By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
The past calendar year was quite successful for local programs and athletes.
But it was particularly rewarding for Bonita High School baseball pitcher Justin Garza, who set his name in Valley lore with one of the most dominating seasons in history while leading the Bearcats to their first CIF-Southern Section division title since 1951.
Garza, now at Cal State Fullerton, earned All-America honors from Baseball America after going 12-1 with a 0.72 ERA. He capped his historic season by retiring the final 12 batters to lead the Bearcats to a 5-1 victory over Alhambra in the Division 3 title game at Dodger Stadium in June.
Garza finished his final two years 25-1.
“I think I’ve earned it,” Garza said of being Tribune Area Player of the Year. “I think I’ve worked hard these last couple of years, especially (in 2012). It’s a great feeling to be the best player in the area because I know we’ve got a lot of great players out here who come out of this area.”
Here’s a brief look at the rest of the top 10 stories of the year:
No. 2 EL MONTE’S MARTINEZ ON RECORD PACE
El Monte High School’s Brandon Martinez broke perhaps the area’s most cherished records.
Martinez, who helped the Lions earn a share of their first league football title since 1979 with a co-Mission Valley League crown, became the area’s single-season leader with 4,243 yards and 44 touchdowns. He surpassed former Los Altos great Mike Smith (1982) for the yardage mark and Bishop Amat’s Pat Haden (1970) and Los Altos’ Felipe Aguilar (2000) for the touchdown record.
El Monte advanced to the quarterfinals.
No. 3 NORTHVIEW WINS DIVISION, MASTERS TITLES
Northview has set the bar among area wrestling programs and added to its reputation in February and March by winning CIF-SS Southern Division and Masters titles en route to a solid finish at the state meet. Bobby Salinas led a group of six Vikings to win individual titles at the Southern Division championships and was one of seven competitors to advance to the state meet after the Vikings won Masters.
No. 4 BONITA WINS STATE CROSS COUNTRY TITLE
It was a year of firsts for the Bearcats, who won the school’s first CIF-SS cross country title with a Division 2 crown, then topped it with their first CIF State title, also in Division II. Bonita, led by Marissa Scott, covered Fresno’s Woodward Park course in a combined 94 minutes, 10 seconds. The Bearcats won by 60 points.
No. 5 BEARCATS CAPTURE CIF-SS BASEBALL CROWN
Bonita, which made runs at CIF-SS titles the previous three seasons, finally broke through by beating Alhambra for the Division 3 crown. The Bearcats were led by Garza, Tyler Heslop and Thomas Castro. All three were All-CIF-SS Division 3, with Garza the Player of the Year.
No. 6 BISHOP AMAT REIGNS IN GIRLS BASKETBALL
The Lancers added to their area dominance by winning their fifth CIF-SS title since 1999 with a Division 3A crown. The Lancers, led by Paulina Santana, Dagmar Ramirez and Leeah Powell, beat Oak Park, 44-30 in the final.
No. 7 BONITA’S WHEATLEY TAKES TWO TRACK TITLES
The sophomore showed she’s more than a talented basketball player by winning Division 3 titles in the long and triple jumps. She advanced to the state championships in the triple jump.
No. 8 APU MOVES UP TO DIVISION II
The Cougars, after dominating in the NAIA, officially moved up to NCAA Division II for all sports. The early highlight to the move was the football team winning its last four games and finishing 4-7.
No. 9 MT. SAC WOMEN WIN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Mounties added to their recent success by winning the school’s fifth California Community College Athletic Association basketball title. Mt. SAC was helped by Ashley Burchfield, who prepped at San Dimas High School, and Leticia Galarza (Bishop Amat).
No. 10 MOUNTIES’ FOOTBALL REIGN ENDS
Mt. SAC saw its streak of five consecutive Southern California Football Association titles come to an end with a 30-21 loss to Bakersfield in the region title game. Mt. SAC had won five consecutive regional titles since 2008.
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By Richard Hernandez, Correspondent
COVINA - Damien survived a determined Rowland boys basketball team Saturday night in a 59-57 victory in the championship game of the 59th annual Covina Christmas Tournament.
