CIF Playoffs: Muir loses to Inglewood in final seconds, 48-45; Monrovia’s comeback falls short, 78-69


Foothill 78, Monrovia 69
Inglewood 48, Muir 45 (Scroll down for this game’s recap)

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

SANTA ANA – There was something eerily different about the Monrovia High School girls basketball team Saturday night.

Sure, there were some stretches when the Wildcats probably could have played better. But in between those 32 minutes, Monrovia also played long stretches where its sheer determination to fight was clearly evident.

And despite losing, 78-69, to Foothill in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-A playoffs, the Wildcats fought to the very end.

Trailing by 22 points with seven minutes left, Monrovia (18-7) mounted a comeback that was worthy enough to stop the home crowd from any early celebration.

Freshman standout Gina Henderson exploded for a game-high 38 points, and her 3-pointer with 1:40 left cut Foothill’s (28-1) lead down to nine, 74-65. The Wildcats got as close to within seven, 74-67, with 1:03 left, but the Knights showed why they earned the top-seed and now head to next week’s CIF championship game at the Honda Center.

Foothill continually exploited the lack of inside presence with easy give-and-go’s and numerous putbacks. USC-bound Christina Marinacci scored 33 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Knights. With 13.1 seconds left, Maryum Jenkins fouled Marinacci who had to come out with a bloody nose.

After the game, Jenkins walked over to Marinacci – still holding the bloody-soaked towel on her nose – to make sure she was OK and patted her on the back.

This was Monrovia’s first semifinals appearance in well over 20 years. The seniors on the team last made the quarterfinals three years ago.
Continue reading “CIF Playoffs: Muir loses to Inglewood in final seconds, 48-45; Monrovia’s comeback falls short, 78-69” »

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Melendez: Some of these searches go on forever


It seems everywhere I go on assignment these days there’s a handful who ask the same question:

Any word on who will coach at “fill in the blank”?

Today marks the end of February and, after almost three months, there still is no official word on who will be head football coach at Pasadena, Temple City, La Caada and Duarte high schools.

The domino effect began last December when Kevin Mills resigned as coach of the Bulldogs.

Then came Randy Backus’ firing at Temple City in January, followed by Rich Wheeler’s announcement he was retiring at La Caada and finally Wardel Crutchfield’s firing at Duarte.

Of the four schools, La Caada has made the most progress. That’s saying something since the Spartans were one of the last schools to announce the hiring search.
“We didn’t want to wait long,” La Caada athletic director Tamar Hill said.

The Spartans didn’t.

Hill said they’re waiting for board approval and it could be announced within the next month.

“I think this person will be excellent for our program,” Hill added.

Believe you me, I tried prying the name but to no avail. My pledge to you, the reader, is to have that name come next week’s column or sooner.
Duarte has made considerable progress, too.

“It’s pretty much in play and we’re just tying some loose strings,” Duarte athletic director Robyn Garcia said. “I just have to wait for certain answers from the district.”

Garcia said there is no timetable to announce the hiring, but she did say she was attending a conference next week and she’d like to have everything in place before she leaves for the trip.

“We want to move forward but it’s out of my personal control,” she said.

Garcia would not divulge information when asked if former La Puente coach Ray Hernandez and former Blair and Marshall coach Tip Sanders were finalists for the job.

It’s more than what Pasadena and Temple City high schools can say.
It’s been two months, and both schools still are sorting through resumes.

Temple City athletic director John Van De Veere said the school will close the application process today and at least 14 candidates have applied.

“We will begin paper screening Monday, and hopefully within a week after that we will have interviews and go from there,” Van De Veere said. “That’s all I can really tell you.”
Pasadena athletic director Tony Brooks initially said the school wanted to have someone in place by February. After all, spring ball is not that far away.

But the school has made little progress.

“We are in the middle of it, put it that way,” Brooks said. “We are still going through resumes and narrowing names down and we’ll come up with a name I’m sure shortly, but we’re still in the process right now.”

Brooks would not give a number of applicants.

“When the hiring panel or committee comes to an answer and we get a name everyone has settled on, I’ll definitely let you know,” Brook said.

I’m holding you to it, Tony.


“Too often we see stories of high school football players in trouble with the law. What is often missed are the many players who work hard on the field and in the classroom to become good citizens.”

Those are the opening remarks to an e-mail sent to me by the Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

Twenty six area players will be honored at Monday’s scholar athlete banquet at Brookside Country Club.

Area honorees include Alhambra’s Daniel Imaa; Flintridge Prep’s Alec Storrie Lombardi; La Caada’s David Goldstein and Michael Weston; Muir’s Tramel Clipper and Tyree Mills and St. Francis’ Kevin Mitchell.

The next Mia Hamm?

That I’m not certain about, but what I am certain is Samantha Whitehead’s star potential.

Don’t be fooled by her seemingly fragile frame.

She’s a sophomore midfielder for the La Salle High School girls soccer team. It lost Thursday in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs, but Whitehead sported a smile even after a painful loss in which the Lancers held a 2-0 lead at the half.

She’s extremely fast and despite her small frame she’s as physical as they come.

She’s also diabetic.

In one hand she carries her soccer bag. And in the other she carries her insulin pump.

Even though she makes some of us look like chumps on the pitch, I’m excited to see her maximize her potential over the next two years.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485

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CIF Boys Soccer: St. Francis, Rosemead headed to the semifinals; Season ends for La Caada and Monrovia

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

LA CAADA — Well after the match ended, there was little anyone could say or do to console a fatigued Brian Blumenfeld.

After all, it was his keen eye that created numerous scoring opportunities for the La Caada High School boys soccer team.

For a split second, keeper Jack Hale braced an arm over his shoulder before choosing instead to walk alone.

