Boys Water Polo: Los Altos, Walnut and Damien advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals

Los Altos water polo gallery

LOS ALTOS FACES GLENDALE: A big first-period scoring barrage propelled the Los Altos High School boys’ water polo team to a 21-6 victory over visiting El Rancho in a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 first-round game Wednesday.

The Conquerors, ranked seventh in Division 5, scored 10 goals in the first period and were never in trouble the rest of the way.

Next up for Los Altos is No. 1-ranked Glendale, a 19-10 winner over J.W. North of Riverside. The Conquerors (16-14) lost to Glendale, 16-11, earlier in the season. They will host the second-round game on Saturday.

BOYS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
SATURDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
Division 2

Foothill at Damien, 5 p.
Division 5
Glendale vs. Los Altos at Commerce Center, 5 p.m.
Walnut at Pasadena Poly, Noon

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Girls Volleyball: St. Lucy’s and La Puente advance to quarters, Los Altos and San Dimas bow out

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS
Thursday’s second round
Division 1A

St. Lucy’s def. Westlake 25-16, 25-23, 25-11
Division 2AA
Los Osos def. Los Altos 25-17, 25-16, 25-23
Division 3A
Templeton def. San Dimas 25-17, 15-25, 25-17, 25-21
Sage Hill def. Rosemead 25-10, 25-18, 25-11
La Sierra def. Northview 25-10, 25-11, 25-18
Division 4A
La Puente def. Desert 18-25, 25-21, 25-12, 25-13
Laguna Blanca def. Gladstone 25-22, 25-19, 25-14

SATURDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
Division 1A

St. Lucy’s at El Dorado, 7 p.m.
Division 4A
La Puente at St. Anthony, 7 p.m.


Los Altos photo gallery

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
After peppering Los Altos at the net during Thursday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA girls volleyball second-round match with thunderous over-hand rights, Los Osos junior Ashten Smith-Gooden’s biggest point came on a delicate serve late in the third set.

The 6-foot-2 outside hitter broke a 23-23 tie with a serve that dropped in for an ace and Los Osos went on to sweep Los Altos 25-17, 25-16 and 25-23 to reach Saturday’s quarterfinals against the winner between fourth-seed Downey and San Luis Obispo.

Smith-Gooden finished with 15 kills to lead the Grizzlies (22-12), but it was her serve that knocked the air out of the Conquerors, who led most of the third set and was hoping to seize the momentum and stretch the match to a fourth set.

“I was nervous but I stayed focused,” Smith-Gooden said. “The crowd was getting into it and it got intense. When it dropped (in) it was a huge sigh of relief.”

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San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow and La Salle’s Russel Gordon finalists for ABC/NFL High School coach of the year in Southern California

San Dimas (9-1) head coach Bill Zernickow and La Salle’s Russell Gordon (10-0) received letters notifying them of being finalists for the ABC/NFL coach of the year in Southern California. There are five finalists which were selected by won-loss records for the regular season, and then on the number and quality of email notifications sent to ABC. How very cool, the SGV has two of the five finalists in SoCal.

Five Finalists
Vista Murrieta’s Coley Candaele (10-0); La Salle’s Russell Gordon (10-0); Chaminade’s Ed Corson (9-1), Crenshaw’s Robert Garrett (9-1) and San Dimas’ Bill Zernickow (9-1)

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La Puente quarterback Ivan Vasquez made a stunning return after a scary night in September, and the Warriors haven’t lost since

“She’s an old-school mom and she told me she didn’t want me to play anymore because she didn’t want to see me in that position again. But I told her I understood where she’s coming from, but that’s my thing, I love to play football. I told my mom I had to fight it to the end and I couldn’t leave my teammates hanging.” Quarterback Ivan Vasquez explaining to his mom that he wanted to play again after a frightening neck injury.

By Aram Tolegian, staff writer

Forget about football. Ivan Vasquez’s life as he knew it was almost ended.

