National Signing Day: Here’s who we have so far ….


Above: Last year’s football photo at the Rose Bowl.

Here’s who we have so far. We want to have a group photo that’ll run in Thursday’s paper. If you are on this list please come to the Star-News at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday wearing a sweater/shirt of your school. If you are signing to a Division I school on Wednesday and you are not on this list, e-mail me at miguel.melendez@sgvn.com for details.

FOOTBALL
Monrovia’s Ellis McCarthy — UCLA
Muir’s Kevon Seymour — USC
Muir’s Tairen Owens — UCLA
Arcadia’s Taylor Lagace — UCLA
Arcadia’s Myles Carr — Fresno State
St. Francis’ Travis Talianko — San Jose State
St. Francis’ Kristion Grbavac — San Diego
Monrovia’s Luke Williams — UC Davis

GIRLS SOCCER
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Katie Johnson — USC
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Alexa Montgomery — Arizona
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Breaana Koemans — Northeastern
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Lindsey Espe — Belmont
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Jillian Jacobs — LMU
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Tera Trujillo — New Mexico
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Katelyn Almeida — New Mexico
Arcadia’s Hayley Greep — Cal State Northridge
South Pasadena’s Taylor Colliau — Valparaiso

BOYS WATER POLO
Pasadena Poly’s Colin Woolway — Yale
Pasadena Poly’s Henry Pray — UCLA

GIRLS WATER POLO
Pasadena’s Alegra Hueso — USC

Below: Girls soccer group photo from last year

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Boys Basketball: Keppel’s Matt Low scores 30 points as the Aztecs nail 12 3-pointers to beat rival Alhambra, 62-49, on Friday night.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA — The forecast may have indicated clear skies on Friday night, but it was raining 3s inside Alhambra High School’s gym.

Keppel’s Matt Low hit five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 30 points as the Aztecs buried Alhambra for a 62-49 Almont League win.

Keppel (15-8, 5-1) hit 12 of 20 3-pointers and Alhambra (9-11, 2-3) never came close to matching the Aztecs’ efficient shooting from the perimeter, much less defending it. Keppel had open looks, and it gradually got better for the Aztecs, to the point that Low and Garrett Masada, who hit four 3-pointers to finish with 16 points, made the extra effort for step-back jumpers from beyond the arc.

“What we try to do is if we find a hot guy we try to run more sets for him and isolate him,” Keppel coach Hung Duong said.

It’s the third straight game Keppel has hit at least 10 3-pointers, and to no one’s surprise has won in convincing fashion. The Aztecs shot 6 of 10 from the 3-point line in the first half.

“After you hit one or two threes you have to play better defense than that,” Alhambra coach Robert Blanchard said. “They shot exceptionally well, but we could have played a little better defensively.”

Alhambra’s Miles Ford scored a team-high 14 points and Aaron Cosme, who played for the first time after missing two games because of a head injury, added nine points.

The Moors not only struggled matching Keppel from the 3-point line they also couldn’t establish a post presence dispite several mismatches, and with it the game slipped away.

“They just beat us physically to the spots,” Blanchard said. “We had a hard time executing our offense that way. When we started attempting to match them with outside shots it was out of frustration, guys not getting into open spots and instead forcing shots.

“Our game plan was to get the ball inside, but part of the problem was our bigs didn’t demand it enough and get in position. We were a step slow.”

Keppel took a 35-23 at the half and led by as much as 53-31 on Adam Thompson converted a free throw with 25.5 seconds left in the third quarter. In that quarter, Alhambra converted 2 of 6 three-point attempts from Kevin La and Cosme, who hit it as time expired. The Moors finished 4 of 16 from the 3-point line.

Keppel’s success running the floor and its full-court press was too much for Alhambra to handle as fatigue clearly set it late in the third quarter.The Moors at one stretch missed four consecutive layups on two possessions with under a minute left in the third quarter. And Alhambra still struggled defending the 3-point play as Low twice was fouled behind the 3-point line. Much to Duong’s chagrin, Low only hit one-of-6 free throws.

Still, the chess game was set, and Keppel took Alhambra out of its element.

“I think Alhambra’s more of a deliberate type of offense,” Duong said. “They like to make us play a half-court game, but they got caught in the running game with us and that’s our type of game.”

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Boys Basketball: Muir overcomes sloppy play, beats Burbank, 54-42, to remain unbeaten in Pacific League. Pasadena improves to 8-1 in league with 49-35 win over Glendale.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA — It’s becoming clear the longer the Muir High School boys basketball team remains undefeated in the Pacific League the more difficult it’ll become to keep it that way.

