Cajon girls hold off Miller, 55-53 in a great game

On the surface, there might be little to enjoy about Cajon’s girls basketball 55-53 Citrus Belt League victory over Miller on Thursday.

  • Cajon won despite being held scoreless for the final 2:50.
  • The teams went a combined 0-for-4 from the line in the final 1:01, with Cajon twice missing the front end of a one-and-one.
  • More than 4 1/2 minutes into the game, the score was 4-4.
  • Miller made just eight of 18 free throws in the game.

But despite all that, it was an incredible game. It was probably one of the best league girls basketball games I’ve seen in a long time. It had a great pace to it. Both teams are fast, move the ball and play tough defense, and neither team led by more than seven points at any point in the game. Every shot and pass was contested. Neither team goes deep into their benches for a game like this, and both teams were in foul trouble but that made the game interesting.

Miller definitely has more size and experience. Miller has 6-foot-3 senior LaCrisha Mackall and starts two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Cajon has no player taller than 6-feet, and starts three freshmen, a junior and a senior. The contrast in styles was interesting.

I am already looking forward to the rematch, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at Miller. But both teams need to be careful as there is plenty of talent in the league. On an off-night, Miller or Cajon could lose to someone else in the league.

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Inland Empire Shootout Schedule for basketball

This Friday and Saturday, Eisenhower High is hosting the Inland Empire Shootout, a two-day showcase event for mostly boys teams, but also one girls game.
The schedule:
Friday, Jan. 4
Corona Santiago vs. Eisenhower (girls), 4 p.m.
Summit vs. Miller (boys), 5:30 p.m.
Riverside M.L. King vs. Eisenhower (boys), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 5
Moreno Valley Canyon Springs vs. Cajon (boys), noon
Citrus Valley vs. Carter (boys), 1:30 p.m.
Miller vs. Rialto (boys), 3 p.m.
Long Beach St. Anthony vs. Chino HIlls (boys), 4:30 p.m.
Damien vs. Eisenhower (boys), 6 p.m.
Etiwanda vs. Riverside M.L. King (boys), 7:30 p.m.

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Marcus Soward resigns at Miller

Miller football coach Marcus Soward announced his resignation on Friday night after the Rebels finished a 1-9 season. He had told the administration on Monday.

“I had no guarantee of a teaching job next year,” Soward said. “I have a 5-year-old son and I had to do what was best.”

Soward said he didn’t know if the poor season was a reason he was not guaranteed a teaching job for next year. He was 6-14 in two seasons at Miller after arriving from Arroyo Valley. Continue reading

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Miller’s Reshawn Hooker commits to Utah

Miller football coach Marcus Soward reports that linebacker Reshawn Hooker, a first-team All-Sun selection, has given a verbal commitment to play for the University of Utah.
Soward said that the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hooker chose Utah over Colorado, Arizona State and Hawaii.
“There were some other schools like SC looking at him as a DB, but its better for him to play a position he’s been playing for years,” Soward said.
Hooker had 112 tackles, eight sacks, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 10 games for Miller.

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Miller embarks on the Soward era

The 2010 season ended about as awkwardly as it could have for Miller, as the Rebels had a senior hazing incident spiral out of control and cost coach Jeff Strycula his job the night before they were going to play for a league title against Redlands East Valley. Predictably, the dysfunctional Rebels lost and were eliminated from postseason consideration despite finishing in a second-place tie in the Citrus Belt League.

But new coach Marcus Soward, who was hired to replace Strycula in the offseason after spending the past three years as Arroyo Valley’s head man, hasn’t encountered any of the awkwardness and chaos that spelled the end of the 2010 season.

“It’s a great atmosphere out here,” said Soward, who has also coached at San Bernardino High School. “It’s a very family-oriented program and everyone is working well together. There are a lot of high-character kids, which makes it easy to coach.”

The Rebels don’t have a lot coming back from last year, as the Rebels were full of seniors in 2010. But Miller does receive perhaps the biggest impact transfer in the county in senior linebacker Reshawn Hooker (6-2, 210), who has 14 scholarship offers already after a first-team all-San Andreas League season at Arroyo Valley last year as a junior.
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Four county volleyball teams move on

A few county teams survived the first round of CIF-SS boys volleyball play Tuesday and will be playing in the second round today, with three teams (Miller, Arrowhead Christian and Summit) hosting games.

Miller was the only Citrus Belt League team to survive the first round Tuesday, defeating Montebello in four games (21-25, 25-12, 25-22, 32-30) to notch the first playoff victory in school history. The Rebels will be tested tonight at 7 p.m. against Torrance Bishop Montgomery in Division 4 action.

ACA, the No. 4 seed in Division 5, will host Saddleback Valley Christian at 7 p.m. tonight after sweeping Gardena Serra in three games by the score of 25-15, 25-23, 25-23. San Andreas League champion Summit also advanced in D5 play by taking care of Glendale Adventist in routine fashion, sweeping it 25-10, 25-10, 25-13. The SkyHawks will host Bellflower St. John Bosco at 7 p.m.