Nobody will ever know just how close the three-year starting quarterback for the La Puente High School football came to being paralyzed or mentally disabled on that scary night back in September, when the entire community came to a standstill as the Warriors’ star player lay motionless on the field.

What we do know is doctors told Vasquez he was very lucky as they released him from Queen of the Valley Hospital hours after the incident.

Vasquez remembers only the before and after, but not the scariest part. The part where two rival teams gathered at midfield to pray for him. The part where two opposing coaches got together and decided to prematurely end a key game with more than 10 minutes left to play. The part where his frightened family members shed tears while paramedics worked to help him.

But he can tell us this: “The play was to roll out to the right and right when I got the snap I rolled out to the right and saw the nose tackle come at me,” Vasquez said.

“He hit me and I bounced off of him and I ran the opposite way. I was trying to run to the sideline but another got me. He got my leg and I just whip-lashed to the ground. Pretty much, my head hit the ground and that’s when everything went blank. Right when I hit the ground, I saw black and white. And then I was out for a couple minutes.”

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Gladstone’s Albert Sanchez will step away after the playoffs, ending a 13-year tenure that will conclude with one of his best season’s ever

UPDATE: In honoring coach Sanchez, the school is inviting any past players, coaches or anyone that had a connection with Coach Sanchez to the Gladiators Football Banquet on Saturday, Dec. 1. Those interested should contact Gladstone High School 626-815-3604 for ticket information.

The worst-kept secret in the San Gabriel Valley is out, Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez will step away after 13-years in charge when the playoffs are over. After going 3-7 last year, Gladstone finished 9-1 and shared the Montview League title, Gladstone’s best finish since going 9-2 in 2005, which was Sanchez’s best season.
“The very first day on August 6 I expressed to the seniors that this was our senior year, that this was my last year,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I’ve coached a lot of kids and now it’s time for me to focus on my own kids. I love everything about Gladstone and will stay here as a teacher, but it’s time to concentrate on other things.”
If Gladstone defeats visiting Mary Star of the Sea in the first-round of the Northwest Division playoffs on Friday at Baldwin Park (7 p.m), it will be the Gladiators first playoff win since 1977 and obviously Sanchez’s first playoff win as their coach. With a career record of 84-65 at the school, Sanchez never imagined his final season would be this rewarding. “It’s been a dream, I couldn’t of imagined the season coming together the way it did,” Sanchez said. “It’s been one great (memory) after another and hard to put into words because I get emotional thinking about it. But we’re not done, that’s the best part, we’ve got a playoff game on Friday that we want to win.”

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Pac-5 Division Prediction: Time for Serra to get some respect with Alemany and Amat in semifinals, but St. John Bosco wins it all

I’m going to take flack with such bold predictions, but I like Amat’s chances at Long Beach Poly and calling the upset over Mission Viejo at home in the second round. It feels entirely possible. In Amat’s losses to Alemany and Notre Dame, turnovers decided the game as much as anything. Amat’s yet to play a turnover-free game in a big game and if they protect the ball, their offense can do the rest. Alemany has a very winnable first round game and I like their athletes against Mater Dei. Now wouldn’t that be something, two Serra teams in the semifinals? It’s a good start for their street cred, but St. Bonny’s and St. John Bosco are going to the title game. I’ve felt all along St. John Bosco is the best of the best and not changing my mind now.

Pac-5 Division Playoff Predictions
First Round
Top Half
Long Beach Cabrillo at No. 1 St. Bonaventure — St. Bonny
Santa Margarita at El Toro — El Toro
Moorpark at Alemany — Alemany
Lakewood at No. 4 Mater Dei — Mater Dei
Bottom Half
Tesoro at No. 3 St. John Bosco — St. John Bosco
Oaks Christian at Notre Dame — Notre Dame
Bishop Amat at Long Beach Poly — Bishop Amat
Westlake at No. 2 Mission Viejo — Mission Viejo

