GHoops: Pasadena Poly claws way to championship.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE DIVISION 5A TITLE GAME

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

SANTA ANA — The sight of a lone girls basketball championship banner hanging on the wall from 19 years ago served as a constant reminder of what this season was about for Pasadena Poly.

Mission accomplished.

The top-seeded Panthers made an emphatic statement for the third time this season against their Prep League foe, beating Chadwick 55-42 for the CIF-Southern Section Division 5A championship Saturday afternoon at Mater Dei High.

Pasadena Poly (26-2) now awaits the announcement today of the CIF State playoff brackets. For now, the Panthers can go forward with making room for a new banner.

“It’s real special because their names will be up there forever,” Pasadena Poly coach Kim Weber said. “We talked about that over the last couple months, that here’s a chance to leave your name on your school’s wall for everybody else to see.”

There was no question who was leading them to the promised land.

Michelle Miller carried the Panthers on her back all season, avenging their semifinal ouster last season. She scored 24 of her game-high 32 points in the second half, but she had some considerable help along the way.

Courtney Foster, who finished with 11 points while commanding the point, played with such poise and composure that it’s hard to imagine she’s only a sophomore.

“Well, I’m glad it seems that way,” Foster said. “I really try not to let anything get to me. Though there’s a big crowd I knew it was our game. I couldn’t let anything get to me.”

“She’s a spitfire,” Weber said of Foster. “I saw greatness in her last year as a freshman point guard for us. She continues to grow with every game, big or small.”

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Girls Soccer: Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy beats San Clemente 1-0 to win CIF-SS Division 1 Championship on Krista Meaglia goal off Jacobs, Johnson assist.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

MISSION VIEJO – A shutout appeared in sight for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls soccer team.

The only problem was the No. 3-seeded Tologs were about to become part of the statistic.

Enter Krista Meaglia.

In the 68th minute, the sophomore midfielder saw the key play develop from midfield as Jillian Jacobs sent an outlet pass to Katie Johnson. She slipped a pass past two defenders to an open Meaglia, who sent a soft shot past San Clemente goalkeeper Olivia Engelsman into the left post, giving Flintridge Sacred Heart a 1-0 win to claim its first CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship Friday night at Mission Viejo High.

It was the proverbial tale of two halves for the Tologs (21-1-1), the 2010 Southern California Division III regional champions, who now await this year’s regional playoffs. Pairings will be announced Sunday.

Flintridge Sacred Heart co-head coach Frank Pace said the three-hour bus ride, coupled with an injury to Kayla Mills, who injured her quad during warmups, led to an uneventful first half. The Tologs had no shots on goal.

“It really took us a while to adjust to the speed of play without Kayla,” Pace said. “We’ve been trying combinations all year, and we didn’t settle on combinations until eight games ago and finally found a combination that worked for us.”

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Softball Preview: Great expectations for La Caada

STAR-NEWS PRESEASON TOP 10 RANKINGS

1. La Caada
2. San Marino
3. Mayfield
4. La Salle
5. San Gabriel Mission
6. Keppel
7. Temple City
8. Monrovia
9. Marshall
10. Maranatha

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

KC Mathews couldn’t help but gush after going down his roster, having nothing but great things to say about each of his players.

That much was expected from the La Caada High School softball coach who points to team speed, defense, hitting and strong work ethic for reasons the Spartans’ season looks pretty bright.

It’s also the reason why La Caada (25-5 last year) is the No. 1 team in the Star-News’ preseason top-10 rankings.

The defending Rio Hondo League champions look to build on last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 5 semifinal run. That the Spartans boast arguably the best 1-2 combo in pitchers Lauren O’Leary (19-4, 165 strikeouts, 0.61 ERA last season) and Lauren Cox (5-1, 161 strikeouts, 0.55 ERA) are reason enough to make the Spartans the favorite, and Division 5 coaches think as much, voting La Canada the No. 1 team in the CIF-SS preseason top-10 poll.

Then there’s Anna Edwards, arguably the most dangerous power hitter in the San Gabriel Valley. The Northwestern-bound standout received Rio Hondo League co-MVP and first-team All-CIF honors after batting .580 with 35 RBIs, nine home runs, nine doubles, two triples and 15 stolen bases.

