Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep deliver again; Wildcats win third straight championship, Kares win second straight

What a night for Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep, both knocking off the top seeds in their division. Monrovia beat Paraclete for its third straight championship and a possible state bowl berth, and Rio Hondo Prep did the same, winning its second straight title and 15th championship in school history.

TONIGHT RESULTS AND GAME STORIES
Mid-Valley Division championship
Monrovia 23, Paraclete 7
Northeast Division championship
Rio Hondo Prep 28, Mission College Prep 21

Highlights on Monrovia’s 3-peat with the Inland Insider, Tom Kiss

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Damien bigger, stronger, better than Keppel in 64-48 quarterfinal victory; Rowland not good enough against Thousand Oaks, 76-44

Damien’s Isaiah McCullough scores two of his 11 points on a put-back. Check out the rest of Keith Birmingham’s photo gallery.

By Fred J. Robledo, twitter.com/sgvnsports
There came a point when Keppel boys basketball coach Hung Duong threw up his hands and begged for someone to take a charge.

“When you’re getting man-handled on the boards, you’ve got to do something,” Duong said.

When Damien wasn’t knocking in three-point shots or scoring in transition, they were cleaning up the boards in a 64-48 victory over Keppel in the quarterfinals of the Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista boys basketball tournament on Thursday.

“We found out physically we’re not able to play at this level,” Duong said. “We gave up too many putbacks and did a poor job of boxing out. You can’t do that against a team like that and expect to win.”

Damien guards Jeremy Hemsley and Jared Dizon each finished with a game-high 16 points. Dizon also had eight rebounds and sophomore Isaiah McCullough finished with 11 points as the Spartans improved to 3-0.

Damien will face California, a 63-57 winner over Claremont, in the semifinals tonight at Sierra Vista at 7:30 p.m.

In the earlier semifinal, Thousand Oaks, a 76-44 quarterfinal winner over Rowland, will take on Troy at 6 p.m.

The winners will meet for the championship on Saturday at Covina High at 7:30 p.m.

Keppel (2-1) fell behind 15 points early in the second quarter, but Brandon Fujii’s steal and basket cut Damien’s lead to 29-20.

But the Spartans closed the half on a 10-0 run and started the third quarter with 12 straight points to extend the run to 22 consecutive and a 51-22 lead that put the game out of reach.

“I thought we played really good for 20 minutes, which is about eight minutes more than we played so far this year, so that’s an improvement,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “It takes time to be able to be consistent for 32 minutes. We’re working on it, but we’re young and have a lot of young guys out there making decisions for us.”

Damien graduated 6-foot-8 Chris Reyes, but the Spartans made up for their lack of size by attacking the rim.
Of Hemsley’s 16 points, nine came on foul shots.

“We’re going to have to scrap a lot this year,” Hemsley said. “We don’t really have a big so we have to help each other rebound. We’re more fast paced so hopefully we get easier baskets in transition.”

Keppel fell behind by 31 points, but it kept battling, getting a team-high 11 points from Kyler Lee.
Spencer Briglio finished with nine points and 6-foot-4 sophomore center Bertram Make finished with eight.

“I’m proud of our kids for not folding in the second half,” Duong said. “It could have been a 40-point game.

“We’ve got a lot of work, but Damien’s a well-coached team with a lot of solid basketball players. They do a good job of getting in the key and kicking it out to shooters. And they rebound well, so give them credit, they’re going to have a fine season.”

THURSDAY’S RESULTS
Quarterfinals

Thousand oaks 78, Rowland 44
Troy 71, Colony 54
Damien 64, Keppel 48
California 63, Claremont 57
Consolation
South Hills 67, La Puente 50
Glendora 61, Baldwin Park 34
Covina 73, Diamond Ranch 60
Walnut 75, Don Lugo 68
Sierra Vista 50, Garey 47
Edgewood 49, Azusa 45
LA Garfield 56, West Covina 51
Arroyo 64, Jurupa Hills 52

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Have you heard of Pacifica University — In Covina? It’s a sports college with an emphasis on sports-related degrees

Say What? Pacifica University has taken over the old campus at Western Christian High in Covina, near the campus of Royal Oak Middle School. Baseball coach Matt Stark explained that it’s a college designed for sports with an emphasis on sports degrees. Pacifica will play an Independent schedule against NCAA D-2, D-3 and NAIA teams — mostly on the road with home games at nearby locations. We’re working on a story as we learn more about the university, but browse their website, this could be a terrific outlet for area athletes.

For a better understanding, check out the presidents message: Welcome to Pacifica University, your gateway to the future, where many opportunities await you! As the only true sports university in the U.S. we focus on programs which prepares our students to enter the $650 billion a year sports industry. Pacifica offers associate, bachelors and masters degrees along with several PhD programs. Pacifica classes are a combination of on campus, on line and hybrid giving students more flexibility in scheduling. The University offers day, evening and weekend classes and programs. Education/Certificate programs are also available to help high school seniors and lifelong learners to enter the various areas of personal enrichment in sports leading to occupations, careers and work advancement.

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Prep Roundup: Damien and Rowland headline Elite 8 at Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista Hoops Tourney Tonight

To phone in results, call 626-544-0991 or 626-544-0992

BOYS BASKETBALL
SIERRA VISTA/BALDWIN PARK WINTER TIPOFF TOURNAMENT
Second round
Pool play
South Hills 66, Arroyo 56

Leading South Hills (1-1) in scoring in the victory was junior Jacob Estrada 17 points. Steven Rubin-Woods had 13 points and three assists. Despite a strong effort by Primativo Gomez, who had a game-high 20 points, Arroyo dropped to 0-2. “I thought the students played hard,” South Hills coach Marc Hart said. “This being my first year coaching at South Hills I thought the team gave a great offensive and defensive performance.”

Wednesday’s round-robin results
California 64, Garey 23
Baldwin Park 61, Sierra Vista 42
Covina 72, Jurupa Hills 54
Keppel 66, Edgewood 13
La Puente 61, Garfield 42
Diamond Ranch 84, Azusa 22
Don Lugo 76, West covina 68

THURSDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
At Baldwin Park

Rowland vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Colony, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Damien vs. Keppel, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. California, 7:30 p.m.

