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?


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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

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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