Star-News Pick ‘em: Monrovia, Rio will go to the finals

Keith Lair and I will go head-to-head in the Star-News Pick’em. Here is this week’s predictions along with how we did last week.

Last Week: Ramirez (4-1); Lair (4-1)
Season: Ramirez (137-55); Lair (140-52)

Last week: Keith and I were even, both missing Muir’s loss to West Covina.

This week: It’s Final Four time and as an added feature, we will pick the scores for all the games in divisions that feature area teams. I will also add the Southeast Division, which has been talked about in the area all season. I like a final of Monrovia and Paraclete (sorry Coach Z) in the Mid-Valley; Rio Hondo Prep and Mission Prep in the Northeast and La Serna and Santa Fe in the Southeast.


Monrovia vs. Sierra Canyon at Granada Hills HS, 7:30 p.m. — Ramirez (Monrovia); Lair (Monrovia)
San Dimas vs. Paraclete at Antelope Valley College, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Paraclete); Lair (Paraclete))
Rio Hondo Prep vs. St. Monica Catholic at Santa Monica College, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (RHP); Lair (RHP)
Salesian at Mission Prep, 7:30 p.m. — Ramirez (Mission Prep), Lair (MP)
West Covina vs. La Serna at Cal HS, 7:30 p.m. — Ramirez (La Serna); Lair (La Serna)
Santa Fe at Downey, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Santa Fe); Lair (Downey)

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Friday Night Final: Monrovia, Rio advance to Final Four; Muir, San Marino, Flint Prep come up short

San Marino’s Ryan Wood (2) is taken down by San Dimas during the first half of Friday night’s game at San Dimas High School.
(SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep began the season as the area’s best hope for a CIF-Southern Section divisional title, and after Friday, the dynamic duo are the area’s only hope for a division championship, each surving in convincing fashion. Monrovia, getting 149 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Ge Vontray Ainsworth, rolled to any easy win over South El Monte, 43-6. Rio Hondo Prep, meanwhile, was equally impressive on the road at Desert in Lancaster, cruising to a 47-0 victory. Muir, lost a tough one, 21-19 to two-time defending champ West Covina in the Southeast; San Marino gave up the lead late and lost to San Dimas, 31-28, while Flintridge Prep proved to be no match for Northeast top seed Mission Prep, losing 49-14. And now there were two, with Mid-Valley No. 2 seed Monrovia vs. No. 3 Sierra Canyon at Granada Hills High, with Rio back on the road at St. Monica.