BOSCO TECH
TOURNAMENT
Pool play
Los Altos 61, San Gabriel 41

Christian Espinoza scored 21 points and also had six assists and three steals to lead Los Altos (2-0) past San Gabriel (0-2).
Sal Lopez added 12 points and David Tolmachoff had eight points and six rebounds.

NONLEAGUE
Whittier Christian 63, Anaheim 47

Thanks to a 21-point second quarter the Heralds easily got past Anaheim in nonleague play.
Tyler Chacon led Whittier Christian (2-0) with 20 points and nine rebounds while Stephen Nolin totaled 14 points and nine rebounds. Colin Ashworth contributed 10 points and Ryan Esslinger grabbed 8 rebounds and scored three points.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Bishop Amat 59, Cantwell Sacred Heart 20

Leading the Lancers (2-0) to the win was Mauriana Clayton scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Paulina Santana contributed with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. With the loss Cantwell Sacred Heart dropped to 1-1.
Charter Oak 59, Northview 28
The Chargers (1-0) were led in scoring by Erin Houston, who had 16 points. Alsion Strycula contributed nine points.
Northview dropped its season opener.

BOYS SOCCER
NONLEAGUE
South Hills 2, Troy 0

Anthony Villa Gomez scored and Steve Robledo headed home a cross from Grayson Iwasaki to lead the Huskies to a win at Troy. Iwasaki was credited with both assists as the Huskies improved to 2-0-1.

GIRLS SOCCER
NONLEAGUE
San Marino 8, Westridge 1

The Titans (1-0) started the season with the win over Westridge. Senior Hope Welder scored four goals with Jordyn Duncan adding two.

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For former Covina Colt Ainsworth, Grass is Greener at Monrovia, where he will play for a CIF title


By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?

Not exactly.

Ge Vontray Ainsworth didn’t transfer from Covina High School to Monrovia to get a shot at a CIF-Southern Section title, but it may work out that way.

Ainsworth, who came to the Wildcats after his family moved into the area from Covina, has been a key contributor for the Wildcats, who look to win their third consecutive Mid-Valley Division title when they host Paraclete on Friday at 7 p.m.

“I’m happy that we even made it this far,” said Ainsworth, who was on the losing side last season when Monrovia beat Covina in the semifinals. “I’m going to be happy if we win it.

“It will be my first ring, and I’ll be able to say I have one.”

Ainsworth, who rushed for 1,464 yards and nine touchdowns for Covina last season, has 1,155 yards and 14 scores for the Wildcats.

He’s also been a dominant force on defense, where he leads the Wildcats with 14 1/2 sacks, including four last week to help Monrovia advance to the finals with a 42-31 victory over Sierra Canyon.

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The Tribune Football season is over, it’s time to select the all-area team, player of the year and coach of the year ….

The Tribune all-area football team includes a player of the year, coach of the year, defensive player of the year and 25 of the most deserving players that fill out an all area team. It usually includes a QB, 2RBs, 3WRs, 5 OL, Placekicker, Punter, All-Purpose, 3DL, 3LB, 3DB, Safety. We will sort it all out this week, but I’m always curious what you think?

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West Covina’s Alexis Valenzuela aiming for CIF-SS tennis title

by Aram Tolegian, staff writer

West Covina High School girls tennis standout Alexis Valenzuela is not what you would consider to be classically trained.

The just-turned 17-year-old didn’t grow up on country club courts. Nor did she have a family who could afford the very best private coaches.

Yet when the top 16 players in the CIF-Southern Section meet today at the Seal Beach Tennis Club to start deciding who’s the No. 1 player in the section, Valenzuela will be among them … for the third consecutive year.

Not bad for a kid who learned the game by starting in a Covina Parks and Recreation tennis camp and honed her skills by playing on local high school courts or at the public park.

Sure, Valenzuela has had her share of private coaching … in Lakewood. But generally, the top players in the Southern Section don’t come from places like West Covina.

“After my parents put me into it, I fell in love with it,” Valenzuela said of tennis. “I do love playing basketball. I did play for the high school, but I just realized that tennis is where I needed to be.”

Valenzuela started playing at age 7 after she first tried baseball and didn’t like it. By the time she was 10, she was ranked in the Southern California top 10 for her age group.

Realizing she was on to something big, Valenzuela’s family got her a private coach and her father Ernie did his own bit of coaching. Once at West Covina, she has been under the tutelage of Bulldogs coach Mike McConville, who is adamant that Valenzuela is the best girls athlete in school history.

It’s an upbringing that has certainly been good enough to get Valenzuela to this point of her career, but it’s not quite to the level of what most of the other top 16 girls enjoyed on their way up.

“They can afford the top coaches, we can’t really afford the top coaches,” Valenzuela said.

West Covina is not known for its tennis. It’s a football school and every other sport comes second. Valenzuela has done her best to change that, however.

She’s won the league title and been named league MVP all four years. Valenzuela didn’t lose a league match in her final three seasons.

“It was my goal since freshman year to try and throw a four-peat as league champ and MVP,” Valenzuela said. “It’s (tennis) not that popular at West Covina because they’ve never been known for tennis. They’ve been known for football and not tennis. It’s a new thing for them.”

Valenzuela has already secured a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, where she plans to attend nursing school and become a nurse practitioner. There could be a bid at a professional career mixed in if things break right.

For now, though, her focus is on ending her storied high school career with a bang.

That means surviving today’s matches and returning on Thursday when the field of 16 is reduced to four and a battle to be the top player in the Southern Section will begin in earnest.

“I know what to expect,” Valenzuela said. “But each year, there’s different girls. I still don’t know who I am going to play. I can’t be overconfident. I need to play my game, whoever I play.”

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Coaching legend John Strycula passes

By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

When it came to being a football coach, very few in the area did it better than John Strycula.

The local legend won league titles at Charter Oak and Glendora high schools before putting Citrus College of the map in the 1960s and 1970s, including winning four consecutive titles in the Mission Conference, which was always regarded as the top conference in the state.

Strycula, who was inducted into the California Community Colleges Football Coaches Hall of Fame, died this past Friday. He was 86.

