By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
LA VERNE – Which side of the San Gabriel Valley is the best basketball played?
For one night, it appears its the east side that reigns surpreme after sweeping the boys and girls games Friday night in the 11th Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic at Damien High School.
The Tribune All-Stars, getting 20 points from Walnut’s Rob Harrelson and 19 from Glendora’s Thomas Rico, rallied to beat their Star-News counterparts, 89-81.
In the girls game, Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley capped arguably one of the top area high school careers by scoring 18 points in leading the Tribune to a 85-60 victory.
Wheatley and Rico were their team’s game MVPs. The Star-News MVPs were Muir’s Dejon Williams, who had 12 points in the boys game, and the Mustangs’ Chy’annea Hodges, who had 11.
The Tribune now leads the boys’ series, 6-5, with the Tribune trimming the Star-News’ lead in the girls series to 6-5.
“This was great,” Rico said. “They were saying we’re undersized, so it’s great to come out and get the win.”
The Star-News, which rallied back from a 21-point deficit to tie the score at halftime, 44-44, looked like it might split the doubleheader when Alhambra’ Miles Ford (13 points) hit a 3-pointer and Keppel’s Adam Thompson converted a fast-break layup for a 70-66 lead. But then Rico, one of the area’s best 3-point shooters, got hot, scoring the next 12 points on three 3-pointers and a 3-point play for a 78-72 lead with 3:23 left.
The Star-News cut it to 87-81 with less than a minute left, but missed back-to-back 3-pointers with 30 seconds to play.
“I just wanted to make sure we got the win,” Rico said. “It got close, and I was able to take over and get us the win.”
The first half of the boys game was two halves in one before the teams settled for a 44-44 deadlock.
The Tribune, which got 13 first-half points from Harrelson, opened with a 34-13 blitz. Harrelson; Damien’s Cade Cunniff, who was a late replacement, and Glendora’s Thomas Rico each hit 3-pointers during the run.
But the Star-News team rallied back with runs of 11-0 and 20-8 to tie it at 44 at halftime.
In the girls game, the Tribune All-Stars put it away early in the second half after opening with an 18-3 surge for a 56-30 lead with about 10 minutes to play. Wheatley, who also had six steals, scored 10 in the second half to put the finishing touches on her high school career, which includes being a four-time All-Area player.
“It feels good to finish with all these amazing girls,” Wheatley said. “It was really fun, and to play with these amazing players was a great way to end my high school career.”
Bishop Amat’s Paulina Santana and Dagmar Ramirez had 15 and nine points, respectively, for the Tribune
IMPORTANT: If you’re a player or parent trying to find out about practice times, please contact Aram Tolegian at email@example.com
GAME: FRIDAY, APRIL 11 at Damien HS
Boys: 8 p.m.
Girls: 6 p.m.
STAR-NEWS BOYS TEAM
Coaches: Ray O’Brien and Jeff Stephens, St. Francis
BOYS TEAM PRACTICE TIMES ARE: Mon, Apr. 7 and Wed. Apr. 9 at St. Francis HS, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Ajon Efferson, Pasadena
Rayjon Moore, Pasadena
Steve Herve, Renaissance
Marty Gaizuaskas, Renaissance
Josh Ayaji, San Gabriel Academy
Dejon Williams, Muir
Evan Crawford, St. Francis
Noah Willerford, St. Francis
Musa Daama, Maranatha
Nick Springer, Maranatha
Goren Lee, Temple City
Adam Thompson, Keppel
Robert Cartwright, Flint. Prep
Justus Tucker, Monrovia
Will Genske, Pasadena Poly
STAR-NEWS GIRLS TEAM
Coach: Tamar Hill, La Canada
Courtney Chen, La Canada
Caroline Knop, La Salle
Teresa Wang, Gabrielino
Aundrea Issakhanian, La Canada
Alyssa Miller, La Canada
Vivian Tran, Gabrielino
Christina Huynh, Arcadia
Kaitlyn Olah, Polytechnic
Alexis Parker, Rio Hondo Prep
Tierra Adams, Muir
Chy’annea Hodges, Muir
Claire Fitzgerald, La Salle
Hope Peron, Maranatha
Kyrstin Nakamura, Keppel
Gabriella Chan, Temple City
Arcadia Elks Championship
Monrovia 2, Alhambra 0 — Brian McConnell threw a one-hitter as Monrovia blanked a Marco Briones-less Moors team.