Second Round
St. Bonaventure vs. El Toro — St. Bonaventure
Alemany vs. Mater Dei — Alemany
St. John Bosco vs. Notre Dame — St. John Bosco
Bishop Amat vs. Mission Viejo — Bishop Amat

Semifinals
St. Bonaventure vs. Alemany — St. Bonaventure
St. John Bosco vs. Bishop Amat — St. John Bosco

Championship
St. John Bosco vs. St. Bonaventure — St. John Bosco

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Northwest Division Prediction: Gladstone will make a dream run to the semifinals, capping best playoff season since 1977

Don’t sleep on Gladstone. The only game they slipped up on was rival Azusa, that could be forgiven in the grand scheme of things. When you look at the four they’re grouped with, they’ve got a shot at reaching the semifinals, which would be incredible thinking back to where they were last year, but that’s as far as it goes. Bishop Diego is a different animal altogether. I like undefeated La Salle’s chances of marching to the title game, but Bishop Diego is still too good.

Northwest Division Predictions
First Round
Top Half
South Torrance at No. 1 Bishop Diego — Bishop Diego
Village Christian at Bishop Montgomery — Village Christian
Mary Star at Gladstone — Gladstone
Oak Park at No. 4 North Torrance — North Torrance
Bottom Half
Compton Centennial at No. 3 La Salle — La Salle
El Segundo at La Puente — El Segundo
Torrance at Whittier Christian — Torrance
Sierra Vista at No. 2 Nordohoff — Nordhoff

Second Round
Bishop Diego vs. Village Christian — Bishop Diego
Gladstone vs. North Torrance — Gladstone
La Salle vs. El Segundo — La Salle
Torrance vs. Nordhoff — Nordhoff

Semifinals
Bishop Diego vs. Gladstone — Bishop Diego
La Salle vs. Nordhoff — La Salle

Championship
Bishop Diego vs. La Salle — Bishop Diego

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Inland Division Predictions: Charter Oak poised to make a semifinal run, but that’s where the dream ends

For those who believe the Sierra League doesn’t belong in the Inland Division, what will you say if Charter Oak gets to the semifinals and Chino Hills the second round? It’s very possible and that’s what I’ve got penciled in. Even though Charter Oak has a tough road for a fourth seed, I like their chances against Chaparral and Rancho Cucamonga, however Vista is where it stops. Same for Chino Hills, a first-round win over Redlands is reasonable, but they don’t get pas Upland. I like Vista Murrieta to meet Upland in the finals, and as great as Upland is, I still think it will be a lopsided decision for Vista, arguably the best in California.

INLAND DIVISION PREDICTIONS
First Round
Top Half
South Hills at No. 1 Vista Murrieta – Vista
Norco at Redlands East Valley — REV
Corona Santiago at Rancho Cucamonga — Rancho Cucamonga
Chaparral at No. 4 Charter Oak – Charter Oak
Bottom Half
Great Oak at No. 3 Upland — Upland
Redlands at Chino Hills — Chino Hills
Eisenhower at Murrieta Valley — Murrieta Valley
Los Osos at No. 4 Corona Centennnial — Corona Centennial

Second Round
Vista Murrieta vs. Redlands Easy Valley – Vista
Rancho Cucamonga vs. Charter Oak — Charter Oak
Upland vs. Chino Hills — Upland
Murrieta Valley vs. Corona Centennial – Corona Centennial

Semifinals
Vista Murrieta vs. Charter Oak — Vista Murrieta
Upland vs. Corona Centennial — Upland

Championship
Vista Murrieta vs. Upland — Vista Murrieta

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Bonita coach Adrian Medrano and South Hills coach Albert Rodriguez in playoffs for the first time, read what they have to say

“I wouldn’t call it a full-blown collapse, but I will say that we’re not finishing. For whatever reason, we start to get a little complacent. We haven’t shown that killer instinct these last three games. That has to come out. We have to have that killer instinct. We can never be satisfied with the lead.” Bonita coach Adrian Medrano on Bearcats losing final two games after winning five straight

“We’re not disappointed in the draw. It’s our first year back in the playoffs after back-to-back 3-7 seasons, so we’re happy to be in it. We’re just going to go have a good time.”South Hills coach Albert Rodriguez on facing Vista Murrieta, the No. 1 ranked team in California.