“He was top of the line,” said his son, John Strycula, himself a former football coach. “He won where ever he went. He always put great teams on the field. His record spoke for itself.”

Strycula was the first football coach at Charter Oak, and won three league titles for the then Lancers. He moved on to Glendora in the early 1960s and led the Tartans to three league titles.

He then went to Citrus, turning the Owls into one of the top programs in the state during 1970s, winning four consecutive Mission League titles, including back-to-back seasons in the middle of the decade when the Owls went 17-1-2 with a bowl victory.

Strycula was 120-60-7 in 19 seasons at Citrus, leading the Owls to 10 conference championships and three bowl games.

His 1975 and `76 teams are considered by many as the Owls’ best. Citrus went 9-0-1 in winning the Mission Conference and tied College of the Canyons in the Mission Bowl.

The Owls followed it up with an 8-1-1 record in 1975, with another Mission Conference title before routing Santa Barbara City, 24-0, in the Mission Bowl.

Strycula retired following the 1985 season and was inducted in the CCCFCA Hall of Fame this past March.

Services for Strycula will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Beaumont Presbyterian Church, which is located at 702 Euclid Avenue.

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Prep Roundup: Damien faces Keppel in quarterfinals on Thursday; Glendora knocked out by California

Glendora-California photo gallery

CALIFORNIA SHOCKS GLENDORA IN OT: California High School began its boys basketball season with a 52-49 overtime victory against Glendora in the third annual Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park “Winter Tip-Off” Tournament on Tuesday night. The Condors scored two quick baskets to start the overtime period. Robert Amaro scored, then Andrew Barber added a basket off a steal by Ryan Schroll.

SIERRA VISTA/BALDWIN PARK TOURNAMENTPool play
Damien 63, Diamond Ranch 51
Damien were led by sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley and senior guard Jared Dizon with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
Rowland 54, Garfield 30
Rowland easily handled Garfield and will advance to next face Thousand Oaks on Thursday. Leading the Raiders (3-0) in scoring was Chris Arzadon with 14 points and four rebounds and Joe Dionision contributed with 12 points and four assists. Rowland built up a 29-8 halftime lead and was able to hold Garfield (0-2) scoreless in the second quarter.
Jacky Tu rounded out the scoring for Rowland with seven points and three assists. Dave Perez led the scoring for the Bulldogs with eight points.
Tuesday’s Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista round-robin results
Rowland 54, Garfield 30
California 52, Glendora 49, OT
Troy 76, Covina 53
Keppel 66, Walnut 58
Colony 79, South Hills 61
Thousand Oaks 84, Don Lugo 62
Claremont 79, Baldwin Park 59

THURSDAY’S “LIKELY” QUARTERFINALS
At Baldwin Park

Rowland vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Colony, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Damien vs. Keppel, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. California, 7:30 p.m.

BOSCO TECH TOURNAMENT
Pool play
Los Altos 63, Rosemead 39

Los Altos led 14-6 after one quarter of play and never were challenged after that. Los Altos (1-0) were led by sophomore guard Christian Espinoza with a game-high 20 points. Senior guard Sal Lopez and senior forward Danny Ahn chipped in with 10 and eight points, respectively. Rosemead (0-2) was led by Everado Camacho with 13 points.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
Schurr 45, Baldwin Park 39: It might only have been an early season game, but the Baldwin Park High and Schurr High girls basketball teams battled like it was the postseason Tuesday night. Schurr, behind a game-high 14 points from junior guard Elizabeth Castillo, defeated the visiting Braves 45-39 in a season-opening nonleague game for both teams.

NONLEAGUE
South Hills 57, Sierra Vista 25

South Hills put the game away in the first half leading by a score of 35-11. Leading the Huskies (2-3) in scoring was Brittany Wang with 16 points and five steals and Sarah Madrigal contributed with 11 points and had six rebounds. Imani Payton chipped in with nine points for South Hills. Sierra Vista (0-5) got their scoring from Evelyn Estrada with six points as Maritz Ortiz, Karina Diaz and Kristen Villamor each added four points for the Dons.

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PrepPrep Roundup: Rowland dominates La Puente; Bishop Amat girls open season with win over St. Lucy’s

To share results in the paper and on the SGV Tribune prep page, phone in results to 626-544-0991 or 626-544-0992.

BOYS BASKETBALL
SIERRA VISTA/BALDWIN PARK TOURNAMENT
Pool play
Rowland 70, La Puente 25

Rowland High School will advance in pool play and will take on Garfield of Los Angeles tomorrow at 3 p.m.The Raiders (2-0) were led by senior guard Joe Dionisio who scored a game-high 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and four 4 steals. Senior center DJ Jackson added 12 points, six rebounds (3 offensive, 3 defensive), two assists, while senior forward Saeed Montoya chipped in with eight points and two steals.La Puente (0-1) received 12 points from Matt Ageulo and six points from Daniel Martinez.

BALDWIN PARK/SIERRA VISTA BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Monday’s round-robin results

Walnut 80, Edgewood 13
Colony 75, Arroyo 43
Claremont 86, Sierra Vista 43
Glendora 76, Garey 30
Damien 89, Azusa 21
Troy 69, Jurupa Hills 54

Tuesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Walnut vs. Keppel, 3 p.m.
Colony vs. South Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Don Lugo vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. Baldwin Park, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Rowland vs. Garfield, 3 p.m.
Damien vs. Diamond Ranch, 4:30 p.m.
Glendora vs. California, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Covina, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Keppel vs. Edgewood, 3 p.m.
Garfield vs. La Puente, 4:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Azusa, 6 p.m.
West Covina vs. Don Lugo, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Garey vs. California, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. Arroyo, 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin Park vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Covina vs. Jurupa Hills, 7:30 p.m.

