UPDATED: Boxing columnist Robert Morales offers his early thoughts …

This thread was started at the request of loyal blogger MATMTWTBAG, who is an admitted Amat fan. He asked for my thoughts and I will give them and you can share yours.

BOXING COLUMNIST ROBERT MORALES’ EARLY THOUGHTS: “I think Oscar is going to win. I think he’s going to stop him late, because any time someone has crossed the line and talked as much smack as Mayweather has, De La Hoya has stopped that fighter.

in reference to Mayweather’s smack … “De La Hoya told me today, and I asked him straight out, of those three guys (Ricardo Mayorga, Fernando Vargas and Mayweather), who has been the worst? He said Mayweather, by far. I saw the look in Oscar’s eye today, and believe me, he’s going to win this fight.

how it’s going to happen … “He’s (De La Hoya) still very fast. Mayweather may be faster, but Oscar is still a hard hitter. He’s going to be aggressive, yet patient at the same time. When the perfect time comes to crack Mayweather with that left hook, he’ll land it and drop Mayweather. I don’t think Mayweather can hurt Oscar.”

ARAM’S THOUGHTS ABOUT ROBERT MORALES: First off, I should tell you that Morales is an Edgewood High alum. He’s also the best boxing writer in the country. You won’t find anyone better. He garners a certain respect from the boxers, and I’m talking about the biggest of the big, that other writers just can’t get. Morales now works out of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and I miss our boxing conversations when he was in this office. His opinion is priceless.

ARAM’S THOUGHTS: First of all, I’ve been saying for a quite a while that May 5 is going to be the best sports day of the year. It’s Kentucky Derby day, the fifth weekend of baseball season and last but certainly not least, De La Hoya-Mayweather. Not to mention everything is set in the backdrop of it being Cinco De Mayo on a Saturday!!!! I hate to see what my house is going to look like at midnight.
I haven’t been this excited about a fight since I knew Lewis would kick Tyson’s ass a few years back. In terms of hype and setting, this could be the biggest fight in quite some time. You can be certain it will shatter all Pay-Per View records and anyone involved is going to get rich.
RACE CARD – You’d have to be a fool to not know, that for whatever stupid reason, African Americans and Latinos haven’t been getting along. You can bet that the promoters of this fight will use this as a very strong selling point. I think it’s safe to say this is very much going to be viewed the same way Holmes-Cooney was in the early 80s – substitute white for Mexican.
I don’t know if it’s only a SoCal thing, or what. I don’t know if it’s really been handed down from the jail cells of black and hispanic gang leaders, but it’s definitely going down. And now you have De La Hoya vs. Mayweather. Never before has De La Hoya appeared more Mexican to his fans. I have both black and hispanic friends. My Mexicano friends who used to root for De La Hoya to get beat because he wasn’t “true to the game” in their eyes, are all of a sudden HUGE De La Hoya fans.You wouldn’t believe the things they said about De La Hoya before he fought Chavez. I’m not Mexican, but my girlfriend is, several of my buddies are and so on. I’m just wondering, if Mayweather beats De La Hoya, is Cinco De Mayo ruined?
This fight is so great that it shouldn’t be about race, but it will be.
ANALYSIS: I actually like De La Hoya to win the fight. I think he has to knock Pretty Boy out to win, because you can’t beat him in a technical fight. But, I kinda question who Pretty Boy has fought. I thought that Zab Judah, who isn’t that strong, actually held his own for much of his fight against Mayweather. I don’t think beating Gatti is anything special. Meanwhile, you look at De La Hoya and see nothing but great wins AND losses against GREAT fighters. I think De La Hoya is stronger, fast enough and will be very inspired. I don’t think Pretty Boy can knock him out and his only shot is to out-point him. I’ll take the +200 with De La Hoya.

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The Jackrabbits are coming, the Jackrabbits are coming!!! (to Damien?)


