Cross Country: Ammar Moussa leads Arcadia to school’s first CIF-SS Division I boys championship at Mt. SAC.

Above: Arcadia’s Ammar Moussa, right, led the heavy favorite Apaches at Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division I finals.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

WALNUT – There was no reason for the Arcadia High School boys cross country team to be nervous.

But the Apaches were. They went into Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1 race at Mt. San Antonio College undefeated and a heavy favorite to win their first CIF-SS title. Top runner Ammar Moussa was undefeated and the reigning division and state champion.

“I was a little nervous because there is so much on the line,” he said. “I’m a senior and this is the best team we’ve ever had.”

There was no reason for Moussa or the Apaches to worry. Moussa had the day’s fastest time, 15:15, on Mt. SAC’s rain course, one second faster than King’s Wesley Lane, who was second in his race.

Arcadia coach Jim O’Brien said a little nervousness was expected.

“There was normal nervousness and anticipation,” he said. “We’ve run enough big races, we knew what was expected. But nothing is definite.”

The Apaches placed five runners in the top 20 and took their first CIF-SS title with 43 points.

“We let our legs do the talking,” Moussa said. “We were really motivated. We tried to send a statement out there. We wanted to prove that we are the best team in the Southern Section.”

South Pasadena’s Sam Pons took his second consecutive Division 3 title in 15:50, the day’s ninth-fastest time.

“I felt the pace was unusually slow and there was a big line of people and I didn’t want them to hang on for long, so halfway from the turnaround point I started to make some distance on them,” Pons said. “I think there will be a little more pressure at state.”

Arcadia’s Catrina McAlister finished second in her Division 1 race and Bosco Tech and Flintridge Sacred Heart each finished on the podium.

Six teams and five individuals from the West San Gabriel Valley qualified for the state meet in Fresno.

Saturday’s meet was run on Mt. SAC’s rain course for the first time since 1995. Athletes ran a two-loop circuit and finished on the stadium track.

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Volleyball: Pasadena Poly’s rally falls short in CIF-SS Finals, loses to Chadwick for third time this season.


By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

CYPRESS – Pasadena Poly’s Michelle Miller couldn’t help but turn to her coach and smile over the final play of the match.

Her return hit the net and ended the match and gave Chadwick a 25-14, 25-15, 13-25, 25-19 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA girls volleyball championship match Saturday at Cypress College.

Miller said she smiled not only because the match was over but because it showed how much the team had grown this season.

Pasadena Poly (19-7) can take solace in Saturday’s appearance. This was a team not many expected to be in the final, since it started two freshmen and will return eight underclassmen.

There was a sense of optimism throughout the squad, largely in part because the players know what they’re capable of.

“I personally didn’t expect us to be here in the finals,” Miller said. “But now that we’re here and we have a young group, we feel not coming here next year will be a disappointment.”

Pasadena Poly also can take solace in the fact it ended Mayfield’s 36-game league winning streak earlier this season. Pasadena Poly also defeated Mayfield in the semifinals to advance.

Poly, however, was knocked out of state playoff contention because Firebaugh defeated San Gabriel Academy in the Division 5A final.

Saturday marked the fifth consecutive year in which a Prep League team has won a division title. Westridge won a championship before Mayfield won three consecutive.

Chadwick (27-0) won its first volleyball title since 1999 and the first for Dolphins coach Michael Cass, who guided his team to a league title and No. 1 seed.

Chadwick, which had beaten Pasadena Poly in two league meetings this year, strung together two 5-0 runs in the first set and ended it with Corinne Hemmersbach’s ace.

Pasadena Poly started the second set with an 8-1 lead, but Chadwick tied it 10-10 before reeling off a 6-0 run to take a 16-10 lead it did not relinquish. Chadwick again clinched the set on an ace, courtesy of Elizabeth Yates.

“We didn’t lose,” Pasadena Poly coach Steve Beerman said. “They won. We didn’t serve well until we got into game three.”

Pasadena Poly’s strength this season has been its serving, but the Panthers didn’t find their rhythm until the third set.

“It wasn’t just serving aces,” Beerman said. “It was also about just making it tough for them. We were serving right at them and weren’t making them move.”