NONLEAGUE
Santa Fe 54, Rosemead 31

Santa Fe opened the season with a convincing victory over the Panthers. After leading 20-13 at halftime, the Chiefs outscored Rosemead 21-8 in the third quarter to pull away. Junior forward Jonathon Parral had a game-high 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Junior center Christian Perez added seven points, eight rebounds (5 offensive, 3 defensive) and four assists, while sophomore guard Elijah McElroy chipped in with seven points and four steals. Rosemead was led by Ethan Chan’s 13 points, while Steve Sian-Migul and Jacob Garcia each scored five points
Santa Fe hosts King High School from Sydney, Australia next Monday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL
NONLEAGUE
Bishop Amat 55, St. Lucy’s 26

The Lancers opened their season and cruised to victory over the Regents (0-2).
“For it being the first game, we played a little bit ragged but, that’s to be expected,” said Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard. Leading the Lancers (1-0) was junior guard Janae Chamois who started her first game after coming off the bench her first two seasons. Chamois finished the game with 15 points and three steals.
Lancers senior forward Mauriana Clayton added 11 points and nine rebounds, while junior guard Paulina Santana chipped in with nine points. St. Lucy’s was led by junior guard Mary Serafin with nine points and junior guard Alyssa Lim with six points. Bishop Amat is back on the court on Wednesday in a nonleague contest as the Lancers travel to Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello.

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Monrovia, Rio Hondo Prep and La Serna ready to chase titles this weekend

Keith Birmingham’s SIGHTS OF THE GAME

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

For guys like Monrovia High School football coach Ryan Maddox and Rio Hondo Prep’s Ken Drain, the CIF-Southern Section luncheon held the Monday before the championship games have seemingly become an annual tradition.

Even La Serna was back at the luncheon for a second consecutive season on Monday when all the teams in all the championship games kicked off the biggest week of the season by dining together at The Grand in Long Beach.

“No it doesn’t get old, this is a great thing,” said Drain, who has been to seven championship luncheons as head coach of the Kares. “The menu is pretty much the same. It’s usually really good. I enjoy it.”

Rio Hondo Prep was represented by Drain and team captains Colby Rivera, Jake Holguin, Rico Perez and Jared White. The Kares (11-1) host Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo on Friday night in the Northeast Division championship. Kickoff is 7:30.

The game marks the second time this season the teams will have played. Mission Prep beat Rio Hondo Prep, 47-14, on Aug. 31 and is favored to deny the Kares their second straight division title and Drain’s fifth overall.

“I think we’ll be a lot better, but they are a really good team,” Drain said. “I think we’re a lot better than we were and we didn’t play very well in that game. We’re looking forward to it.”

La Serna is taking a more businesslike approach this season after last year’s championship game resulted in a disastrous loss to West Covina. The Lancers (12-1) take on Downey (10-3) on Saturday night in the Southeast Division final at either Cerritos College or Cal State Fullerton.

The Lancers were represented at Monday’s luncheon by captains Frankie Palmer, John McFarland, Isaiah Osorio and Michael Dingillo.

“It’s a great honor to be around the great teams, especially the captains that worked so hard to get their teams there,” Palmer said.

After having been through the distractions of last season’s trip to the finals, Palmer feels the Lancers are much better equipped to focus fully on the game.

“Since we were there a year ago, it gives us that experience because a lot of the team returned,” Palmer said. “But we still have that 84-21 (loss to West Covina last year) still on our minds. Just because we beat West Covina (this year), it’s not out of our minds yet. We still have unfinished business to win the championship.”

Monrovia is in its fourth consecutive Mid-Valley Division championship game and bidding for its third straight title. It’s getting so that Maddox and his team should have a permanent table at the luncheon.

“I wish I could say it’s going to be like this every year, but I’ve been around this game long enough to know that it isn’t guaranteed and isn’t necessarily going to be the case,” Maddox said. “We’re just grateful to be back The kids are focused and trying to finish the goal that we started way back in fall.”

The Wildcats were represented Monday by linebackers Brett Walsh and George Frazier V, and wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Craft. Monrovia (12-1) hosts Paraclete (12-1) on Friday night. The game pits the division’s top two teams and will provide the final verdict on whether the Southern Section’s plan to beef up the division in order to make things harder on Monrovia worked.

If Monrovia wins on Friday, it stands a good chance to be selected to a state championship bowl-game qualifier that would take place next week.

With so much on the line in terms of history and the chance to have its season continue, you’d think the Wildcats may be caught up in the moment.

But Maddox said that isn’t the case.

“We have to focus on Paraclete,” Maddox said. “We have no control over the other stuff. We have no control over a state bowl game. All we can control is what we do today in practice and we’ve got to take advantage of that.”

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Damien, Glendora, Claremont and Wanut win openers in 32-team Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista boys basketball tournament Monday

We’ll update the brackets each day and ask that coaches phone in results with information on the game to 626-544-0991 or 626-594-0992. Also, twitter me your finals so I can retweet them @sgvnsports

BALDWIN PARK/SIERRA VISTA BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Monday’s round-robin results
At Baldwin Park

Walnut 80, Edgewood 13
Colony 75, Arroyo 43
Claremont 86, Sierra Vista 43
Glendora 76, Garey 30
Damien 89, Azusa 21
Troy 69, Jurupa Hills 54

Tuesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Walnut vs. Keppel, 3 p.m.
Colony vs. South Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Don Lugo vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. Baldwin Park, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Rowland vs. Garfield, 3 p.m.
Damien vs. Diamond Ranch, 4:30 p.m.
Glendora vs. California, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Covina, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Keppel vs. Edgewood, 3 p.m.
Garfield vs. La Puente, 4:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Azusa, 6 p.m.
West Covina vs. Don Lugo, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Garey vs. California, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. Arroyo, 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin Park vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Covina vs. Jurupa Hills, 7:30 p.m.

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Bonita girls cross country follow CIF title with a Division II state title in Fresno

By Keith Lair, SGVN

FRESNO – There could have been a big letdown.

The Bonita High School girls cross country team won its first CIF-Southern Section championship last week at Mt. SAC and had a big celebration.

But the Bearcats did anything but let down. They ran the seventh-fastest team time of the day to win the CIF State Division II championship going away on Saturday on Fresno’s Woodward Park 5,000-meter course. It was Bonita’s first state title as well.

“We got this far, so we said, `Why not see another championship?’ ” senior Marissa Scott said.

Experts called the Bearcats’ team time of 94 minutes, 10 seconds the biggest surprise of the meet. The Bearcats won the title by 60 points.