No surprise they’ve become the new team to beat, the Mustangswere given a formidable challenge by Burbank, which led by four in the third quarter before Muir reverted back to its style, swarming the visiting Bulldogs with a relentless defense that resulted in a 54-42 win Wednesday night.

Muir (20-1, 9-0) can’t simply count on its talent and unparalleled speed to keep it atop the league standings, and the Mustangs got a crash course of that against Burbank (11-11, 3-6), which also led by four at the half against Pasadena earlier this week before losing.

“I agree,” Muir coach Gamal Smalley said. “I think team’s are getting up for Muir becuase we’ve had a little bit of success. We have to fight through our fatigue.”

That Muir had finals earlier in the day isn’t an excuse, but the early-school release meant the Mustangs had a long break before tipoff.

“They’re out at 12:30, lounging around for most of the day,” Smalley said. “But we have to play through it and recognize it won’t get easy. Nobody is going to give up on us.”

Muir got off to a solid start, quickly building a 9-0 lead and its defense limiting Burbank to 0 for 6 shooting on its first eight possessions while forcing them to commit four turnovers. Dion Nelson’s 3-pointer off a Bulldogs turnover made it 16-2 with 1:48 left in the game. Alex Voskanian scored the only points for Burbank, on a putback to make it 9-2 and two three-pointers in the final minute. Burbank shot 3 of 14 in the first quarter.

Muir’s Brian Carrier and Nelson scored the only points in the second quarter while the Mustangs were burned with dribble penetration and kick-outs.

Burbank took the lead on a Voskanian 3-pointer with 2:39 left in the third quarter to make it 31-28. Caine Brown’s layup made it 33-28 and the Bulldogs led, 36-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

Muir went into a zone late in the third quarter but it went into full effect in the fourth quarter. Burbank found it tough adjusting to the zone, committing seven turnovers in the fourth, four of which came inthe first minute that saw no shot attempts from the Bulldogs.

Jelani Mitchell, who finished with 13 points and four steals, stole the inbounds pass on the opening play in the fourth and tied it with a fastbreak layup, 36-36. On the ensuing play, it was Tevin Polk making a steal. He scored in similar fashion to make it 38-36, a lead the Mustangs would only add to. Burbank’s Brown on the next play was called for a foul trying to position himself against Polk. Brown’s frustration was evident as he pushed Polk from behind to give Muir possession. Brown fouled out with 3:45 in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs suddenly went away from driving in, looking for the outside shot that never came.

Andre Frazier played a big hand in forcing Burbank outside. He became a force in the middle and finished with five blocks along with eight points.

“Once we went into the zone he was able to be the shot blocker,” Smalley said. “He’s capable of doing that. That’s a big weapon, as an eraser, so to speak.”

Nelson showed no ill effects of a sprained ankle suffered
on Monday, finishing with 12 points.

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Basketball: For the first time in at least four years, there’s a new No. 1 boys team in the Star-News area.

For the first time in at least four years, Pasadena is not the No. 1 team in the Star-News area. The honor belongs to rival Muir (19-1, 8-0) after the Mustangs dethroned Pasadena (14-6, 7-1) last week in the much-anticipated game that definitely lived up to its hype. The teams will meet again Feb. 9 in the season finale at Muir, but for now, the No. 1 spot will belong to Muir. Ever since I came to work here four years ago, Pasadena from the very beginning and through the entire season — from the preseason rankings to the final top 10 rankings — the Bulldogs were always the No. 1 team. It didn’t matter if Pasadena had a sub .500 record in nonleague or what result ensued in the Pacific League because at the end of the day the Bulldogs without question had the best talent in the area and could play with anyone in the area. That’s why you rarely, if ever, saw Pasadena schedule area teams in the area for nonleague competition. You always saw them play out of the area, and for good reason: No team was on par with the Bulldogs. That’s not the case anymore. Muir has risen from the ashes, drumming some noise last year and finally showing us what they’re really made of this season. I saw Muir on Monday, and to watch the Mustangs on defense was like watching an artist paint a masterpiece with every brush stroke. Check back later today for the Burbank-Muir result. For now, here’s the rest of the top 10 rankings for boys and girls basketball:

STAR-NEWS BOYS TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. Muir (19-1)
Special team in the making
2. Pasadena (14-6)
Loss to Muir left side effects
3. Renaissance Acad. (17-2)
Handedly beat Cantwell SH
4. Maranatha (15-5)
Showed heart vs. Village Chr.
5. La Salle (12-9)
Blown out by Serra, 70-29
6. La Caada (12-7)
Spartans back on track
7. Flintridge Prep (11-7)
Rivalry vs. Poly loses luster
8. San Marino (12-8)
Tough 47-45 loss to Blair
9. South Pasadena (11-10)
Win vs. Spartans no fluke
10. Blair (9-9)
Keeping games too close

STAR-NEWS GIRLS TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. Keppel (17-3)
Beat Bishop Montgomery by 1
2. Muir (19-3)
Forfeit keeps Mustangs 8-0
3. Duarte (13-1)
12-game winning streak
4. Pasadena Poly (15-4)
Miller closes in on No. 2 scorer
5. La Salle (13-6)
Kopcha scored 30 vs. CSH
6. South Pasadena (15-6)
Big game vs. Monrovia Friday
7. Monrovia (7-5)
Four consecutive wins
8. Rosemead (13-7)
Gauthier carrying load
9. Pasadena (11-9)
Showed can play big
10. Arcadia (11-7)
Three consecutive defeats

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Soccer: St. Francis back atop Star-News rankings; Arcadia girls making some noise in Pacific League, ranked No. 4.

BOYS SOCCER TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. St. Francis (4-7-7)
Big comeback vs. Loyola
2. La Caada (10-5-3)
Tied Monrovia 1-1
3. Monrovia (13-6-1)
Meets Spartans again Feb. 9
4. Bosco Tech (10-1-2)
Went 2-0-1 last week
5. Pasadena (6-3-3)
Bulldogs are 3-1 in league
6. La Salle (10-3-3)
Beat Bishop Montgomery, Amat
7. Marshall (9-0-6)
Too many ties for Eagles
8. Pasadena Poly (7-5-2)
Panthers are 3-1 in league
9. South Pasadena (11-10)
Darkhorse in Rio Hondo Lg.
10. Duarte (5-5-1)
Falcons quickly fading

GIRLS SOCCER TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. Flintridge S.H. (10-4-1)
Second half of league begins
2. Pasadena Poly (15-2)
Has week to prepare for Flintridge
3. Flintridge Prep (10-2-1)
Two consecutive shutouts
4. Arcadia (9-4-2)
Impressive Pacific League run
5. South Pasadena (11-2-4)
Two point lead after first round
6. Pasadena (10-3-2)
First league loss to CV
7. San Marino (7-2-4)
Up and down league play
8. La Caada (9-2-2)
Played South Pas to scoreless tie
9. Gabrielino (4-2-3)
Showdown vs. Arroyo Tuesday
10. Mayfield (8-4)
Needs big finish for Top 3

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BREAKING NEWS: Maranatha’s Jeremy Major verbally commits to Pepperdine. It’s unlikely, though, that Division I schools will stop courting the junior point guard.


Above: Maranatha’s Jeremy Major (3) has mad hops. Surprised he didn’t verbal to Ball So Hard University.

Maranatha’s Jeremy Major verbally commited to Pepperdine on Tuesday night, the Star-News has learned. Major, a junior point guard, had another offer from the Unviersity of Pacific, but other schools also were interested. Major, a three-year starter, is averaging 26.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.3 blocks for the 15-3 Minutemen. Major scored a game-high 24 points against Village Christian in the Olympic League opener last week, a game Pepperdine coaches attended. The Waves offered the next day. Major attended a Pepperdine game over the weekend and was in Malibu today meeting with admissions and, according to a source, decided it was the best fit for him. I’ll have more with Major on the blog Wednesday. My initial reaction was: Already? Major will become even more coveted at the end of the year heading into summer camp and then his final year. And just because Major’s already committed it doesn’t mean schools will stop recruiting him. Quite the opposite, schools will likely pursue him even harder. Still, you can’t go wrong with Pepperdine: scenic view, great education and rising program.

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BREAKING NEWS: Well, breaking news to me, at least. Add Keppel to another school that needs a football coach after Bobby Madrid resigned just before Christmas break.

Just heard today that Bobby Madrid, who coached at Keppel three years and led the Aztecs to breaking an 18-game losing streak in football, resigned his position sometime before Christmas break. We’ll have more on this later on the blog Wednesday. Madrid also is the school’s softball coach.

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Boys Basketball: Muir runs away from Arcadia, 77-64; Pasadena overcomes four-point deficit at the half to beat Burbank, 52-46.