Sophomore Cat Davidson showed exactly why the Panthers are dangerous. She had a key block to give Pasadena Poly a 17-11 lead and then reeled off seven consecutive aces to swell the Panthers’ lead to 24-11. Davidson’s eighth attempt hit the net, but she got an ovation from the Pasadena Poly student section for her performance.

“That’s the character of our team,” Beerman said. “We started playing a little better.”

“The great thing about playing teams you know is you know what to expect,” Cass said. “You know what they’re capable of doing. We went up 2-0, and that was great. We started playing well, but then they started doing that, too, and we had lost the first two sets in the semifinals, so we know what teams were capable of doing.”

Pasadena Poly made adjustments throughout the match that Cass quickly noticed.

“They took away our dump,” he said. “Our setter dumps so well through the middle that they’ve seen it now for two matches, so they camped a girl in the middle.

“We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel right there and then, so what we tried to do was just make it tough for them.”

The fourth set saw nine ties before Chadwick took control, courtesy of a 3-0 run sparked by a Yates service ace that gave the Dolphins a 17-14 lead. Pasadena Poly called a timeout.

“We had an awesome run,” Miller said. “It was fun to beat Mayfield and to have our crowd come to all our games. It was inspiring, and we hope to come back next year.”

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Volleyball: San Gabriel Academy’s dream season reaches CIF-SS Finals, awaits CIF State Playoff pairings.


By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

CYPRESS – It was like a dream.

That’s the best way to describe the season for San Gabriel Academy’s girls volleyball team, which in its 47-year history had never gone past the second round of the playoffs.

The third-seeded Eagles soaked in the experience and proudly hoisted the runner-up plaque after a 13-25, 17-25, 22-25 loss at the hands of Firebaugh of Lynwood in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A championship match Saturday night at Cypress College.

San Gabriel Academy’s dream season will continue, though, when the CIF state playoff pairings are announced today, a finals appearance virtually assuring the Eagles a berth in the Division 5 Southern California Regionals.

San Gabriel Academy has won the Westside League title three consecutive seasons and four of the past five, but the third-seeded Eagles (19-7) dreamed about a deep playoff run, and they finally got it.

Senior Ali Santanello, who finished with six kills and four blocks, said the experience of playing on the grandest stage was a dream come true.

“It’s a breathtaking experience,” Santanello said. “It’s an experience you almost can’t describe. We’re actually here and we made it.

“For a lot of us it was like a dream, and even after you pop it, you’re just honored to be here.”

San Gabriel Academy won its second-round and quarterfinal matches with ease, sweeping Riverside Christian and Coastal Christian, respectively, before a five-set grudge match against Pacific Lutheran.

The Eagles took pride in storming back from a two-set deficit against Pacific Lutheran before prevailing, and San Gabriel Academy found itself in a similar position against Firebaugh, the Harbor League champion that swept top seed Coast Union in the semifinals.

“These girls, even though we got swept, never gave up,” San Gabriel Academy coach Derek Duran said. “You look at the girls here and it feels like we won, and that’s because we have a great sense of accomplishment.”

The Falcons (20-0) dominated the first two sets but had to fend off a pesky Eagles team that led by as much as 15-9 in the third set before Firebaugh won 11 of the next 13 points to take a 20-17 lead, forcing San Gabriel Academy to call a timeout.

The Eagles truly played the role of David this season. San Gabriel Academy fielded an eight-member team from a school with an enrollment of only 209, compared to Firebaugh’s 1,500 students and 14-member team.

Firebaugh, for its part, made quite a remarkable run. This was the Falcons’ first-ever playoff appearance, and they won the title with second-year coach Javier Gonzalez. Firebaugh will also advance to the CIF state playoffs when the Division 3 Southern California Regional pairings are released today.

“Volleyball is not a big sport where we come from,” Gonzalez said. “Some of these girls never touched a volleyball until they reached high school. To get this far is beyond words.”

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Water Polo: Pasadena Poly falls short in CIF-SS Finals


By Andrew J. Campa, Staff Writer

IRVINE – There were some tears, disappointment and perhaps a little regret from the Pasadena Poly boys water polo team on Saturday.