Bonita had 83 with Cathedral Catholic of San Diego at 143.

“The girls ran it perfectly,” coach Lonny Carr said. “They did everything perfectly; their mental preparation, their physical preparation. I have no complaints. We wanted this. We wanted CIF, then why not state? We got that.

“What an amazing year.”

Last year, Bonita finished 13th in this meet.

“We knew what we could be,” Carr said. “This group of girls was ready for this since last year in track. That’s when we turned the corner.”

Scott, competing in her fourth state meet, was the Bearcats’ top finisher but not the top Valley finisher in the race.

That honor went to Bishop Amat sophomore Emily Hubert, who was sixth in 18:20.

“It was a lot better than last year,” she said. “It feels real good.

I trained to do well and I’m proud that I came through. Last year I tried to forget.”

She was 89th last year.

Azusa sophomore Roxanne Valle finished 12th in 18:41. It was the first time an Aztecs girl had competed in the meet.

“It was a challenge,” she said.

Bonita’s Scott was 10th in 18:30.

“I was really nervous before the race,” she said. “I knew we trained all season for this and I knew we would pull it off because I had a lot of confidence in my teammates. They get their best effort.”

The Bearcats never lost to a Division 3 team this season.

“They were just outstanding,” Carr said “That big margin (of victory), that’s how good we are. I’m extremely proud of these young ladies. I’m overwhelmed right now.”

Carr will lose only Scott next year. The other six starters are returning.

“We used to try to come here every year,” Carr said. “Now we’re one of the best. We will do everything we can to live up to that.”

Marissa’s sister, sophomore Kailyn, was 17th in 18:49. Freshman Kelsey Creese was 21st in 18:52, junior Mackenize Landa was 23rd in 18:53 and Jordin Prado finished 34th in 19:06.

“We got better after (two miles),” Carr said “We trained for that. We moved up. After that hill, we maintained the pace and held it until the last turn and then let it go.”

The Bearcats’ first six runners were in before Cathedral’s fifth runner.

It arguably was the Valley’s biggest-ever day in the 36th edition of the meet. Arcadia won its second Division I title in three years and California finished second. The Apaches, led by a second-place finish from Estevan De La Rosa and third-place effort from Mitchell Pratt, won by 74 points and ran the second-fastest team time on the course. La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre won the Division IV race. The Flintridge Prep boys finished second in Division V, losing by one point, and Mayfield was third in Division IV.

Arroyo senior Samuel Garcia was ninth in Division II in 15:27. Los Altos Mark Huizar was 15th in 15:48 in Division III. He was the first Los Altos athlete to run in the meet.

“It’s a big honor,” he said. “It just feels great to have all of the faculty support me. I felt like dying out at the end. I left it all on the field.”

Arcadia won it by putting five runners within the top 30. The Apaches ran a team time of 77:00, second only to the 2010 Arcadia team’s 76:12. The Apaches were second last year.

La Salle’s De La Torre made an amazing comeback to win the Division IV race in 15:30.

He trailed John Lawson of Sir Francis Drake, who won the title last year, by 15 seconds with a mile to go., He passed Lawson with 50 yards to go for the win.

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Not meant to be for West Covina and San Dimas, ending football season in East San Gabriel Valley

West Covina and San Dimas both led 14-0, but neither could hold on, ending the high school football season in the Tribune area. Monrovia will host Paraclete in next Friday’s Mid-Valley Division title game and La Serna will face Downey on Saturday for the Southeast title at a site to be determined.

Below: Tom Kiss’ highlights and postgame interviews of West Covina-La Serna


La Serna-West Covina photo gallery

Friday’s results and game stories
Southeast Division

La Serna 35, West Covina 17
Downey 35, Santa Fe 3
Mid-Valley Division
Monrovia 42, Sierra Canyon 31
Paraclete 28, San Dimas 20
Northeast Division
Rio Hondo Prep 42, St. Monica 14

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West Covina’s Raging Hull hoping to make life miserable for La Serna

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

Move over, turkey. There’s something else West Covina High School football fans should be thankful for on Thanksgiving

Noodles.

Only this Noodles isn’t a food item that will be found on anyone’s table this Thanksgiving. Rather, it’s Antonio “Noodles” Hull, a sophomore standout who has put the Bulldogs on his back this postseason and has them a win away from playing for a third consecutive CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship.

West Covina (8-4) visits La Serna (11-1) in the semifinals today at California High. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“I didn’t expect to have this big of a role this year,” Hull said. “I knew I was going to play a part, but I didn’t think that I’d have this role right now.

“I like it. It’s cool.”

So what exactly is Hull’s role? Well, that seemingly changes each week, and if you want to get specific it sometimes changes every series.

It’s no secret injuries have sabotaged the Bulldogs time and again, but Hull has been the one constant head coach Mike Maggiore and his staff turn to in time of need.

When starting quarterback Jon Najera has been lost to injuries at several points this season, Hull has played quarterback. When Najera has been healthy but running backs DeShon Love or Josh Best have not, Hull has stepped in and provided West Covina with the home run threat that’s made the program so successful the past three seasons.

None of it appears to be too much for Hull to handle. Perhaps that’s because his reputation preceded him long before he arrived on campus at West Covina.

Dating back to his youth football days with the Compton Vikings of the Snoop Youth Football League, Hull always was considered to be destined for football greatness. His youth football highlight reel on YouTube was posted on this newspaper’s prep sports blogs and tantalized West Covina fans before he even stepped on campus for his first day of school.

Hull had several high schools interested in his services during his eighth-grade year. Private schools like Cathedral wanted him, as did Gardena Serra and Narbonne. But when Hull’s family moved from Gardena to West Covina prior to his freshman year, there was no doubt about where he would play his high school ball.

“West Covina is a good program and I figured it fit me,” Hull said. “There were other schools, but when we moved to West Covina, I felt like this was the place.

“I’m getting coached by one of the best coaches in the Valley. That always helps.”

Hull has been as advertised. After having to wait until he turned 14, he was brought up to the varsity team last season and stood watch while a dynamic senior class won its second consecutive Hacienda League and Southeast championships.