Ontario Christian also advanced in the D5 playoffs with a four-game victory over Carson CAMS — 25-16, 25-11, 21-25, 25-21. The Knights will play at No. 2 seeded San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret’s at 5 p.m. today.

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Wells, Mitchell ruled ineligible by CIF

The transfer of girls basketball players Chloe Wells and Cassandra Mitchell to Miller from Apex (N.C.) High School was denied by the CIF earlier this week according to Miller athletic director Dwight Berry, leaving the seniors ineligible for varsity play.

“They originally approved the transfer, but someone complained and I guess they decided to re-evaluate their decision,” Berry said. “We knew that we would have to file the paperwork with CIF and we figured once it was approved, everything was fine. But they found something I guess that made them change their decision.”

The blow to the Miller girls basketball program, which was 0-21 last season, is huge, as Wells was a two-time all-CIF and all-Sun first-team player for the Rebels as a freshman and sophomore, leading Miller to consecutive CIF titles before moving to North Carolina last offseason. The 5-foot-7 guard signed with Duke University late last week.

Mitchell, who is living with the Wells family according to Berry, is also no slouch, as she was second behind Wells in scoring for Apex last season.

The next step in the process is for the Wells family to appeal the decision, something that it will most assuredly do. Efforts to reach the Wells family have been unsuccessful to this point.

“It’s not over,” Berry said. “They can appeal to a panel, to a single arbiter or take it all the way to the state office. It’s in the family’s hands right now – I can provide them paperwork but that’s about it at this point.”

This isn’t a unique situation for Miller, which went through a similar situation with football player David Dash last offseason. Dash, a senior running back on the Rebels, was originally banned from varsity play for two years after transferring from Fontana High School, but was cleared to play by a court order after appealing the decision.

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Sun top 10

The updated top 10. With two top 5 teams taking a tumble, there was quite a bit of shuffling.

Sun Top 10

1. Rancho Cucamonga (1-0)
Previous ranking: 1. Last week: def. Damien, 27-14. Up next: Friday vs. Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (0-0).

2. Redlands East Valley (0-0)
Previous ranking: 2. Last week: idle. Up next: Friday vs. Clovis East (0-1).

3. Colton (0-0)
Previous ranking: 3. Last week: idle. Up next: Friday vs. Vista Murrieta (0-0).

4. Chino Hills (1-0)
Previous ranking: 6. Last week: def. Lakewood Mayfair, 30-6. Up next: Friday vs. No. 10 Chaffey (1-0).

5. Barstow (0-0)
Previous ranking: 7. Last week: idle. Up next: Friday vs. Rialto (0-0)

6. Kaiser (0-0)
Previous ranking: 8. Last week: idle. Up next: Friday at Apple Valley (0-0).

7. Etiwanda (1-0)
Previous ranking: 9. Last week: def. Summit, 20-17. Up next: Friday vs. Temecula Valley (0-0)

8. Cajon (1-0)
Previous ranking: 10. Last week: def. Duarte, 55-0. Up next: Friday at Eisenhower (0-0).

9. Upland (1-0)
Previous ranking: NR. Last week: def. Miller, 23-8. Up next: Friday vs. Glendora (0-0)

10. Chaffey (1-0)
Previous ranking: NR. Last week: def. Alta Loma, 34-10. Up next: Friday at No. 4 Chino Hills (1-0).

Just missed the cut: Serrano (0-1), Los Osos (1-0), Ayala (1-0), Miller (0-1)

Dropped out: No. 4 Miller (0-1), No. 5 Serrano (0-1).

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Rice joins Miller staff

Former Eisenhower High School football coach John Rice, who resigned in December after three years coaching the Eagles, has found a home on Jeff Steinberg’s staff at Miller, joining the staff as a defensive assistant.

“Jeff and I have talked in the past about being on the same staff together if the opportunity presented itself and it was something we were both interested in,” Rice said. “He’s done a great job of building that program and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Rice, who has served as a defensive coordinator in previous coaching stops, has worked with Steinberg before, albeit briefly. Rice assisted the Miller defensive staff when Steinberg coached the San Bernardino All-Stars in the 2008 Inland Empire All-Star football classic.

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All-star thoughts

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I covered the Inland Empire All-Star Football Classic last night, a game that didn’t go too well for the San Bernardino boys, who fell 38-7 to Riverside.

The San Bernardino team, coached by Los Osos’ Tom Martinez, didn’t have the full arsenal that Riverside had, as several highly-touted, Division I-committed players who were scheduled to play during the week dropped out. Among those were Arroyo Valley offensive lineman Michael Philipp – the No. 1 guard in the nation according to Rivals.com, Los Osos QB Richard Brehaut, Cajon CB Marlon Pollard, Upland CB Osahon Irabor and Upland CB Taj Johnson. Upland QB Josh Nunes also didn’t play, as a hand injury suffered in the Central Division title game with Rancho Cucamonga hasn’t fully healed.

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