However, there certainly was no shame as the Panthers’ impressive season ended in defeat at the hands of No. 2-seeded La Serna, 17-9, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship game at the William Woollett Jr. Center.

The Del Rio League champion Lancers (21-5) clinched the program’s first-ever title in 10 attempts.

In contrast, Prep League champion Poly (22-4) was making its inaugural trip to a title game.

“The first thing I told (the team) was nobody was expecting us to be here,” Poly coach Ryan Katsuyama said. “We started the season like seventh or eighth in the top 10 poll.

“Going into the playoffs, we were the fourth seed in the same side of the bracket as the No. 1 team. No one expected us to be here.”

The Panthers reached the title game with a remarkable defensive effort that limited top-seeded Crescenta Valley to two goals in a 6-2 victory in Wednesday’s semifinal.

On Saturday, Poly had few answers against a high-energy La Serna squad that increased its lead by three goals in every quarter until it led 15-6 after three periods.

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Friday Night Aftermath: Fregoso runs wild, scores 7 TDs in Rosemead’s 49-36 win; Muir shocks La Miarada; Monrovia, Maranatha advance; Arcadia, St. Francis ousted; Rio Hondo Prep, Pasadena Poly cruise in win.



Friday’s results

Rosemead 49, Temple City 36 — Matt Fregoso rushed for 365 yards and scored seven touchdowns to lead the Panthers. Temple City was within striking distance in the waning minutes. The Rams recovered an onside kick and got to within the Panthers 9 and trailing 42-36. But an interception in the end zone all but sealed the win for Rosemead, which travels to play Village Christian next week.

Muir 33, La Mirada 14 — Muir took advantage of three La Mirada turnovers and other miscues to pull off the upset over the No. 3 seed and defending Southern Division champion Matadores. Muir will play Bonita in the next round.

Maranatha 41, La Puente 28 — This was the Minutemen’s first Mid-Valley Division game, and boy did they have a strong showing. Quarterback Andrew Elffers passed for six touchdown passes, five of which came in the first half. He finished with 377 yards passing. Josh Jones had two touchdowns, but injured his left knee in the second quarter. It didn’t look good as he was carted off the field. Jeremy Major had two touchdown catches and made an interceptions. Maranatha travels to defending champion San Dimas next week. Ouch.

Norwalk 35, Arcadia 27 — Arcadia scored with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter. The Apaches went for a two-point conversion, but the attempt failed, leaving the score 35-27 Norwalk. Myles Carr passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor Lagace injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter with around five minutes left in the game. Norwalk’s double wing was hard to defend.

Monrovia 42, Gladstone 3 — Nick Bueno passed for three touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards and a score, all in the first half. There was a running clock in the second half. Monrovia has outscored its last seven opponents, 304-27. The second and third teams took over the second half. The Wildcats led 35-0 at the half. The Wildcats play at home vs. Schurr, which beat Baldwin Park.

Covina 42, La Canada 14 — The Colts scored five touchdowns in the first half to all but send the Spartans packing.

Pasadena Poly 56, Hamilton 18 — The Panthers had 506 yards of total offense, including 326 yards on the ground. Blake Edwards had three catches for 85 yards, one of which was a 65 yard touchdown reception. He rushed for two touchdowns. Pasadena Poly scored early and often, no drives going more than five plays. Hunter Merryman completed 5 of 8 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Jack Porter had two catches for 95 yards, both touchdowns from 66 and 29 yards. Poly’s defense recorded seven sacks, including four from Nathan Hamming. The Panthers will play at Desert Christian, which defeated Fairmont Prep, 50-6.

Rio Hondo Prep 51, California City 8 — Charles Quintero had 15 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown. He also returned a kickoff 50 yards. Nick Preciado had 15 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The Kares will travel to Boron, which defeated Saddleback Valley Christian, 50-7.

Dominguez 28, St. Francis 25 — The Golden Knights couldn’t convert on fourth down as St. Francis’ late rally fell short. Brett Nelson and Travis Talianko connected for three touchdown passes, but the one they couldn’t connect on was on fourth and 18 from the St. Francis 48 with less than two minutes left in the game.


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