This past offseason, Hull battled with Najera for the starting quarterback job and ultimately started the season playing a myriad of roles on offense.

The playoffs have been Hull’s breakout party, though.

Against Paramount in the first round, Hull rushed for 130 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns. In the second round, he led West Covina past Muir by rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown.

On Friday, you can expect to see Hull play quarterback and running back. Oh yeah, and safety when West Covina is on defense. Keep in mind he’s still only 15. Hull admitted the wear and tear of his first varsity season is getting to him, but there’s no turning back now with a championship in his sights.

“It’s always something,” Hull said. “I’m hurt right now. I’ve been injured every game. My body is a little banged up. But being back there with Aaron Salgado and my teammates, it’s just given me the extra strength.

“We want to win.”

No matter what happens Friday, West Covina looks like a good bet to make more postseason noise in the future since he’ll be around for two more seasons. Hull’s hoping to solely play quarterback the next two seasons and see where it gets him with college recruiters.

“I’ve got two years,” Hull said. “I think if I grow a few inches, get a little better and learn how to read defenses a little more, I think I can get recruited as a quarterback. Somebody will give me a shot.”

And in case you’re wondering where the nickname “Noodles” came from, it was given to Hull by his father and based on the fictional prohibition-era Jewish gangster character named David “Noodles” Aaronson played by actor Robert DeNiro in the 1984 film “Once Upon a Time in America.”

And despite the film being made more than 20 years before he was born and the obvious differences between himself and a fictional Jewish gangster from the 1920′s, Hull doesn’t mind the nickname one bit.

“He was a leader,” Hull said. “So that’s why my dad gave that nickname. I’m okay with “Noodles.” I’ve been called that all my life.

“One day I might stop it, but I’m fine with it for now.”

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The Edgewood Boys are back in town, sort of …. Green and Gold Trojans are now the Blue and Gold Lions

Edgewood’s most famous basketball alum, Mike Powell, is also the world record holder in the long jump…

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
Glendora, Damien, Rowland and Covina are just some of the area powerhouses scheduled to participate in the 24-team Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park boys basketball tournament that begins Monday.

But there is also a blast from the past — Edgewood High School — making its return to varsity basketball for the first time since 1988.

Edgewood was a well-known area high school that competed in the Sierra and Valle Vista League’s for many years, winning back-to-back CIF baseball titles in the 70s as well as producing some of the best wrestling teams in area history.

Mike Powell, the world record holder in the long jump, was a slam-dunking machine for Edgewood in the early 1980s, but the school closed its doors and merged with West Covina in 1989 as Edgewood became a junior high school.

But now its back and things have changed.

Edgewood is blue and gold instead of green and gold and its nickname is the Lions instead of the Trojans.

For coach Damien Tate, who played basketball at Edgewood until the school merged with West Covina, said it feels like more of an expansion squad than old Edgewood.

“Weird ain’t the word,” Tate said. “It’s hard to get use to the colors and the name. Blue and gold? The Lions? That doesn’t feel like Edgewood.

“But we’re starting over from scratch. This isn’t Edgewood the way it use to be. It’s a new era.”
There are only 600 students in the school and no seniors. The first senior class isn’t until 2014.

There is also no football team, though West Covina head coach Mike Maggiore and former South Hills coach Steve Bogan, who own a combined seven CIF titles as coaches — both graduated from Edgewood.

Softball and swimming also will compete on the varsity level this season, but Edgewood has a long way to go before it starts fielding more athletic programs.

Edgewood re-entered the CIF Southern Section as an independent playing a freelance schedule with hopes of joining the Montview or Valle Vista League in the coming years.

For Tate, he knows it’s going to be a learning and humbling experience.

Edgewood opens the Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park tournament at Baldwin Park on Monday against Walnut at 3 p.m., followed
by West San Gabriel Valley power Keppel on Wednesday.

The Lions hope that 5-foot-8 guard Daniel Aguilar and 5-foot-6 Cameron Lee can lead the way, but Tate expects a lot of bumps in the road.

“I don’t want our guys focused on wins and losses, my main goal is to teach these guys to work hard,” Tate said. “We’re not anything close to what you would call a basketball school. We’re looking for a different kind of player, a kid that has a never quit attitude. At the end of the day it’s about competing and working hard. If they give me that we can live with whatever the result will be.”

For Tate, it’s a fun opportunity and a different point in his career.

Tate played college basketball at San Francisco State, worked in radio and television and was employed by Warner Brothers for 14 years before being laid off two years ago.

“I still live in West Covina and always wanted to get back into coaching,” Tate said. “For it to be Edgewood, that’s special.”

BALDWIN PARK/SIERRA VISTA BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Monday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Edgewood vs. Walnut, 3 p.m.
Thousand Oaks vs. West Covina, 4:30 p.m.
Azusa vs. Damien, 6 p.m.
Jurupa Hills vs. Troy, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
La Puente vs. Rowland, 3 p.m.
Arroyo vs. Colony, 4:30 p.m.
Claremont vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Garey vs. Glendora, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Walnut vs. Keppel, 3 p.m.
Colony vs. South Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Don Lugo vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. Baldwin Park, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Rowland vs. Garfield, 3 p.m.
Damien vs. Diamond Ranch, 4:30 p.m.
Glendora vs. California, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Covina, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Keppel vs. Edgewood, 3 p.m.
Garfield vs. La Puente, 4:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Azusa, 6 p.m.
West Covina vs. Don Lugo, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Garey vs. California, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. Arroyo, 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin Park vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Covina vs. Jurupa Hills, 7:30 p.m.

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Thanksgiving Practice then the long road to Paraclete for San Dimas, who hope to knock off the No. 1 Spirits

By Aram Tolegian

San Dimas High School football coach Bill Zernickow isn’t worried about much this week.

In theory, having a long road trip on a bus packed with players with full bellies from Thanksgiving festivities the day before would be cause for any coach trying to avoid a slugging start in such a critical game.

But not for Zernickow, whose Saints (11-1) take on top-seeded Paraclete (11-1) in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division semifinals on Friday night at Antelope Valley College. Kickoff is 7:30p.m.