Junior Catherine Horner is a defensive specialist at catcher. She batted .365 with 17 RBIs and 12 doubles as a sophomore.

The list goes on and on.

Senior Shirley Drange is a returning outfielder that will be counted on for her senior leadership. Kayla McCue, a slap hitter, has a knack for getting on base. Senior Megan Siepler is back at full strength after being limited most of last season because of injury. Kelsey Drange, a sophomore, will continue providing consistency at the plate in the No. 2 hole.

“I gotta tell you,” Mathews said, “I’m pretty happy with the way we’re playing. I can go on and on down this list.”

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High school player dies after hitting game-winning shot


Above: Teammates hoist Wes Leonard up after he hit the game-winning basket Thursday as the Fennville (Mich.) Blackhawks celebrate their victory against the Bridgman Bees, bringing their record to 20-0. Leonard collapsed on the court shortly afterward and died hours later at Holland Hospital. (AP Photo/Dennis R.J. Geppert – The Holland Sentinel)

I was up late watching SportsCenter when I saw this sad news come out of Fennville, Michigan. It definitely puts things in perspective.

The Associated Press

FENNVILLE, Mich. — A western Michigan high school basketball player collapsed on the court and later died after making the game-winning shot to cap his team’s perfect season.

Holland Hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson says 16-year-old Fennville High School basketball player Wes Leonard died Thursday night. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Patterson says paramedics performed CPR on Leonard before he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Holland Sentinel reported that Leonard had scored the game-winning layup in a 57-55 win over Bridgman in overtime to cap Fennville’s 20-0 season. Leonard fell to the ground after teammates and fans rushed the court.

The newspaper says Leonard was also a quarterback on the high school football team.

Fennville is about 200 miles west of Detroit.

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Boys Basketball: La Caada holds off frantic effort, pulls off the huge upset and takes down powerhouse L.A. Price 50-47 to win CIF-SS Division 3AA Championship.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE CIF-SS DIVISION 3AA FINAL

ANOTHER VIEW

Priceless upset for La Canada in Div. III-AA championship (Los Angeles Daily News)

La Caada wins Southern Section Division 3AA title (Los Angeles Times)

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

ANAHEIM – La Caada High School’s Matt Faber stood watch under the basket as Price’s Askia Booker released the ball from behind the 3-point line with 11 seconds left in the game.

The ball never hit the rim, instead landing in Faber’s hands. He quarterbacked an end-of-the-court pass to Dario CiVon, who dribbled to the basket, turned and waited for the final seconds to tick off the clock.

What seemingly felt like motion-still seconds finally became a reality when CiVon launched the ball high into the air as the buzzer sounded, as the Spartans grabbed a 50-47 upset win over top-seeded Price of Los Angeles in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA championship game Thursday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“That moment was just like a dream,” said Faber, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. “I didn’t believe we won until I saw the seconds tick off. I saw Dario and chucked it. When (the clock) went off, I just went crazy.”

CiVon said his mind went back to last year’s NBA Finals watching Kobe Bryant celebrate his fifth title.

“I was looking at the clock and it felt (like) slow motion,” he said. “It was a surreal moment to be that open, nobody around, the game about to end.”

La Caada’s long-distance assault in the first quarter fueled its confidence, as the Spartans (28-3) knocked down five 3-pointers to race to a 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

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Girls Basketball: Mesa Grande defeats Rio Hondo Prep 48-44 to win CIF-SS Division 6AA Championship.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE CIF-SS DIVISION 6AA FINAL

ANOTHER VIEW

Mesa Grande girls make history (Riverside Press-Enterprise)

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

ANAHEIM – It appeared to be within reach for the Rio Hondo Prep girls basketball team. The Kares took a four- point lead at the half, but then came the third quarter. That’s when it all came apart.