Friday’s Results
Monrovia 43, South El Monte 6
MONROVIA – There were those who believed South El Monte High School had a shot to upset two-time defending Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia on Friday night.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to squash those hopes.
Ge Vontray Ainsworth rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns and host Monrovia held the Eagles to minus-49 yards rushing and coasted to a 43-6 victory in a CIF-Southern Section second-round game.
Monrovia, also getting 129 yards passing and a touchdown from quarterback Blake Heyworth and touchdown runs from George Frazier V and Darione Jones, improved to 10-2. The Wildcats will face Sierra Canyon, a 28-20 winner over Arroyo, next Friday at Granada Hills High.
South El Monte, which defeated El Monte to earn a piece of the Mission Valley League crown two weeks ago before defeating Covina last week in its playoff opener, finished 7-5.
The Wildcats scored on their first five possessions to put it away by halftime and took a 29-0 advantage into the break.
Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox: “We played a well-rounded football game tonight. We were firing on all cylinders. We pride ourselves on finishing, and I think we did that tonight. Ge Vontray and Darione Jones played a great ball game, our offensive line did the job up front and our defense did an incredible job. It was an excellent game all the way around.”
San Dimas 31, San Marino 28
SAN DIMAS – Hollywood endings usually are reserved for Denzel Washington, not Denzel Mitchell.
But not even Hollywood could have scripted a better ending on Friday night for Mitchell, a running back/defensive back on the San Dimas High School football team.
Mitchell made the game-turning interception, then moments later scored the game-winning touchdown as San Dimas handed visiting San Marino a 31-28 defeat in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
The win sent San Dimas (11-1) to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. The Saints will play at top-seeded Paraclete next Friday. San Marino finished 10-2.
The Titans twice had 11-point leads in the second half, but costly interceptions and a Saints offense that kept grinding proved to be the difference. San Marino went ahead 28-17 with 3:37 left in the third quarter on Ryan Wood’s 32-yard touchdown run.
San Dimas answered right back with a 46-yard touchdown run by Andrew Espinoza to make it 28-24. Espinoza ran for 187 yards on just five carries.
Denzel Mitchell: “I kept telling my team that we’ve got to make plays and it was just me who made the plays. I was thinking somebody else (would get the ball), but when my name gets called, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for my team.”
West Covina 21, Muir 19
Defending CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division champion West Covina isn’t done yet.
After needing to win its final game in the Hacienda League to make the playoffs, the Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals with a 21-19 victory over third-seeded Muir that was full of clutch calls from Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore.
West Covina (8-4) will face second-seeded La Serna at California High in next week’s semifinals. La Serna (11-1) is the same team the Bulldogs defeated 84-21 last year
or the title while setting a CIF-SS record for points in a championship game.
With Bulldogs quarterback Jon Najera on crutches with an injured ankle, junior Henry Tarin platooned with Antonio Hull at quarterback.
Tarin wasn’t asked to do much, but clinging to a one-point lead, he delivered a 28-yard pass to Sidney Jones at the 10 that eventually set up Aaron Salgado’s 4-yard scoring run to go up 21-13 with 6:53 left.
However, Muir’s Andreece Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to the 5 and later scored on a 3-yard run, but the Mustangs (8-4) came up short on the two-point conversion try to trail, 21-19.
West Covina, using a key first down on fourth and 3, then ate up most of the clock before holding off Muir to advance.
Rio Hondo prep 47, Desert 0
The Rio Hondo Prep offense had an off game Friday night.
But the Kares’ defense was just fine, holding host Desert scoreless for a 47-0 victory in a CIF-SS second round game in Lancaster.
The Kares (10-1) will travel to St. Monica Catholic of Santa Monica in next week’s semifinals. The Mariners scored a 19-16 victory over Boron, preventing another Rio Hondo Prep-Boron semifinal game.
Nate Tayco rushed for two scores and Colby Rivera, who did not practice all week because of a leg infection, threw scoring passes to Jake Holguin and Kevin Horton.
Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain: “We did not play very well. We had more turnovers than any game all year.”
Mission Prep 49, Flintridge Prep 14
Patrick Laird rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a 27-yard scoring pass to lead the Royals.Stefan Smith had 118 yards for Flintridge Prep.
Flintridge Prep coach Antonio Harrison: We’ve done something no team at Flintridge Prep has done in almost 10 years. That’s to make it out of the playoffs and out of the first round. I do not want the kids to be upset at all. I told them the tradition is coming back.”


Monrovia vs. Sierra Canyon at Granada Hills HS
Rio Hondo Prep at St. Monica

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Second round foes San Dimas, San Marino have a loss in common

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

It’s not every year you see two 10-1 teams square off in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section football playoffs.
But that’s exactly the case on Friday night when San Marino (10-1) visits San Dimas (10-1) in a game that surely will have the attention of the rest of the Mid-Valley Division.
“They’ve beaten everyone in front of them except Monrovia and we’ve beaten everyone in front of us except Monrovia, so it’s a neat little game,” San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow said. “We’re very similar, our schools, in terms of makeup.
“It feels a lot like we’re playing ourselves.”
San Dimas took its loss to Monrovia back on Sept. 14 by a score of 35-23.
San Marino’s setback came on
Oct. 26 and the score was 21-16. But reading too much into how each team did against the Wildcats would be foolish, according to Zernickow.
“They are very, very good,” he said. “Both teams. We’re going to have to play our game. The game is going to go really fast, probably two hours, because we’re both going to run the ball.”
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Times set for championship Saturday

Championship Saturday
At Santiago Canyon College, Orange
Division IA

La Salle vs El Dorado, 5 p.m.
At Cypress College
Division 5AA

Alverno vs Pomona Catholic, 11:30 a.m.
Division 5A
St. Monica Academy vs Orange Wood, Academy, 5:30 p.m.
At Irvine HS
Division 3

La Canada vs King, 11:45 a.m.
Division 5
Pas Poly v Glendale, 5:30 p.m.
Finals at Mt. SAC, all day

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Water Polo Playoffs: La Canada, Poly advance to finals


Jubilant Pasadena Poly High players exit the water after their 11-9 win over La Serna High in Wednesday’s CIF-SS Division 5 playoff match. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)

Poly 11, La Serna 9
Pasadena Poly High School, which suffered a pair of one-goal losses to La Serna during the regular season, knows the feeling.
Dennis Grover scored three goals and the Panthers used a big first quarter en route to an 11-9 victory over the Lancers in a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 semifinal at Mt. SAC.
Poly, also getting two goals each from Omar Dairi, Spencer Rogers and Brock Hudnut and some key saves from Josh Ball, improved to 25-2 and will face Glendale, which beat Riverside Poly, 14-7, in Saturday’s championship match scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
La Serna (22-8) was led by George Mooney with four goals.
Poly coach Ryan Katsuyama: “When a team beats you (twice), the third time around is all about revenge. These guys were very motivated to win this game. This victory came at a great time for us. It doesn’t matter what happens in the regular season, the wins are bigger in the playoffs, and that’s what we got today.”