Rowland guard Joseph Dionisio’s last-second layup attempt in traffic missed the rim, securing the victory for the defending champion Spartans.
This year was more of a series of battles and less of a coronation with Damien winning its last three games by a combined 10 points.
Damien (11-4) did not trail Saturday, but it never felt comfortable as the Raiders squandered chances to take the lead.
“They (Rowland) are great competitors and really well-coached,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “I watched them all tournament and I thought they were the best team throughout all four days.
“We just found a way to score one more basket tonight.”
Chris Arzadon made a layup and was fouled with 4:08 remaining in the game, and his free throw pulled Rowland even for the first time since the opening moments.
Jeremy Hemsley broke the tie with a short jumper in the lane to give Damien a 51-49 lead.
Hemsley scored seven of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and the sophomore went on to be named MVP of the tournament.
Following two free throws by Dionisio, Damien senior forward Ayo Adedeji converted consecutive layups to extend the lead to four with just over a minute remaining.
Adedeji, Isaiah McCullough, and Jared Dizon were named to the all-tournament team.
“He (Adedeji) has come a long way in his four-year career with us,” Dunn said. “He’s a kid going to Stanford as a student, so we are very proud of him.”
Hemsley made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left in the fourth to put the Spartans ahead 57-55 and set up the failed final attempt by the Raiders that would have sent the game into overtime.
Seniors Dionisio, Arzadon, and Saeed Montoya scored 47 of Rowland’s 57 points. All of their points were scored from the second quarter on.
Rowland entered having outscored its tournament opponents by an average of 29 points.
Damien jumped out to a fast start. Adedeji followed up a 3-pointer with a blocked shot on Rowland’s next possession that led to a layup by McCullough, who also was fouled. McCullough’s free throw capped an 8-0 Spartans run and gave them their largest first-half lead, 20-11.
Following a 3-pointer by Damien’s Keith Cavanaugh to open the second half, Rowland answered with seven consecutive points to close the gap to 33-32. But consecutive layups by Hemsley denied the Raiders the opportunity to take their first lead.
Covina Boys Basketball Tournament
California 69, Los Altos 53
Damien 77, Northview 74, OT
Rowland 66, Bishop Amat 29
Covina 64, La Salle
FRIDAY’S SEMIFINALS AT COVINA
California vs. Damien, 7 p.m.
Rowland vs. Covina, 8:30 p.m.
Sierra Vista vs. San Gabriel, 10 a.m.
South El Monte vs. Garey, 11:30 a.m.
Azusa vs. Mt. View, 1 p.m.
South Hills vs. Charter Oak, 2:30 p.m.
Los Altos vs. Northview, 4:30 p.m.
Bishop Amat vs. La Salle, 5:30 p.m.
By John Sherrard
You can always go home.
And that’s exactly where California head coach Jason Van Duyne went Thursday night in a quarterfinal game of the 59th annual Covina High School Christmas Tournament.
Van Duyne, who played basketball at Covina, watched his team defeat Los Altos, 69-53, in a game featuring two different halves.
After holding a 27-26 lead after two quarters the Condors pulled away, particularly at the free-throw line, and cruised to their ninth victory of the season against four losses.
Los Altos fell to 7-4.
Covina Christmas Tournament
Monday’s First Round Results
Los Altos 41, San Gabriel 38
Cal 74, Azusa 27
Northview 57, Mountain View 48
Damien 90, Sierra Vista 24
Bishop Amat 50, South Hills 44
Rowland 70, South El Monte 24
La Salle 62, Charter Oak 47
Covina 71, Garey 43
Thursday’s quarterfinals at Covina HS
Los Altos vs. California, 4 p.m.
Northview vs. Damien, 5:30 p.m.
Bishop Amat vs. Rowland, 7 p.m.
La Salle vs. Covina, 8:30 p.m.
By John Sherrard
The La Salle High School boys basketball team broke with a long-running tradition of hosting its own tournament this season and may have started a new tradition in the longest-running tourney in the valley.
The Lancers, ranked No. 6 in CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA, defeated Charter Oak, 63-47, in a first-round game of the 59th annual Doc Sooter Christmas Tournament on Wednesday night at Covina High.
