at 3:15 p.m.

The game will also feature seven local Southern California products along with nine Pac-12 recruits.

Hemsley, who has signed with San Diego State, will be joined by a bunch of other top-notch players.

Other participants include USC recruits Benny Boatwright (Village Christian) and Chimezie Metu (Lawndale), Arizona-bound Chance Comanche (Beverly Hills), Oregon St.-bound Stevie Thompson Jr. (Bishop Montgomery) and Oregon-bound Tyler Dorsey (Maranatha).



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Chino Hills Lonzo Ball, Damien’s Jeremy Hemsley honored

Junior Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills and senior Jeremy Hemsley of Damien have led their respective teams to state tournament championship games. So not surprisingly they have earned special recognition.

Both are among the seven recipients named winners of the John R. Wooden Award for their division. Ball was the honoree in Division 1 while Hemsley is the honoree in Division 3.

They are in select company. Here is the list of those honored:

* Open – Lindsey Drew, Los Angeles Fairfax
* Division I – Lonzo Ball, Chino Hills
* Division II – Chimezie Metu, Lawndale
* Division III – Jeremy Hemsley, Damien
* Division IV – Stephen Thompson Jr., Bishop Montgomery
* Division V – Cody Riley, Sierra Canyon
* Division VI – Roderick Williams, Price

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