She can fly …

Long Beach Poly, ranked No. 2 in the country by USA Today, will play Bishop Amat on Tuesday night at Damien. Tip-off is 7 p.m. If you’ve never been to a girls basketball game, you’ll want to make this your first one. The SGV couldn’t ask for a greater event. Tuesday’s atmosphere should be amazing. Needless to say, Amat will need a crowd like it would send for a championship football game. This is one tough opponent!

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Las Amat Chicas de Victory …

Amat downed Lynwood, 57-52. A shock to many outside the SGV, to be sure. Gahr coach Al Dorogusker had this to say about Lynwood this week to the L.A. Times …

“Lynwood is the best team in Southern California,” Dorogusker said after his team was beaten by Brea, 83-38, on Wednesday in the second round of the playoffs. “I think they’re better than [top-seeded] Long Beach Poly.”

QUICK ARAM THOUGHT: Dorogusker, Dorogusker, Dorogusker, you sir should leave the picking to the sports writers. You can’t make blanket statements like that without seeing Amat or Troy or whomever you haven’t seen. Truth is, LB Poly, Amat, Troy, Lynwood and Brea would probably take turns on each other. Back to the game … great turnout by the Amat fans. The Chicas had more fans than Lynwood and it helped. Not enough for one of the refs, but enough for the team. I’ve been to almost every Amat win in the postseason for the four seasons and I can tell you this one ranks right up there with the state titles. Unlike past postseasons, Amat was an underdog very early in the playoffs. Not a big a underdog, but an underdog nonetheless. But this team has one very important thing that can out-do talent, it’s called savvy. Oh sure, Amat is talented. Candice Brown and McCarthy are as good as you’ll find, but I’ve never seen a team like Lynwood that can throw waves of players at you. It also helps that Amat coach Richard Wiard went LeDuc on another big name opponent. Watch as much high school hoop as me and you’ll know we have two of the very best in Wiard and LeDuc in this Valley. They’re worth 5-points on their own.

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Is the SGV about to win another CIF title in soccer? Bassett thinks so …


The Olympians have every reason to celebrate.

It’s down to two – Bassett and Baldwin Park advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals with wins on Tuesday. Move over Damien and Mountain View, somebody else might be joining you among Valley’s elite.

QUICK ARAM THOUGHT: If you haven’t seen a playoff soccer game, you’re missing out. You may not be a soccer fan, just like how I despise hockey, but you can’t beat the excitement and desperation of these playoff games. Nice job BP and Bassett!

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First sign of Dodger futility …


I say this experiment lasts two weeks.

READ THE DISCLAIMER BELOW BEFORE YOU START CRYING.

Dodgers skip Grady Little announced that Ralph Furcal will bat leadoff, ahead of John Pierrre. Let it be heard that Aram is stating on February 22 that this is the first of many maneuvers that will keep one of the NL’s top teams home for the playoffs. Why sign one of the top leadoff hitters in the game if you’re going to bat him second? All Pierre is, is a leadoff hitter who can rundown almost anything in the field. His arm sucks and he’s got no pop. Please save your finger energy if you’re going to say that Furcal is the better leaoff candidate because he’s got the better OBP. I don’t want to hear it – Pierre consistently ranks among the league leaders in HITS!!!! He’s one of the top bunters, too. What are you going to do? Hope Furcal hits one out or gets on, and then have Pierre bunt him over? Pierre at the top with Furcal batting second is a lot more appealing than the way Little has it. Or even Pierre leadoff and Russell Martin second is better. Again, why sign this guy if you’re not going to bat him leadoff? Another frustrating season beckons …

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This is my blog and the Dodgers are one of few things I love in this world. Therefore, the topic applies. If you understand that you can like the Dodgers and prep sports too, and that somehow they’re connected, then feel free to read/reply to this thread. Adios.

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Saturday night was made for girls hoops …


Sierra Vista is headed to Laguna Hills (The Real OC) for the semis.

Saturday night showdowns! Our girls will have to be road warriors.
Bishop Amat at Lynwood – Viva Las Chicas De Amat!
Sierra Vista vs. Laguna Hills (site TBA) – Coach Locklear’s boot camp works!
Covina at Marlborough – The Colts will join the rest of Pasadena in wondering why Nikki Speed doesn’t go to Muir.
Monrovia at Diamond Ranch – Nina, Eliza and Vince will get a test from M-Town.