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
Any way you slice it, Bonita High School is not entering the football playoffs heading in the right direction.

The Bearcats blew their shot at an outright Hacienda League championship by losing their final two games of the season despite having leads in both games. Now, they’re hoping to right the ship in time for Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs first-round game against Santa Fe. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Bonita.

“I wouldn’t call it a full-blown collapse, but I will say that we’re not finishing,” first-year Bearcats coach Adrian Medrano said. “For whatever reason, we start to get a little complacent. We haven’t shown that killer instinct these last three games.

“That has to come out. We have to have that killer instinct. We can never be satisfied with the lead.”

Bonita, which enters the postseason with a 5-5 record, finished in a four-way tie for the league championship with West Covina, Rowland and Diamond Ranch. But West Covina won the league’s tiebreakers and entered the playoffs as the league’s top team.

That has to sting for Bonita, which opened league play with a 4-0 record only to lose close games to Diamond Ranch and Diamond Bar in the final two games of the season. Even more frustrating to Bearcats fans was that their team held a 20-7 lead over Diamond Ranch before losing 34-31 and led Diamond Bar 24-7 at halftime before losing 25-24.

“Even against Los Altos, we started the game off up 17-0,” Medrano said of Bonita’s 35-31 win over the Conquerors three weeks ago, which started a pattern of blowing leads. “If we learn a lesson this week, our season is done. We just need to stay the course and make sure we have the right attitude every day.

“Guys who are our leaders need to step up. I thought that some guys who are leaders on our team had a chance to step up against Diamond Bar and that didn’t happen.”

Santa Fe also enters Friday’s game with a 5-5 record. The Chiefs finished second in the Del Rio League behind La Serna and played a tough nonleague schedule that included the likes of St. John Bosco, Chaparral and Corona Santiago.

“They’re well-coached and tough,” Medrano said of Santa Fe. “They play tough football out in that area. Santa Fe has a culture of winning and it has a culture of toughness of discipline.”

SOUTH HILLS IN DEEP

After missing the playoffs for the past two seasons, South Hills is very happy to be back in the postseason even if it means being thrown to the wolves in the Inland Division with a road game against arguably the best team in Southern California, Vista Murrieta.

The Huskies finished the regular season at 6-4 and placed third in the Sierra League. Being third in the Sierra is a double-edged sword, however, with that team annually becoming fodder for the division’s top seed in the first round.

“We’re not disappointed in the draw,” first-year South Hills coach Albert Rodriguez said. “It’s our first year back in the playoffs after back-to-back 3-7 seasons, so we’re happy to be in it. We’re just going to go have a good time.”

Vista Murrieta enters the postseason with high expectations after a 10-0 regular season. The Broncos won the division last season and another title could send them on their way to a state championship bowl game.

For South Hills, it’s the program’s first trip to the Inland Division playoffs since stunningly being placed in the division three seasons ago after a decade of success in lower divisions.

“I knew there was a chance that we would play them,” Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely a reward for making the playoffs, but all joking aside like I told our kids this is like a celebration. We’ve had a great year. We’re treating it like it’s a little bowl game.

“We’ve been watching them (on video) the past two days. That’s one of the best football teams I’ve seen on film since I’ve been doing this. They live up to every bit of it, without a doubt.”

Rodriguez wasn’t about to get controversial about South Hills being in the same division as Vista Murrieta, but like many others he has no answers as to why the Huskies are where they are.