Above: Who knew Gamal Smalley could sing? Read story to see what I’m talking about.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

ARCADIA — What started out like a close basketball game the Muir High School boys basketball turned into a track meet in the third quarter.

The visiting Mustangs used their trademark swarming defense to create scoring in transition, going on a 20-3 run and never looking back to dispatch Arcadia 77-64 on Monday night in Pacific League action.

The latest result was nowhere near when the teams met in the league opener, Muir (19-1, 8-0) needing overtime period and 38 points from Jelani Mitchell to get past Arcadia (9-11, 2-6).

This time, Mitchell and the high-flying Mustangs showed their defensive prowess, limiting Arcadia to empty baskets on nine of 10 possessions and five turnovers during Muir’s offensive spurt that started with the Mustangs leading 36-33 with 6:58 left in the game.

“I didn’t know all of those numbers but I did think the guys played with a lot of energy in that third quarter,” Muir coach Gamal Smalley said. “That got us going with transition baskets off their turnovers.”

Muir’s speed proved overwhelming for Arcadia to handle, causing the Apaches’ offense to stall.

“We’ve had our last few games when we get pressed and we get into scrambling and not running our offense,” Arcadia coach Ben Cordeiro. “We start shooting one-pass shots instead of running our offense. We don’t play well when we’re not patient.”

Muir led 36-32 at the half but the Mustangs got it going on Nelson’s 3-pointer and a Mitchell bank shot on a pull-up jumper to make it 41-33. Arcadia’s Jeffrey Radzwill hit a 3-pointer in the Apaches’ lone basket during the long run. Nelson, Mitchell and Andre Frazier put on a show that looked more like a passing clinic, but it was their handcuffing defense coupled with unparalleled speed that put the game away with one quarter to go.

“It’s funny you mention that because I always ask the guys, ‘Are we a basketball team,’” Smalley said. “They go, ‘No, we’re a track team’ and that’s our philosophy. It’s no scret we try to run, run, run, run. During that little segment we got it going.”

Mitchell, who finished with a game-high 22 points, countered Arcadia’s 3-pointer with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. His fadeaway jumper on the ensuing possession off an Apaches turnover made it 46-36 before Nelson made a steal and fastbreak layup with the defense trailing. Nelson, who sprained his right ankle just before the run started, finished with 14 points.

Arcadia’s Brian Taylor finished with a team-high 20 points and Radzwill added 19. But it’s becoming clear the Apaches have other obstacles to overcome.

“I justthink our team has some issues with attitudes and team comradarie,” Cordeiro said. “We’re not puling on the same direction. We have guys looking out for their own agendas and not thea team’s. That’s where we’re at right now.”

About the only thing that went wrong for Smalley was the banter he had back and forth with officials. By the time the fourth quarter came, with 3:19 left to be exact, all Smalley could do was make light of the situation, telling one official “Even Stevie Wonder can see that” before saranating a line from “Isn’t She Lovely.”

“But he told me to take that to American Idol,” said Smalley laughing. “It’s easy to laugh about it when you’re up.”

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BREAKING NEWS: Pasadena girls to forfeit three games in Pacific League, wiping out huge win over rival Muir.

We’ve learned moments ago through the Pasadena Unified School District that the Pasadena girls basketball team will forfeit five games, three of which were key wins in the Pacific League, including a huge 36-32 win over Muir last week. The Bulldogs will forfeit the games after it was discovered they were playing with a player ruled academically ineligible on Dec. 23. She played in games against Burbank (loss), Burroughs (win), Glendale (win), Arcadia (loss), Muir (win). The league will soon be notified of the forfeits. It’s possible that the player also took part in games during tournament play, but that has not been determined. However, the forfeits in league are of importance, and could have huge ramifications for the Bulldogs’ playoff hopes. Pasadena was 11-7 overall and 4-2 in league. The Bulldogs now will fall to 7-10 overall and 1-5 in league. Muir now returns to unbeaten status in league, improving to 18-3 overall and 7-0 in league.

STATEMENT FROM PASADENA PRINCIPAL GILBERT BARRAZA:

“After investigating the academic progress or our athletes, it was discovered that a player on the Pasadena High School (PHS) Girls Varsity Basketball team was academically ineligible from 12/23/11 to the present. Because of this discovery, PHS will be forfeiting the wins in the following games that this player played in:

1/6 vs. Burroughs
1/9 vs. Glendale
1/20 vs. Muir

Integrity and academics trump all else at PHS. I hope that this can serve as an example to our students that when you make a mistake you own up to it and carry forward. That is what we plan to do at PHS.”

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