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They’ve got the ‘Nuts?

Football, no playoffs. Boys basketball, no playoffs. Baseball last season, no playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lady Stangs are still alive in both hoops and soccer. Has Walnut become a girls sports empire?


Coach Lori Huckler’s program is always among the area’s best.


Coach Lorraine Hansen is the CEO of the area’s best girls soccer program.

… and I won’t even mention swimmer Rachel Grant and softball coach Jenny Fredrickson.

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This is how I feel right now …


The Bumpus hounds ate our boys basketball teams!

Damien, gone. Glendora, gone. South Hills, gone. Charter Oak, gone. Arroyo, gone. Nogales, gone. And so on … I had a feeling the playoffs would be like this. Thank heavens for Northview, San Dimas and whomever else won on Friday night. At least the SGV saw some teams make it to the second week of the postseason.


Maybe our girls hoops teams will bail us out just like a Christmas duck.

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Good times are here again? Glendora downs El Dorado …


Kyle Gordien dropped 21 on El Dorado.

RESULTS THUS FAR …
Glendora 60, El Dorado 52 (No matter how bad things get, LeDuc isn’t losing a wild card game)
South Hills 77, Citrus Hills (Kobe Santos scored 29 because he wanted to get out of the first round)
Santa Fe 61, West Covina 45 (Dawgs go bye bye early again)
Arroyo 60, Garden Grove 52 (Carmelo Morita had 18)
South El Monte 62, Capistrano Vly Chr. 47 (MVL ballin in the dance)

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HOME COOKING … (get to a game)


Rowland’s fans have it right. Lost in that crowd was Asst. Principal Bob Withers.

QUICK ARAM THOUGHT: You’d have thought we were on Tobacco Road and not right near a crater in Irwindale while at the office on Monday. Hoops fever was in full effect. Yep, it’s true. Anyway, my thought of the day was … What will El Dorado’s fans be thinking when Glendora shows up with 500-1,000 fans for a wild card game?

GET TO A GAME! MAKE OUR SGV GYMS HELL FOR THE INVADERS!!!

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HOOPS PLAYOFFS … this week


Can Damien shake last Thursday’s disaster?

BOYS HOOPS: Uh, how’s your confidence in area boys hoops? I won’t lie, mine isn’t high. I hope I’m wrong. The season was very entertaining, but that was SGV on SGV. Once our boys step into competition against the outside world, i.e. those who don’t know what it’s like to have an Alfredo’s just around every corner, it could be scary. Damien has been No. 1 in the area for quite some time and even though Sparty lost to G-Dora, I still think they represent the area’s best chance at making a run.

GIRLS HOOPS: The Amat Chicas of La Puente, as always, will have all eyes on them. I hope the Amat faithfful have plans to get involved and support this team early. The new division should see Amat in major battles starting in the second round. You Golden A supporters can’t just plan to catch up with the team at The Pyramid, because that might be too late. Covina and Diamond Ranch have had tremendous regular seasons and should make big noise in their respective divisions. C-Town has a nice Saturday nite home game coming up. Hopefully, the Rowdy Rooters show up in force. Also, don’t forget about Sierra Vista. The Dons have a first round bye in their division and could make a little run before it’s all said and done.

REQUEST: Get to a game!!!!!! Basketball gyms can be a crazy place when packed. And that could create a nice homecourt advantage for some of the SGV fans. There’s nothing like a playoff game in a packed gym. Good crowd support could be the difference between some of our teams pulling an off an upset, or not.

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P-Chase calls his shot; Glendora ruins Damien


Loyal insidesocal.com/aram blogger Philip Chase (right) went off against WestCo

UPSETS!
Glendora 62, Damien 60 (Damien’s share of the Sierra League crown goes bye bye … never trust LeDuc)
Bonita 59, Diamond Ranch 57 (D-Ranch is shakey, but still …)
Rowland 71, West Covina 57 (P-Chase goes for 30, 15 in the 4th … Raiders earn co-champ status)
Walnut upset Nogales (no score yet, but I know the result)

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Signing Day …


If you want to sign, you have to perfect the art of looking “hard” in photos.