“I don’t think the road trip means much to us, we don’t care,” Zernickow said. “Our (team) just love bus trips and doing whatever they do. It’s just an opportunity for us as a football team to do something together.”

The Saints are one of two local teams still alive in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs and that means a team get-together on Thanksgiving Day before a long bus drive to Antelope Valley College on Friday.

Up until this season, Thanksgiving Day practice was a hallowed tradition and watermark of success for local football programs. But that all changed when CIF moved the football season schedule back a week, which means if you want to practice on Thanksgiving, it means making the semifinals. In previous years, it meant needing only to win a first-round game.

For San Dimas, which has become a shoe-in to the Mid-Valley semifinals in recent years, the beat goes on. The program will hold a Thanksgiving Day breakfast, during which parents serve pancakes to players and alumni.

“This was a blessing to get there,” Zernickow said of still being alive in the playoffs on Thanksgiving.

San Dimas will leave campus at 1:30p.m. Friday and head for Antelope Valley College with a stop for dinner in between. Whether the Saints can get off to a hot start and blunt any home-field edge the Spirits may have could go a long way in determining whether the bus ride home is a happy one.

“They have some dudes,” Zernickow said of Paraclete. “They have both athletes and big guys, and they’re well-coached. We’ve been friends with their staff for a while, so we know a lot about them because we’ve spent time with them.

“We know, but it’s hard to transfer that to your own kids.”

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Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez saves best for last: “It was tough walking off that football field.”

By Aram Tolegian

After 14 years as head coach at Gladstone, Albert Sanchez’s tenure officially came to an end last Friday night at Citrus College when the Gladiators were eliminated from the Northwest Division playoffs by North Torrance.

“I get choked up still, because it’s been embedded in me,” Sanchez said of being the head coach at Gladstone. “It’s what I’ve known. I love the game of football and I love to coach.

“It was very emotional. I just wanted to go over to my guys and be with them. It was tough walking off that football field.”

Gladstone finished the season 10-2, earned a share of the Montview League and won the school’s first playoff game since 1977. Things figured to be real tough against North Torrance, but the Gladiators made a game of it, which further increased Sanchez’s pride in his players.

“We looked at North Torrance and figured it was back to playing Division X football the way we used to with their size and speed,” Sanchez said.

“Personally, I thought we were going to have our hands full with them. But it got to a point when the game was progressing where I thought `this is going to be like El Monte again’ and come down to the last possession.”

North Torrance eventually held on for a 42-34 win. Gladstone will now have to spend the early part of the offseason finding a replacement for Sanchez.

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Charter Oak faces reality: “We can do it one week, but we can’t do it week in and week out,” says coach Lou Farrar

By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
For the second straight season, Charter Oak was eliminated from the Inland Division playoffs by a Baseline League team.

Last season, Upland did the honors. This season, it was Rancho Cucamonga by a score of 23-7.

Charter Oak finished 10-2 for the second consecutive season, but the sense that there’s a ceiling on just how far the Chargers can go in the rugged Inland Division is becoming reality.

“We can do it one week, but we can’t do it week in and week out,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “The physical pounding and preparation are really difficult. My kids gave me everything they had. They left it all out on the field.”

Last season, the case can be made that Farrar had his best offense ever, led by quarterback Travis Santiago, running back Kurt Scoby and two next-level receivers in Chris Gilchrist and Bryce Bobo.

This season, the case can be made that Farrar has his best defense ever, a unit that allowed just 11.5 points per game. But the results were the same – the Chargers were sent packing in the second round.

“Here’s the deal, I thought about that after the game Friday and now three or four days of thought,” Farrar said. “Personnel-wise, if I could take the best players we’ve had for the last three years and put them on the same team, then I’ve got a chance to go to the third round, or the fourth.

“If I took the last three years and put all our kids on one team, I would look like Rancho Cucamonga. The point is, Rancho Cucamonga just had more players in more positions than we did. I don’t know if we can reach those levels.”

– Aram Tolegian

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Call Prep Results to (626) 544-0992; (626) 544-0991; Wilson Girls Hoops tourney updated, Rowland boys open with rout over Nogales

Boys and Girls Basketball and Boys and Girls Soccer tournaments run now until the end of December. All coaches hosting or competing in tournaments need to send tournament schedules to fred.robledo@sgvn.com. I will post as many area tournaments as I can and update depending on the cooperation with the tournament hosts, thanks.

BOYS BASKETBALL
NONLEAGUE
Rowland 72, Nogales 30

In the opener for both teams, Rowland was led by Joe Dioniso with 17 points, five steals and four rebounds, and Saeed Montoya added 14 points and four rebounds. Chris Arzadan added five points and six assists for the Raiders (1-0).

GIRLS BASKETBALL
WILSON TOURNAMENT
Round Robin
La Habra 65, Los Altos 18

The Highlanders (1-0) easily disposed of the Conquerors behind the scoring of Allison O’Brien with 22 points and Megan Chancellor chipping in with 10 points. Also scoring for La Habra were Amy Wilbourn and Cyrena Gonzalez, each with eight points. With the loss Los Altos drops to 0-1.
South Hills 57, La Mirada 31
The Huskies (1-0) put away the Matadores (0-1) in the first half leading 29-19 and never looked back behind the scoring of Imani Payton with 18 points and Sarah Madrigal contributing with 10 points. Brittany Wang scored nine points, Abry Moreno 8 and Kasey Murakami had six. Cherrelle Jimenez, Samantha Perez and Natalie Veal had two points each. La Mirada got their scoring from Alexandria Vanzulen with 11 points, Danielle Ashley scored 10 points and Madison Magil chipped in with seven points. Tiane Luatua contributed with two points and Vanessa Calzada had one to round out the scoring for La Mirada.

