BREAKING NEWS: Damien hires Greg Gano

I know Damien is not in our area but this is huge news for San Gabriel Valley football fans. Former Los Altos coach Greg Gano has been named the next Damien High School head coach, Freddy Robledo reports on his blog. Gano, who won four championships while with Los Altos, will be introduced at the school later today. Freddy will have more in tomorrow’s paper. Robledo reports: “I can tell you this, he’s already assembling an all-star staff, I’ll tell you more about the names when they become official. There will be some huge surprises.”

Hmmm … Interesting.

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McConnell: Tourney time not what it used to be

This story comes from longtime staffer Jim McConnell, the man we call, “The King” around the office. He writes a weekly Then & Now column. He gives us a bit of history today about high school basketball tournaments. It doesn’t involve our area teams but it was such a great read I had to post it. Enjoy.

JIM McCONNELL

MEMO TO: High school basketball coaches and athletic directors.

RE: Basketball tournaments.

MESSAGE: If you are thinking about starting a tournament, do not under any circumstances label it a classic. A 1957 Chevy Bel-Air coupe is a classic. Your puny little eight-team tourney – jury-rigged so that the home team will always be in the championship game – is not.

There’s no question today’s high school basketball players – boys and girls – are bigger, stronger, faster and can jump higher than those of 50 years ago. But, somehow, the local basketball tournaments have lost a lot of their luster. December just isn’t the same for hoop fans.

Back in the 1970s, the area was famous nationwide for the Tournament of Champions. That event, hosted by San Dimas High School, brought together the best teams in the state.

Tournament director Bob Espinoza did a great job of luring the top teams to San Dimas. True, the format meant that host school San Dimas was going to be routed, game after game and year after year. But, looking back, those Saints players can now tell their kids they played against the likes of Bill Cartwright, Bill Laimbeer, John Williams, etc. Who remembers scores?

San Dimas ceased hosting the Tournament of Champions in the 1980s. The T of C is still around, now based in Orange County, but it is no longer the premier showcase of prep talent it once was.

In this area, the granddaddy of basketball tournaments emains the Covina Christmas Tournament. The tourney will mark its 55th year when play gets under way on Dec. 26.
Continue reading

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Football: Final Top 10 Poll (Playoffs included)

1. ROSEMEAD (11-3) — The Panthers made an improbable run to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game and beat two notable teams (San Dimas, Monrovia) to get there.

2. TEMPLE CITY (7-5-1) — Under the direction of interim coach Tim Loya, the Rams played superb football the final weeks in the season before running into a pesky Paraclete team in the semifinals of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

3. MONROVIA (10-3) — I wonder, what would happen if Temple City and Monrovia would meet again? The outcome might be the same or it very well could be different. Still, the Wildcats definitely raised the bar for next season and I know Steve Garrison was impressed with Monrovia’s run.

4. RIO HONDO PREP (10-3) — The Kares won their 12th CIF-Southern Section Division championship last week. That’s only second to Long Beach Poly’s 18 CIF titles. The Kares were on the brink of playing in the CIF State Small Division Bowl championship game. What an amazing season.

5. DUARTE (6-6) — One must wonder how much better the Falcons would have been if Jordan Canada would have been healthy all season long. They could have had the No. 1 seed from the Montview League and they probably don’t run into Monrovia in the quarterfinals.

6. MUIR (9-2) — The Mustangs are still a good team despite another first-round ouster. Jarron Williams back next season will be fun to watch. He could be better than Reuben Thomas at next season’s end.

7. MARANATHA (11-2) — The Minutemen rebounded well after losing to Brentwood in the Alpha League finale and made a run to the semifinals of the CIF-SS East Valley Division playoffs.

8. SAN GABRIEL (5-6) — In hindsight, the Matadors should have gone further in the playoffs and fared better in Almont League play. I’m expecting big things from the Matadors with QB Isaac Valdez directing the offense next season.

9. SAN MARINO (8-3) — Things will be tough next season with Scott Dooley and Steven Wright gone next season. Steven Yortsos will anchor the defense. But as far as this past season goes, the Titans put on a great show in the regular-season. They reignited and mesmerized an entire community.

10. NOBODY – There was not another team that could argue its way into the No. 10 spot. Can you really think of one?

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Coaching update: Pasadena sorting through resumes

Just got off the phone with Pasadena High athletic director Tony Brooks. After talking about basketball we dove into the football coaching vacancy. I tried to get names but no dice.

Brooks on how far along Pasadena is in the hiring process:

“We’re looking to get the interview process in January. We’ve opened it up and people are turning in resumes. We’re getting a lot of interest including from people back East. What we’ll do is put a committee together which will consist of administrators, teachers, coaches and a returning player and maybe a parent.”

Brooks on when Pasadena will make the hire:

“We want to get something done by February because that’s the start of the second semester. You don’t want to wait too long.”