Oak Hills 5, San Marinp 0 — In a battle of aces, Oak Hills’ Solomon Bates got the better of San Marino’s Jeff Bain. Bates also went 3-4 at the plate to with his 11 Ks and six shutout innings.
St. Francis 67, Kearny 62 — The Knights never trailed in the second half, but when things got hairy toward the end, Evan Crawford hit a 3-pointer with just over a minute to play to extend a four-point lead to seven.
The Knights improved to 20-12 and will play at Santa Margarita on Saturday night.
St. Francis standout Kyle Leufroy finished with 17 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Mission Hills 54, Keppel 50 — The Aztecs saw their season come to a close despite hanging tough on the road against Mission Hills.
Keppel lead by by two with just over two minutes to play, but foul trouble added up and the Aztecs couldn’t hold off the host Grizzlies.
Kelli Kamida led Keppel with 18 points and Sophia Song added nine. Keppel, which lost two games in the open division during the Southern Section playoffs, finished 25-4.
South Pasadena 74, Sierra 69 — The Tigers got 28 points from Sophia Hathaway and double-digit performances from Lexie Scholtz, Kristen Kafkaloff and Elise Takahama to advance over host Sierra of Tollhouse.
South Pasadena improved to 21-6 and will play either Lakeside or Hoover in Saturday’s second round.
Clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute, Kafkaloff hit three free throws to keep Sierra, which never led in the second half, at bay.
La Canada 52, Eagle Rock 49 — Sarah Borland buried a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to bury Eagle Rock and send the Spartans onto the second round where they will play at top-seeded Santa Barbara on Saturday night.
Pasadena Poly 71, Liberty Charter 26 — The Panthers opened a big early lead and never looked back. How big? Try 38-0. Nuff said.
Pasadena 70, Eisenhower 60 — Ajon Efferson scores 28 of his 35 in the second half. Bulldogs back at home on Friday in the quarters.
La Canada 57. Pioneer 53 — Sparty trails most of the game and rallies late to force semis showdown with St. Francis.
St. Francis 55, Gladstone 43 — The Knights fended off numerous rallies by Gladstone to forced semis showdown with La Canada.
Boys Basketball Playoff Results from Friday
AB Miller 62, Keppel 57 OT
Pasadena 77, Ontario 58 — Ajon Efferson scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the second half and the Dogs shook off a shaky first half to rout the Jaguars. PHS hosts Eisenhower in Tuesday’s second round.
Whittier 62, Temple City 52
La Canada 87, Lompoc 51 — The Spartans made 21 3-pointers and were led by Koko Kurdoghlian’s 23 points. Grant Arthur had 15. Sparts visits Pioneer in Tuesday’s quarters.
St. Francis 69, San Dimas 45 — Still cruising toward a showdown with neighbor La Canada in the semis.
Harvard-Westlake 98, Maranatha 96 OT
South Pasadena 81, Rubidoux 18 — Thanks for coming. The Tigers led 26-1 after the first quarter and the game was played with a running clock for the entire second half. South Pas gets Gabrielino in a “locals-only” second round matchup on Saturday night.
Maranatha 76, Academy of Academic Excellence — Thanks for coming. The Minutemen led 27-2 after the first quarter and the game was played with a running clock in the fourth quarter. Channon Fluker had 16 points and Victoria Chang added 15 for Maranatha, which will host Crossroads in Saturday’s second round.
Cabrillo 86, Monrovia 81
La Canada 59, Glenn 39
St. Francis 63, Yucca Valley 59 OT
Maranatha 64, San Marino 31
Valley Christian 60, Muir 48
Bosco Tech at Laguna Beach
La Salle vs. Pacific Hills at Providence HS, 6 p.m.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 74, Flintridge Prep 49
Desert at Pasadena Poly
Lucerne Valley vs. Renaissance Academy at Loma Alta Park, 7:30 p.m.