Congrats go out to …
William Wallace, West Covina (Oregon)
Terrence Dennis, Diamond Ranch (Fresno State)
Jermaine Thomas, Duarte (Fresno State)
Mike Harris, Duarte (UCLA)
Daniel Harper, Damien (Georgetown)
Carlton Fletcher, Bishop Amat (Army)

Again, congratulations to all of you. I’m sure I speak for the entire SGV when I say we look forward to watching you all on Saturdays!!!! I had met most of these guys before, but it was great to see them all again and do some interviews and photo shoot at Tribune today. Everyone should be very proud of you for realizing your dream!!!

And to all those who didn’t sign … Remember, it’s not over. If you didn’t have the grades or test scores, you should know that the world is full of guys who didn’t have their stuff together after HS, but figured it out at a JC or elsewhere. It’s a setback, but nothing you can’t overcome. Also, if somebody didn’t think you were fast enough or big enough, the world is full of guys i.e. Jason David who were told the same things, but made it all the way to the show. If this applies to you, hopefully none of you give up on your dreams.

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BREAKING NEWS: Diamond Bar hires new football coach

John Martin, who coached from 2002 to 2005 at Rowland, has been named Diamond Bar’s head varsity football coach. Martin left Rowland after the 2005 season because he needed to work on his degree and could no longer coach/teach without it. He was an assistant for the Raiders this past season, coaching linebacker and tight ends. He replaces Nick Cuccia, who was fired soon after this past season.

QUICK ARAM THOUGHT: I like the hire. I think that Coach Martin did a good job at Rowland and he will probably get these kids to play hard for him. I still don’t think DB is anywhere close to Damien or Chino Hills. And then there’s always Chino and Glendora. The problem for DB is that they’re probably No. 5 or 6 in the league in terms of talent and then when you factor in the savvy coaching i.e. Roche, Pasqy and Morrison, I’m just not sure DB can expect much. Things just aren’t ever going to be the same with DRanch, Ayala and CH in the Brahmas’ backyard. I could be wrong … some people say there are football players on campus who don’t come out for the sport. Hoopster Elijah York comes to mind for me. He’s got at D-1 receiver’s body. I think Martin will do a good job, I just hope the Brahma fans don’t expect the world of him. He is stepping into a much better situation than the past few years.

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Trouble on the Ranch …


Aubrey Haynes is leaving the Ranch for St. Paul.

In the same month that Diamond Ranch senior defensive back Terrence Dennis committed to Fresno State, Panthers’ junior running back Aubrey Haynes left for St. Paul. This seems like a very conspicuous move, considering that D-Ranch has sent its share of players to D-1 factories.


Terrence Dennis is leaving the Ranch for Fresno State.

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LOVE IT: I’ve just seen the next coming …


Oregon prep phenom Kevin Love will play at UCLA next year.

… I don’t know if any of you caught the Mater Dei vs. Lake Oswego game on Saturday on Fox Sports, but if you’re a UCLA fan you probably saw it. Wow! I mean double WOW! The game was an opportunity for SoCal to see super recruit Kevin Love, who will be at UCLA. I had only heard about him, but I can’t believe what I saw. He’s deceptively athletic and looks like a tight end in terms of body. UCLA is absolutely set for a major run with this guy around campus.

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Top 5 sports principals in the Valley …

Sports are the backbone that hold high schools together.

You want to set the tone for a rewarding school year? Try having a good football season. It can lift a school’s collective feeling of pride higher than anything imaginable.

Continue that momentum with good basketball and soccer seasons, followed by success on the baseball or softball diamond, sprinkle in some championship swimming or track, and you’ve got the recipe for a high-spirited high school.

Strong athletic programs start at the top. Principals don’t run, pass, dribble or shoot, but they do the behind-the-scenes stuff necessary to ensure their school’s backbone is strong.