Brooks on whether the vacancy will come with a teaching position:

“Right now, hopefully it will. That’ll attract more interest but that has to be solidified through the principal to try to fit that. It’s always nice to have the person on campus in some capacity.”

Brooks on who has applied (Brooks was asked for specific names but no luck):

“A few locals, but when we get down a little more serious – this is just collection process – and when we get down to some serious applicants and finalists I’ll be happy to divulge.”

In the words of Kevin Mills, stay tuned.

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Boys Basketball: Alhambra Tournament

Alhambra Tournament
Pool A: Bonita, Warren, Santa Fe
Pool B: San Gabriel, Crescenta Valley, Northview
Pool C: Montclair, Hoover, Franklin
Pool D: Alhambra, Gabrielino, Duarte

Tuesday’s Games
San Gabriel vs. Crescenta Valley, 3 p.m.
Montclair vs. Franklin, 4:30 p.m.
Bonita vs. Santa Fe, 6:15 p.m.
Alhambra vs. Duarte, 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday’s Games
Duarte vs. Gabrielino, 3 p.m.
Northview vs. San Gabriel, 4:30 p.m.
Santa Fe vs. Warren, 6:15 p.m.
Franklin vs. Hoover, 7:45 p.m.

Thursday’s Games
Hoover vs. Montclair, 3 p.m.
Warren vs. Bonita, 4:30 p.m.
Crescenta Valley vs. Northview, 6:15 p.m.
Alhambra vs. Gabrielino, 7:45 p.m.

Friday’s Games (South Gym)
(Game 3) A2 vs. B2, 3 p.m.
(Game 4) D2 vs. C2, 4:30 p.m.
(Game 5) A1 vs. B, 6:15 p.m.
(Game 6) D1 vs. C1, 7:45 p.m.
(North Gym)
(Game 1) A3 vs. B 3, 3 p.m.
(Game 2) D3 vs. C3, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Games
11th place – Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game , 10:30 a.m.
9th place – Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 1, Noon
7th place – Loser Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 1:30 p.m.
5th place – Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 3, 3:15 p.m.
3rd place – Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 5, 4:45 p.m.
Championship – Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 5, 6:30 p.m.

Here’s a call for all AD’s and coaches to fax or e-mail tournament brackets in the area. E-mail to miguel.melendez@sgvn.com or 626.432.5248. The La Salle Tournament starts next week but you can send brackets now and post other marquee tournaments in the area here in the comment section.

In girls basketball, I need brackets for the Arroyo Tournament (Dec. 15-22); Magnolia Tournament (Dec. 13-20); Ayala Tournament (Dec. 26-30); La Canada Tournament (Dec. 26-30); and the Burroughs Tournament (15-19). Gracias.

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………….Star-Jibber………….

Rio Hondo Prep claimed its 12th CIF-Southern Section championship. Is Coach Ken Drain among the best in the San Gabriel Valley? Better believe it.

….

Did Rosemead really have to play way out in the boonies?

….

Trust me, folks, it was cold. You know it’s cold when Paraclete folks bring their personal heaters into the stands with them and you know it’s cold when the hottest item in the snack bar is hand warmers

….

So what happened to Rosemead? Missed tackles, dropped open passes, couldn’t capitalize on long drives and Paraclete’s defense is that good

At least four Paraclete fans discussed Rosemead QB Angel Alejandre during halftime. One of them said, ‘Their QB is a lot better than advertised’ ‘He’s just finding them wide open’

….

When Paraclete fans started singing, ‘Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye’ some parents and the clock operator got upset and asked them to stop

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Final: Paraclete 21, Rosemead 10

Okay, lets do it again. I’ll provide live blogging of tonight’s Mid-Valley Division championship between Rosemead and Paraclete at Knight High School in Palmdale. It could start raining, snowing, and the wind will be blowing like crazy, so enjoy your warm little house and let us bring it to you. I’ll update the boxscore as it unfolds, and offer my thoughts in the comment section during the game.

Mid-Valley Division championship
Rosemead 7 3 0 0 — 10
Paraclete 7 7 0 0 — 21
Scoring Summary
First quarter
PA – Dante Donato 8 run (kick good), 7-0, 7:29
RO – Gilbert De La Rosa 15 fumble return (kick good), 7-7, 4:07
Second quarter
PA – Matt Cordova 22 pass from Robbie Thompson, (kick good), , 14-7 5:15
RO – Bobby Maldonado 33 yard field goal, 14-10, :05
Third quarter
No scoring
Fourth quarter
PA – Brandon Buteyn 90 punt return (kick good), 21-10, 7:42

The game starts at 7 p.m. at Knight High in Palmdale. Does anyone know if there’s a press box at Knight High? I hear the school’s relatively new. Also, there are no nearby locker rooms for either teams, so halftime will get chilly guys. I’m all bundled up and ready to go. Another day, another dollar. Good luck to Rio Hondo Prep. They take on Riverside Christian in the CIF-SS Northeast Division championship game. Our very own Andrew J. Campa will report from Arcadia tonight and bring you the action in Sunday’s paper.