“It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever,” Rodriguez said. “But we can’t control that. I can’t get into all that. That’s for the powers that be to figure all that out.”
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Southeast predictions: While it’s payback time for La Serna, it’s good night the parties over for West Covina and the Hacienda

This isn’t the Southeast that we use to know. Two years ago West Covina beat Bonita for the title and last year West Covina dropped 84 on La Serna to win the title game. My how things have changed. I’ve got three of the four Hacienda teams going in the first round, including back-to-back champion West Covina. La Mirada and La Serna have been the two best all season and there is no reasonable rationale to argue they won’t face off in the championship game. La Mirada gets their easier than La Serna, but I think La Serna’s experience and how they lost in last year’s title game will be enough to not allow them to slip up. Once in the final with everyone predicting that La Mirada is going to get them, I like La Serna to upset them and take home the crown.

Southeast Division Predictions
First Round
Top Half

Arcadia at No. 1 La Mirada — La Mirada
Santa Fe at Bonita — Bonita
Norwalk at Burbank — Norwalk
Rowland at No. 4 Downey — Downey
Bottom Half
California at No. 3 Muir — Muir
Paramount at West Covina — Paramount
Dominguez at Bellflower — Dominguez
Diamond Ranch at No. 2 La Serna — La Serna

Second Round
La Mirada vs. Bonita — La Mirada
Norwalk vs. Downey – Norwalk
Muir vs. Paramount — Muir
Dominguez vs. La Serna — La Serna

Semifinals
La Mirada vs. Norwalk – La Mirada
Muir vs. La Serna — La Serna

Championship
La Mirada vs La Serna — La Serna

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Mid-Valley Predictions: San Dimas should do enough to reach the semifinals, but nobody’s knocking off No. 1 Paraclete

The Mid-Valley Division is by far the easiest to project. You can pencil Paraclete, Sierra Canyon and Monrovia into the semifinals without worry. The winner of San Dimas and San Marino will be the fourth, guaranteed. The way Paraclete took care of Sierra Canyon and how it handled the rest of the Alpha leads me to take Paraclete over San Dimas in the semifinals. This could be Monrovia’s finest hour and I love their chances against Sierra Canyon, especially if they get them at home. But here’s the thing, as much as I would love to watch Monrovia go back-to-back against the top dogs, I don’t foresee them beating both teams. Once in the final, Paraclete is more polished and will win it all.

Mid-Valley Division Predictions
First Round
Top Half

Temple City at No. 1 Paraclete — Paraclete
Montebello at El Monte — El Monte
Schurr at San Marino — San Marino
Windward at No. 4 San Dimas — San Dimas
Bottom Half
Northview at No. 3 Sierra Canyon – Sierra Canyon
Arroyo at Bell Gardens — Bell Gardens
Covina at South El Monte — Covina
Viewpoint at No. 2 Monrovia — Monrovia

Second Round
Paraclete vs. El Monte — Paraclete
San Dimas vs. San Marino — San Dimas
Sierra Canyon vs. Bell Gardens — Sierra Canyon
Covina vs. Monrovia — Monrovia

Semifinals
Paraclete vs. San Dimas — Paraclete
Sierra Canyon vs. Monrovia – Monrovia

Championship
Paraclete vs. Monrovia — Paraclete

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CIF gets a thumbs down for scheduling

With the country glued to their television sets awaiting the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election, the CIF-Southern Section decided it’s a good night for the first round of the CIF-Southern Section girls volleyball playoffs. Even worse, they all start at 7 p.m., when all the blue and red states are being posted. What should be an educational experience for high school kids while allowing parents and fans of volleyball more time to vote is CIF not thinking this through. Not a good night to charge admission if making money is part of the goal. Also, the girls tennis team finals are on Friday, the same night as the opening round of the football playoffs. For tennis fans starving for news coverage, having the finals on Football Friday is no bueno.

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We’re gathering a list for National Signing Day on Wednesday, Nov. 14., to take our annual picture at the Tribune

The early signing period for those signing National Letters of intent is on Wedneday, November 14, which includes basketball, baseball, softball and girls volleyball. I’m gathering a list to invite to the office, so post any athletes you know of signing or shoot me an email to fred.robledo@sgvn.com.

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