Good athletic programs need capable athletic directors and solid coaches. They also need administrative support and money. Again, it all starts at the top.

But for it to start at the top, it helps to have an actual sports fan running the show. Somebody who knows what they want and can determine whether they’re getting it.

The names on the list below are those types of people.

1. Judith “Judi” North, South Hills: It’s going to take something unforeseen for North to get ousted from the top spot.

My first encounter with North came at a South Hills football game, when I came across who I thought was the team mom. Only through conversation with somebody else on the sideline did I come to know that the woman urging her team on while following the line of scrimmage was none other than the school principal. Wow!
You get the feeling that North is given printouts of the San Antonio League standings alongside her daily reports about other things such as school budgets and test scores.

You see, what North understands is something that many of her peers just don’t get – it’s one thing to say “Sports are very important to our school” but it’s another thing entirely to prove it.

North has equipped South Hills with top coaches in each of the big three sports – baseball, basketball and football. There is rarely coaching turnover in any of these sports.

Because of this, South Hills has its share of high-profile programs and does it while having the smallest enrollment in the San Antonio League.

2. William F. “Rob” Roberts III, Los Altos: It was the second half of Los Altos’ nonleague football showdown against Damien this past fall when one of the school’s light fixtures went out, thus delaying the game at a critical juncture.

The look on Roberts’ face and his subsequent furor was similar to that of a couch potato’s wrath when the DirecTV signal goes out at 10:10 a.m. on a Sunday morning in the fall. Get the picture?

Roberts is a sports fan who just happens to run a school.

Like North, Roberts makes his school’s athletic programs a top priority. Also like North, Roberts is also a very vocal sideline observer at games.

The fact that sports are of major importance at Los Altos comes directly from Roberts, who is a former football coach.

The Conquerors own one of the best across-the- board athletic programs around. It’s not by accident.

3. Kathleen “Kathie” Wiard, Charter Oak: Her father is legendary former Arcadia football coach Dick Salter. Her brothers Tim and Tom are varsity head football coaches outside of the Valley.

As if those bloodlines weren’t enough, Wiard is married to Bishop Amat girls basketball coach Richard Wiard. You think she’s into athletics?

With family like that, it’s easy to see what the bottom line is – Charter Oak absolutely scored when it landed Wiard as principal.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Charter Oak as Wiard will likely oversee the retirement and subsequent replacement of legendary football coach Lou Farrar.

That saga could make for some interesting days around Charger Country, but there’s no doubt Wiard is well-equipped to handle it.

4. Fr. Patrick Travers, Damien: Unlike North or Roberts, you won’t find Travers rooting on the sideline at football games. That’s because he’ll be in the press box working the game clock.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Damien appears poised to become an athletic powerhouse over the next few years and much of that is due to Travers.

Although Travers has been around for five decades, it’s what he’s done lately that has set the stage for Damien to become the go-to spot for area boys athletes for decades to come.

Proof of this is already on display with the boys basketball team. They have a new gym, new attitude and presumably the best season in school history.

The football and soccer teams could be playing on a new FieldTurf surface sometime in the near future.

Damien’s minor sports programs have traditionally ranked among the area’s best, but Travers has set the stage for a mainstream sports explosion via top-notch facilities and a collection of coaching prodigies.

5. Dr. Merritt Hemenway, Bishop Amat: This might be the most controversial of the selections due to Amat’s floundering football program, which is still the school’s flagship sport. However, Hemenway’s school is home to the area’s most successful overall program – Amat’s girls basketball team.

Hemenway, a former basketball referee, displayed the boldness of a riverboat gambler by hiring football coach Mark Verti to run the school’s tradition rich football program.

Being at Amat, Hemenway must deal with the fact that most alumni view the football team’s record as a barometer for how the entire athletic program is doing. But once fans get past football, they’ll see that Hemenway’s shrewd hiring of Andy Nieto as baseball coach was also very impressive.

It should also be noted that Amat’s new gym and sports complex was erected under Hemenway’s watch.

Let the debate begin ….

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