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………Robledo dreading Palmdale tomorrow night………

As you know, Freddy and I will be making the drive to Palmdale tomorrow afternoon for the Rosemead-Paraclete CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game. We plan to leave Pasadena around 3:30 p.m. We’ll have dinner somewhere up there, most likely Coaches in Lancaster but that’s still up for debate. I’m prepared for the cold but looks like Freddy is freakin out!

From Robledo’s blog:

Rosemead-Paraclete on deck: Rosemead, where you taking me? This is the weather forecast in Palmdale for tomorrow night’s game.
Windy. Partly cloudy. A slight chance of showers…occasionally mixing with snow in the foothills late. Lows around 30. West winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Chance of precipitation 20 percent. Help!

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………….Biggest surprise this season………….

Geez, only three comments in the “Biggest disappointment this season” thread. Not sure if you guys have lost interest in my flavor or just haven’t had time to tune in on the thread. To be honest, I have not been on top of the blog as much as I would have liked as we near the end of the football playoffs. Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself since I have tried to crank out three stories every day, plus the blog and putting together All-Area for football and girls tennis. Nevertheless, I have found this season to be very exciting and now that the first football season is under my belt I know I’ll be more in tune and better prepared next season. The first season’s always tough, right? Well, not so. Look at the amazing things Ryan Maddox was able to get done at Monrovia. A Rio Hondo League championship and an impressive run to the semifinals. It took a while for Marquise Williams, Nick Bueno, DJ Cole, Kendal Boggs and the rest of the crew to get the Wing-T down but they did and in the process raised the bar for next season. What about Temple City? The Rams also got to the semifinals despite chaos behind the scenes. Who would have known Temple City had two outstanding running backs in senior Joey Stewart and junior Max Rucklke. I’ll tell ya, he’ll be fun to watch next season. And the Rams return a star-studded line who are only juniors this season. Josh Ouellette is the lone senior. And if he’s as good a writer as he is blocking I might be in danger of losing my job in a few years. Rio Hondo Prep has been a bit of a surprise, too. To think the team that started 2-3 heading into the Prep League is a win a way from playing in the CIF State Small Division championship, provided that St. Margaret’s and Francis Parker both lose in Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section and CIF-San Diego division championship games. What a season.

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…….Let’s have one for the kicker…….

It’s not until the last second with the game tied when you realize how much the kicker means to the team.

Through the upright, he’s the hero.

Misses wide, hangs his head low in disappointment.

Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler has always emphasized the importance of special teams which makes the kicker an essential part of the group, too.

Senior Bobby Maldonado, a soccer-turned-football player, has done quite alright for himself.

He has been the kicker for the Panthers varsity team since making the team his freshman season, which will culminate Saturday night at 7 when Rosemead plays Paraclete at Knight High in Palmdale for the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game.

In each of his seasons, Maldonado has tallied at least 50 points and this season he’s amassed 80 points. Along the way he’s had the fortune of winning games when the

Panthers relied on his right foot. More often than not he’s come through.

“He’s just a stud,” Koffler said. “He’s one of those guys that although he’s a kicker he shows up every day.

“He’s very accurate at what he does and we’re huge on special teams and we need to have a good kicker; he’s one of them.”

The playoffs haven’t been too kind for Maldonado.

He missed two PAT’s against San Dimas two weeks ago and he missed a 52 and 35-yard field goals last week against Monrovia in the semifinals.

But much of it is attributed to a San Dimas lineman rolling on his kicking foot, which swelled up leading up to the Monrovia game. His foot is fine now and despite the injury and the few misses in the playoffs, Maldonado keeps his confidence high. He knows he has the support of Koffler and his teammates.

“We think he’s one of the best, if not the best, kicker around,” Koffler acknowledged. “He’s a very special punter and very special place-kicker.

“Most of his kickoffs head to the end zone and most people don’t realize what he does.”

The Panthers will rely on Maldonado’s leg to sail the ball into the end zone on kickoffs and punts in an attempt to prevent long run backs on special teams.

“We want to control the field some how and how we control the field is make sure you’re excellent in the kicking game,” Koffler said. “If we can make teams go the long distance, 80 or 70 yards, then we want them to do that instead of 40 or 50-yard drives; that’s why we concentrate the kicking game so much.”

PAYING TRIBUTE

When long-time Rosemead wrestling coach Louie Madrigal passed away about eight months ago, and former head coach Jim Zant died from a car accident six months ago, Koffler wanted to honor them in one way.

Madrigal coached wrestling at Rosemead for 30 years and Zant coached the Panthers to the 1982 CIF championship.

You’ll notice a green “JZ” and a black “LM” on the back of the Panthers’ helmets, Koffler’s way of honoring the fallen heroes. Why green for Zant?
He was a huge Notre Dame fan.

Oh, he was Irish, too.

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