32ND ANNUAL WILSON LADYCAT CLASSIC UPDATES
At Wilson High School
Monday’s Results

Arcadia 73, Rowland 43
Wilson 67, Sierra Vista 16
Redlands East Valley 67, Alta Loma 56
Sonora 55, Nogales 35
Tuesday’s results
South Hills 57, La Mirada 31
La Habra 65, Los Altos 18
Norco 62, Walnut 36
Diamond Bar 61, Alhambra 13
Wednesday’s schedule
Rowland vs. Sierra Vista, 9 a.m.
Alta Loma vs. Nogales, 10:30 a.m.
La Mirada vs. Los Altos, Noon
Arcadia vs. Wilson, 1:30 p.m.
Redlands East Valley vs. Sonora, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. La Habra, 4:30 p.m.
Walnut vs. Alhambra, 6 p.m.
Norco vs. Diamond Bar, 6:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Friday, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Championship: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

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Tribskin Pick’em: Sorry West Covina, this is La Serna’s time; Monrovia and Paraclete will meet in final

Aram and I will go head-to-head in Tribskin Pick’em throughout the season for our annual dinner bet.


Last Week: Robledo (6-3); Tolegian (6-3).
This Week: Robledo (170-77); Tolegian (171-76).

Last Week: Aram and I both went 6-3, however we took different paths to get there. We both missed taking Charter Oak over Rancho Cucamonga and La Mirada over Santa Fe, but Aram got me taking North Torrance over Gladstone and I got him back taking San Dimas over San Marino. So, I’m still one back with two weeks to go.

This week: Doesn’t get much better than West Covina’s rematch against La Serna. I’ve seen West Covina enough to know they’re tough, physical, and playing with the heart of a champion. But La Serna is simply better and has been waiting on this one and will get it done in the rematch. In the Mid-Valley I’ve said all along Monrovia will meet Paraclete in the final and there is no reason not believe it won’t happen. I do give San Dimas a great shot at Paraclete, but the Spirits are good enough to get it done.

This weeks games and predictions
Friday
Southeast Division
West Covina vs. La Serna at California High, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (La Serna); Aram (Frankie)
Santa Fe at Downey, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Santa Fe); Aram (Downey)
Mid-Valley Division
Sierra Canyon vs. Monrovia at Granada Hills HS, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Monrovia); Aram (M-Town)
San Dimas vs. Paraclete at Antelope Valley College, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Paraclete); Aram (Norm)

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La Serna gets its rematch with West Covina after last year’s 84-21 blowout loss to the Bulldogs

“I guess I’m trying to downplay that part of it. On the bus going home, I said I wished it was 35-14. I didn’t want that to happen, but it’s hard to tell the kids not to play.”West Covina coach Mike Maggiore on the Bulldogs’ 84-21 win over La Serna in last year’s title game. The 84 points set a CIF record for points in a championship.

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

West Covina returns to the scene of the crime on Friday night when it takes on La Serna in a rematch of last year’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship game, in which the Bulldogs put an all-time beatdown on the Lancers with an 84-21 win.

The teams will be back at California High on Friday, but this time there’s no championship on the line. Just major revenge for the Lancers and a chance to play in next week’s title game for both teams.

Although West Covina is a much different team with a much different roster from last season, they Bulldogs are still the two-time defending division champions and represent the culprit in the most embarrassing loss in La Serna’s history.

“I guess I’m trying to downplay that part of it,” Maggiore said of last year’s 84-21 score. “On the bus going home, I said I wished it was 35-14. I didn’t want that to happen, but it’s hard to tell the kids not to play.”

West Covina jumped all over La Serna in last year’s title game behind the likes of Chris Solomon, Jimmy Frazier, Justen Meaders and Dorrin Turner.

All of them graduated in June and the Bulldogs now feature a roster of several guys playing out of position due to a season-long injury bug that’s caused coaches to shuffle the starting lineups on seemingly a weekly basis.

Last week, junior Henry Tarin became the Bulldogs’ third quarterback of the season when he stepped in for injured Jon Najera so that backup quarterback
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Antonio Hull could remain at running back. Tarin will likely see considerable time under center again this week.

Although several key cogs from last year’s La Serna’s team have also graduated, there are plenty on the roster who still remember the embarrassment. None more important than junior quarterback Frankie Palmer, who has become arguably the top player in the division.

La Serna has been a force this season. The Lancers are 11-1 and haven’t lost since a setback against Norco on Sept. 21. West Covina is 8-4 and riding a four-game win streak that has seen the Bulldogs knock off league champions Paramount and Muir in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

“They’re much better than they were last year,” Maggiore said of La Serna.

“You can tell they’re much more confident. They’re a great football team and it’s going to be tough.”

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Paraclete coach Norm Dahlia should get an award for class and sportsmanship after Martinez gesture

By Aram Tolegian

Understanding the magnitude of the situation prior to last Friday’s second-round game between El Monte and Paraclete, Spirits coach Norm Dahlia volunteered the thought of stopping the game to Lions coach Joel Sanchez when/if quarterback Brandon Martinez became the official east San Gabriel Valley single-season record holder for most touchdown passes in a season.

That may not have come as much of a surprise were the game being played in the Valley, but it was played at Antelope Valley College. Nonetheless, Dahlia felt it was important to honor Martinez’s accomplishment.

So when Martinez passed both Pat Haden (Bishop Amat) and Felipe Aguilar (Los Altos) with his 43rd touchdown pass of the season, the game was stopped, the public address announcer told the fans what had just happened and Martinez was congratulated at midfield by both coaches and given a game ball.

“I thought that was awesome on his part,” Sanchez said of Dahlia’s gesture.

“I never thought of doing that just because it’s not bigger than the game, but he (Dahlia) said he thought it was important to recognize the young man and his accomplishment. He said it would be an honor if we’d let them do that.

“I didn’t tell anyone and it was more of a surprise. Brandon was like `What are we doing?’ and I told him `Just come over here really quick.”‘

Martinez later added another touchdown pass and the record now stands at 44. Martinez also is now the entire San Gabriel Valley’s all-time single-season passing yards record holder with 4,243 yards after passing Muir’s Richard Irvin on Friday night.

Unfortunately, Martinez won’t be able to add to either total because the Lions’ season came to an end with a 56-16 loss to the Spirits.

Martinez wasn’t the only Lion to set records on Friday. Receiver Abel Barajas caught his 18th touchdown pass of the season, which gave him the school record for touchdowns receptions in a season. The previous record holder was Ray McNeil (1979) with 17. Barajas is also the school’s all-time single-season and career receiving yardage leader.

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