La Canada 11, Palos Verdes 8
The wild card came through for the La Canada High School water polo team on Wednesday afternoon.
Goalkeeper Jeff Lee made seemingly impossible stops in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinal game against Palos Verdes at Irvine High’s Woollett Aquatics Center. He stopped shots with his head. He stopped one-on-one and point-blank shots, too.
The result was a harrowing 11-8 victory to send the top seeded Spartans to Saturday’s championship game. La Canada can extract revenge, of sorts, facing Martin Luther King in the 11:30 a.m. game at Woollett. The Wolves of Riverside defeated the La Canada volleyball team in Tuesday’s semifinals. King defeated Mira Costa, 7-6 minutes before the Spartans took to the pool. La Canada and King both defeated the top two teams from the Bay League.
Lee stopped 19 of the Sea Kings’ 36 shots.
La Canada coach Devon Borisoff; “Jeff is a big-game player. He can be a question mark, but he is always at his best in the biggest games in the most pressure-packed games. I don’t know what it is about it. Usually it is the goalie that gets a little nervous. He had one of his best games ever. He was phenomenal.”

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Area athletes make college choices official

Front row, from left, Rachel Albright from Pasadena High School and Amy Zeronian from Marshall Fundamental School; and back row from left, Michelle Floyd and Bradley Haslam of San Marino and Jeremy Major from Marantha signed letters of intent Wednesday. (Walt Mancini / Staff Photographer)

By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

Christmas came a day early for 11 area athletes.
That’s the feeling most feel on national signing day, when high school senior student athletes officially commit to the college or university of their choice.
The area’s elated 11 was topped by Maranatha’s Jeremy Major, who signed to play Division I basketball at nearby Pepperdine, but it also featured basketball player Alyson Lock (Loyola Marymount) of Keppel; baseball players Joe Mata (Cal State Bakersfield) of Monrovia and Bradley Haslam (Air Force) of San Marino and softball players Michelle Floyd (Arizona) of San Marino, Rachel Albright (Northern State, South Dakota) of Pasadena, Amy Zeronian (Belmont, Tenn.) of Marshall and the La Canada duo of Annie Monroe and Kelsey Drange, who signed with Loyola Marymount.
La Canada girls volleyball player Kendall Walbrecht and Spartans swimmer Brandon Nguyen signed with UC Davis and Navy, respectively.
“For me, it wasn’t hectic at all,” Major said. “It’s really relief that (signing day) is finally here. It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Knowing that I’m going to play basketball on a full-ride scholarship is great.
“I feel more happy for my mom because she doesn’t have to worry about anything. Hard work pays all. It’s all a blessing.”
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Fall National Signing Day: Area athletes expected to sign

Wednesday is fall national signing when non-football athletes sign with their respective colleges. Here’s our short list of area athletes expected to sign. We plan on having the athletes come to our office in Pasadena for a group photo, about 2:30 p.m.
If you are an athlete and are signing, drop me an e-mail at

Joe Mata, Monrovia — Cal State Bakersfield
Bradley Haslam. San Marino –United States Air Force Academy
Rachel Albright, Pasadena — Northern State (South Dakota)
Amy Zeronian, Marshall — Belmont (Tenn)
Michelle Floyd, San Marino – Arizona
Alyson Lock, Keppel — Loyola Marymount
Annie Monroe and Kelsey Drange, La Canada — Loyola Marymount
Jeremy Major, Maranatha — Pepperdine
Brandon Nguyen, La Canada — Navy
Kendall Walbrecht, La Canada — UC Davis

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Star-News Pick’em: San Marino-San Dimas; Muir-WesCo highlight Elite Eight games

REMATCH: San Marino-San Dimas redo highlights Elite Eight round this week.
Staff photo by Keith Birmingham.

Keith Lair and I will go head-to-head in the Star-News Pick’em. Here is this week’s predictions along with how we did last week.

Last Week: Ramirez (7-2); Lair (7-2)
Season: Ramirez (133-54); Lair (136-51)

Last week: Keith and I were even, both missing on La Salle’s loss to Centennial/Compton and Flintridge Prep beating Ribet Academy.