In a match where they experienced a roller coaster of emotions, the Spartans certainly didn’t expect to find themselves in the lower tier of that ride, especially after their frantic effort in the waning minutes.

What felt like the beginning of something special came to an abrupt ending for La Caada on Thursday afternoon.

Baldwin Park held off the Spartans just long enough to win, 5-3, on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs.

There was a little bit of everything in this match, highlighted by picturesque goals and creative counter attacks by a Spartans (18-7-3) team that matched the Braves’ (24-1) dominance in stretches at a time.

Finding themselves trailing 1-0 in the 16th minute off a Andrew Gonzalez goal, the Spartans scored the equalizer in dramatic fashion.

It had only started, but La Caada began executing its passing game. That’s when Matt McKenzie flew in from the top of the goalie’s box to score off a header in the 28th minute.

But there were some defensive lapses for the Spartans. None was more painful than Baldwin Park’s second goal in the 34th minute.

Off a throw-in from the left wing, Alberto Orozco scored from 17 yards out to make it 2-1. More upsetting was that the ball bounced at least four times before Orozco converted.
Continue reading “CIF Boys Soccer: St. Francis, Rosemead headed to the semifinals; Season ends for La Caada and Monrovia” »

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……………Goodbye, Rocky Mountain News………………

News that the Rocky Mountain News will publish its last edition today after almost 150 years of service to Denver was received with sadness across the country in every newsroom. The newspaper industry is going through tumultuous times, no doubt. Can you imagine if there was no more Star-News? I’ve been a journalist for eight years. I love my job and I can’t imagine what it would be like to one day wake up and find myself without my dream job. Everyday I’m ever more so thankful for doing what I love most, but I am sad for my colleagues at The Rocky who find themselves at a deep loss. May they all find solace soon.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Continue reading “……………Goodbye, Rocky Mountain News………………” »

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CIF Girls Soccer Playoffs: Alverno advances to semis; La Salle gives up 2-0 lead and loses in penalty kicks, 4-1; La Caada and Maranatha shutout, 2-0

Above: Samantha Whitehead’s tremendous speed was matched by Cathedral City’s team speed. The Lancers lost in penalties, 4-1. (Photo courtesy of John Blackstock)


Cathedral City 2, La Salle 2 (Cathedral City wins on PK’s, 4-1): Seemingly, nothing could go wrong for the La Salle High School girls soccer team in the first half. But then came the second half. Playing a little too relaxed and underestimating Cathedral City’s relentless effort proved to be costly for the Lancers. The Lions powered their way back from a two-goal deficit in the first half to tie the game in regulation and eventually winning, 4-1, on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs. The tide had seemingly turned shortly after Cathedral City (16-5-5) got to within 2-1 in the 55th minute. It had been quite some time before the Lions were consistently adding pressure in the final third and it was only a matter of time until Emily Boffa scored on a left-foot volley off a Maria Grbavac corner kick. And after Boffa’s goal there was a significant change in mood on the field. When the teams got back in formation to re-start play, the Lions looked much more loose and the Lancers (15-7-5) appeared tight. Cathedral City’s overall team speed eventually wore down La Salle, and that couldn’t have been more evident when Jessie LaFrance split two defenders and sent a shot past the keeper and into the far post to tie the game, 2-2, in the 71st minute.

South Torrance 2, Maranatha 0: When the final whistle blew, the Maranatha High School girls soccer team slowly limped off the field. For 80 minutes, the Minutemen sacrificed their bodies. Kimmie Sommers’ tears from immense lower back pain — and an even tougher loss to swallow — was proof of that. For 80 minutes, Maranatha ran in long stretches and showed glimpses of its ability to at times keep up with the much faster South Torrance team. Jessica Austin did her best to keep the large crowd in the game. They battled to the bitter end and when it was all over, the Minutemen were spent after leaving every ounce of energy on the field. Maranatha’s 2-0 loss in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs Thursday night was not indicative of how close the Minutemen came from limping away with smiles on their faces instead of tears. But the harsh reality was that the Aztecs (21-3-5) countered well and their team speed trumped that of Maranatha’s (16-7-5). There was little South Torrance couldn’t do. They not only ran past defenders but also matched every bit of intensity and physicalness Maranatha exhibited.

El Segundo 2, La Caada 0: The visiting Eagles (19-4-1) proved to be too athletic, scoring a goal in each half to beat the Spartans (16-5-2) in the Division V playoffs. La Caada played exceptional the first 15 minutes but it all ended when senior forward Caroline Na suffered a knee injury and had to be carted off the field. And with the Spartans’ catalyst no longer in the game, El Segundo gained momentum and limited La Caada’s scoring opportunities. “We were the best team for the first 15 minutes,” Spartans coach Louie Bilowitz said. “We played great soccer and had four great shots, two of which hit the cross bar. We lost control of the game with (Na’s) injury.”
Bilowitz, who has coached soccer for 25 years including the last six as the Spartans coach, said he was extremely proud of his girls since La Caada last season was ousted in the first round. “Nobody expected this team to get as far as they did,” he said. “This is the first team that doesn’t have two or three dominant players. With this team, the reason I love it so much, is because they share the ball. “They’re not looking for the star player. Everybody’s participating and there were no egos involved. It’s just been a wonderuful team to coach and I was very honored to have coached this team.”

Alverno 6, Saddleback Valley Christian 1: Senior Jessica Capra scored two second-half goals to lead the Alverno High School girls soccer team to a 6-1 win over Saddleback Valley Christian on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division VII playoffs. The second-seeded Jaguars (17-1-2) will play the CAMS-St. Paul winner in Tuesday’s semifinals, at a site to be determined. Capra scored in the 76th and 77th minute to give Alverno 4-1 and 5-1 leads.

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