Top seed Mesa Grande Academy switched to a matchup zone defense in the third quarter to cause confusion, and it worked, limiting Rio Hondo Prep to three points and helping the Cardinals oust the Kares 48-44 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6AA final Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Mesa Grande Academy (26-2) opened the third with a 6-0 run to retake the lead 22-20 before extending it to 26-21 on a Jennifer Dupper steal and layup with 4:59 left in the quarter.

Rio Hondo Prep (21-6) didn’t score in the third until Jayleen Wong converted 1 of 2 free throws, and the second- seeded Kares scored their lone field goal of the quarter on a Kayley Martin 8-foot jumper with 27.9 seconds left. Rio Hondo Prep, which led 20-16 at halftime, went on to miss five free throws and committed 17 turnovers in its first finals appearance since winning the small-schools division in 1990.

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BREAKING NEWS: South Pasadena hires Martin Konrad as next football coach, currently co-defensive coordinator at College of the Canyons.

South Pasadena has hired Martin Konrad as its next head football coach. Principal Janet Anderson in a statement said: “We are confident that Coach Konrad is the right person to rally players, parents, and fans in support of a coordinated and cohesive program.”

Ed Smith spent 30 seasons with the Tigers and compiled a 65-96-4 record in 15 seasons as head coach before tendering his resignation in December.

Konrad currently is co-defensive coordinator at College of the Canyons. He also was the defensive coordinator at West Ranch High in Stevenson Ranch from 2005-2007. He twice led Flintridge Prep to the CIF-SS quarterfinals and the divisional championship in 2003. He was honored as the Prep League’s coach of the year in 2001 and CIF coach of the year in 2003. Konrad is knowledgeable with CIF and its rules, as he served on the CIF Coaches Advisory Committee from 2001 to 2005.

Konrad played for the University of the Pacific from 1992 too 1996 as a linebacker and was named first team All-Big West in 1995.

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2011 Baseball Preview: Monrovia primed for success

PRESEASON STAR-NEWS TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. Monrovia
2. Arcadia
3. Pasadena Poly
4. La Salle
5. Temple City
6. Alhambra
7. Maranatha
8. Pasadena
9. South Pasadena
10. San Marino

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

All is well for the Monrovia High School baseball team.

Sure, there was a big senior class that graduated, leaving some big shoes to fill, but with a lineup that includes Nick Bueno, all is well.

Bueno, a senior shortstop who earned co-MVP honors in the Rio Hondo League, is the centerpiece to a Wildcats team that features two other returning starters in senior third baseman Jairo Jiorge and senior catcher Adrian Velasco, both of whom earned first-team all-league honors last season after leading Monrovia to its fifth straight league title and a quarterfinal appearance in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.

Bueno last season batted .440 with 12 RBIs and stole 24 bases on 26 attempts, and also earned first-team All-CIF honors.

It’s that kind of senior leadership at key defensive positions that makes Monrovia (22-4 last season) the No. 1 team in the Star-News preseason top- 10 rankings.

“We’re in a good position because we have what I feel to be three of the best players in the area,” said Monrovia co-head coach Brad Blackmore, who’s entering his 21st season with the program.

“We’ve been fortunate that a lot of our juniors have grown up and gotten a lot better. We had a freshman on the team last year and have some really good transfers who I think can help.”

William Mercado, a senior second baseman, and sophomore Joe Mata, a transfer from Colorado, are the top newcomers who could see immediate playing time. Mata is a left-handed pitcher who adds depth in the Wildcats’ rotation.

Tony and Kevin Shue are transfers from Arcadia. Tony is the hitter, and Kevin will start on the mound.

Sophomore Chris Burkholder will start at No. 1 on the mound. He made 11 appearances last season, earning two victories with 19 strikeouts and a 1.75 ERA.

Junior Carl Daniels, a 6-foot-4 starting right fielder, will see some time on the mound as well.

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Boys Basketball: McGlashan ready for anything, will lead La Caada vs. Price in Division 3AA Final at 4:45 today.

I will be at The Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center covering our two championship basketball games. Tipoff for the Division 3AA final is 4:45 p.m. and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on a quarter-by-quarter basis. I’ll update this blog with stories and photo galleries later in the evening, probably once I beat traffic and get home.