This week: We’re down the Elite Eight, or in the area the Fantastic Five. The big matchups are San Marino at San Dimas in the Mid-Valley Division and Muir at West Covina at the Southeast. I’m going with a split on the West Valley teams, taking Muir over surging West Covina, and San Dimas in a close one over the Titans. Also like Monrovia over South El MOnte, Rio Hondo over Desert and Mission Prep over Flintridge Prep.

Here’s this week’s schedule and predictions:
South El Monte at Monrovia — Ramirez (Monrovia); Lair (Monrovia)
San Marino at San Dimas — Ramirez (San Dimas); Lair (San Dimas)
Muir at West Covina — Ramirez (Muir); Lair (Muir)
Rio Hondo at Desert — Ramirez (RHP); Lair (RHP)
Mission Prep vs. Flintridge Prep, site TBA — Ramirez — (MP); Lair (MP)
All games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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Friday Night Final: Monrovia, Muir, San Marino, Rio Hondo Prep and Flintridge Prep live to fight another week

California’s Robert Rosa (56) tries to stop Muir’s Andreece Brown (5) during the first half of Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoff game. Muir rolled, 44-17.
Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz

It’s five up and four down for the area during the first-round of the CIF-Southern Section divisional football playoffs. Four of the five area winners were expected as favorites Monrovia, Muir, San Marino and Rio Hondo Prep all scored easy wins. The upset special of the night was Flintridge Prep beating Ribet Academy in overtime. And I’m a bit shocked that La Salle was knocked out, losing 12-10 at home to Centennial/Compton. Temple City, Arcadia, and St. Francis also lost.

Muir 44, California 17
PASADENA – The myth about the Muir High football team is that the Mustangs have athletes who play football.
But the reality is that Muir just happens to have football players who can also run fast.
The Mustangs showed it again Friday night.
Andreece Brown rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns and Joshua Muema-Washington accounted for 234 yards and two scores as Muir overwhelmed visiting California in the second half en route to a 44-17 victory over the Condors in a CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division first-round game.
Muir, which held California to 92 yards in the second half, improved to 8-3 and will play two-time defending division champion West Covina in next week’s second round.
California, which got 80 yards rushing from Aaron Garcia, finished 8-3, losing in the first round for the second consecutive season.
Muir coach John Hardy: “Everybody knows we’ve got speed. But we have football players here at John Muir High School. I’m tired of hearing about how much speed we’ve got. We design plays and we have guys who execute. We’re not just speed guys over here.”
Cal coach Jim Arnold: “Second half, we didn’t finish. We did the same in the last three games (of the regular season). We had the game where we wanted it. They made a couple of good adjustments, but we had three turnovers in a span of three to four minutes. If you do that against these guys, you’re going to pay.”
Muir’s Joshua Muema-Washington: The second half we knew we just had to come out and play harder. We knew we made mistakes in the first half, and we just had to come out and play hard and get the job done.”

La Mirada 42, Arcadia 17 – Adam Carrasco rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns as the Southeast’s top seed rolled to an easy win. Arcadia, getting a 45-yard interception return for a TD from Nick Ryor, finished 4-7.
Rio Hondo Prep 57, Bell-Jeff 6 – The Kares, getting 198 yards rushing from Nate Tayco and 149 and three scores from Colby Rivera, looked every bit like they are going to repeat in the Northeast Division.
Flintridge Prep 34, Ribet 28, OT – Stephan Smith scored on a 2-yard run to force overtime and Clayton Weirrick conected Kareem Ismail for the game-winner in the extra period to win it.
San Marino 42, Schurr 7 – Matt Wofford and Ryan Woods combined to rush for 115 yards in the opening quarter and the Titans rolled into the quarterfinals.
Monrovia 50, Viewpoint 0 – Blake Heyworth threw for 149 yards and four touchdowns as the two-time defending Mid-Valley champs showed they are playoff ready.
Centennial/Compton 12, La Salle 10 – Chris Rabine’s 37-yard field-goal with 9 seconds left was blocked as the Lancers’ dream season came crashing down.
Lompoc 42, St. Francis 7 – Jared Lebowitz was limited to 137 yards passing as the Golden Knights season came to an end.
Paraclete 49, Temple City 7 – The Rams changes proves to be no match for top-seeded Paraclete.

Mid-Valley Division

South El Monte at Monrovia
San Marino at San Dimas
Southeast Division
Muir at West Covina
Northeast Division
Rio Hondo at Desert
Mission Prep vs. Flintridge Prep, site TBA
All games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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