CIF-SS PLAYOFFS
CHAMPIONSHIP
DIVISION 3AA
THE ARENA, ANAHEIM CONVENTION CENTER
La Caada vs. L.A. Price, 4:45 p.m.

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer

Last Friday night, the La Caada High School boys basketball team got something it’s rarely needed all season – a clutch shot with the game on the line.

To nobody’s surprise, Michael McGlashan was the one who delivered it.

The Spartans haven’t been in too many close games this season, but that’s the position they were in during their CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA semifinal showdown at Palm Springs last week.

Down one with less than 10 seconds to play in overtime, the instructions from Spartans coach Tom Hofman to McGlashan were simple.

“Coach just said, ‘If you get a good look, take it, and if you don’t, just dish it to whoever’s open,’ ” McGlashan said.

McGlashan got a good look, in the key, and hit the jumper that gave La Caada a 61-60 win and punched the Spartans’ ticket to today’s final, in which it’ll play Price at Anaheim Convention Center. Tipoff is at 4:45 p.m.

“It was amazing to know that I helped out in whatever way,” McGlashan said.

“I had just missed a free throw (moments earlier), so to come back and hit a shot like that was huge.”

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Girls Soccer: Flintridge Sacred Heart advances to first CIF-SS finals with 1-0 win over Esperanza in OT; Marshall falls to Animo Leadership, 2-1.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM TUESDAY’S ANIMO-MARSHALL MATCH

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

PASADENA – The boisterous ovation Tuesday was in appreciation of a Marshall Fundamental girls soccer team that went from irrelevant to powerhouse in about three years.

The host Eagles were enjoying their deepest playoff run ever, for the first time in school history appearing in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoffs. It ended there, though, with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Animo Leadership of Lynwood.

Marshall (14-6-1) fell victim to jitters, and it was evident almost immediately.

Animo Leadership’s (12-3-1) Vanessa Villacorta connected on a free kick in the second minute of play to give the Aztec Eagles the early lead.

“We knocked out the No. 1 seed, and in our last game, I thought, we played one of our toughest games,” Marshall co-head coach Jumal Karume said.

“We just started off slow here. It was the first time we’re here and we were a little nervous. Even though we were able to get it back, we were never able to get the energy to get back into it.”

Marshall sophomore forward Isabel Robles raced up the middle and sped past her defender for a one-on-one against Animo keeper Elizabeth De Dloz. Robles, a sophomore forward, went into the box and sent a soft, right-footed shot to the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 in the 56th minute. It was her 21st goal of the season.

The jubilation from a throng of Marshall fans, however, didn’t last long. Animo’s Genesis Tamayo sent a well-placed free kick from 43 yards out to the corner of the net to regain the lead for the Aztec Eagles.

Marshall’s frantic effort was evident, as the Eagles sent in numerous shots in the final 15 minutes, but to no avail.

“It was a great free kick,” said Karume, who shares coaching duties with Esteban Villanueva.

“It was a bad foul. We try to teach our girls that you can’t go from back because they’ll always call a foul.”

Karume conceded that the foul was warranted in that instance, but almost saw himself ejected for continually arguing with the head official for what Karume felt should have been a penalty call for the Eagles.

It was midway through the first half, when freshman Roxana Hernandez (11 goals) battled for possession before dribbling into the penalty area. She was brought down hard by Animo’s Melissa Ortega, but instead of receiving a penalty kick, the Eagles were awarded a corner kick that didn’t produce a shot on goal.

It was an emotional win for Animo Leadership, which played without junior midfielder Destiny Felix, who was tending to her terminally ill father.

“They wanted to win this one for her,” Animo Leadership co-head coach Jose Luis Palomares said.

Marshall junior keeper Marlene Sanchez made nine saves to keep the Eagles within striking distance. The Eagles’ defensive backline was stellar, including Brianna Izagurre, who jumped into an Animo shot attempt to block it, preventing it from becoming a threat.

With only three seniors departing – captains Maria Saravia and Viri Angle and Izagurre – Karume is already setting the bar high for next season.

“I hate to put this out there,” Karume said, “but let me be clear: We expect to move forward after this, and we expect to win our division next year.”

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