La Salle (6-2) will play Covina, a 71-43 winner over Garey, today in a quarterfinal game at 4 p.m., while Charter Oak (4-8) plays a consolation game against Garey at 2:30 p.m.
We’ll look back at 2012 with the top ten prep/local stories of the year, which runs on Dec. 30. This includes high school and area colleges. For me, the best story was arguably the senior season that pitcher Justin Garza had with Bonita, leading them to a CIF title and finishing 12-1 with a 0.72 ERA. But there were a number of great stories, what’s yours?
Nogales Boys Basketball Classic
Today’s games at Nogales
Bassett vs. Notre Dame, 9 a.m.
Don Lugo vs. Bloomington Christian, 10:30 a.m.
Savanna vs. West Covina, Noon
Jurupa Valley vs. La Serna, 1:45 p.m.
Alta Loma vs. Renaissance Academy, 3:30 p.m.
Whitney vs. Upland, 5 p.m.
Walnut vs. Serrano, 6:30 p.m.
Edgewood vs. Nogales, 8 p.m.
The 16-team Covina Christmas Tournament knockout bracket is set with top seeds, 1. Damien, 2. La Salle, 3. Rowland, 4. California.
First Round, Tuesday, Dec. 26
At Covina High School
Los Altos vs. San Gabriel, 10 a.m.
Azusa vs. California, 11:30 a.m.
Mt. View vs. Northview, 1 p.m.
Damien vs. Sierra Vista, 2:30 p.m.
Bishop Amat vs. South Hills, 4 p.m.
Rowland vs. South El Monte, 5:30 p.m.
Charter Oak vs. La Salle, 7 p.m.
Garey vs. Covina, 8:30 p.m.
You can take this to the bank, my Covina Christmas predictions ….
First Round: Los Altos over Covina JV, Cal over Azusa, Northview over Mountain View, Damien over Sierra Vista, Bishop Amat over South Hills, Rowland over South El Monte, La Salle over Charter Oak, Covina over Garey.
Quarterfinals: California over Los Altos, Damien over Northview, Rowland over Bishop Amat, Covina over La Salle
Semifinals: Damien over California; Rowland over Covina
Championship: Damien over Rowland
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By Aram Tolegian
With nearly of month of games under their belts, things are starting to take shape for local girls high school basketball teams.
Most teams probably have one more stop on the tournament circuit right after Christmas, and soon after that league play begins with championships and playoff berths on the line.
There’s enough evidence to form a strong opinion on the top 10 teams in the area at this point:
1. BISHOP AMAT (9-1)
After sharing the spotlight in recent years with Bonita and Diamond Ranch, the Lancers took it back all for themselves last season by winning yet another CIF championship under coach Richard Wiard … with a postseason win over Bonita along the way.
Although there are some solid teams in the area, Amat should be able to keep the spotlight the entire winter. The Lancers have a bonafide scorer in guard Paulina Santana, a hustling, defensive savant in Dagmar Ramirez, a budding star in Janae Chamois and a high-impact transfer Mauriana Clayton, who is 6-feet tall and plays forward.
As nice as the nucleus of players is, Amat won’t be a premier team as far as the Southland is concerned unless Santana develops into the type of scorer she can become. That means consistently hitting her outside shot. If that happens, Amat is too versatile for most opponents to handle.
The Lancers weren’t able to close the deal earlier this month in the Covina Tournament, but did bounce back to take the Arroyo Tournament. The Del Rey League presents another huge challenge, as every team in the league currently sports a winning record. Amat is certainly in the mix, but needs to be on its best behavior every night.
Local fans should circle Jan.26 on their calendars. That’s when the Lancers take on Bonita at Azusa Pacific University.
2. BONITA (4-1)
The Bearcats still feature the top overall player in the area in point guard Nikki Wheatley.
Wheatley, a junior, will have to shoulder more of the load as the talent level around her has dropped for the second straight season. Last year, Wheatley had a major post threat in 6-foot-3 center Brianna Kennedy, but Kennedy is now playing at Loyola Marymount.
Wheatley, the reigning Tribune Player of the Year, is capable of taking games over by herself. But when the Bearcats play against athletic teams like Diamond Ranch, which can run with Wheatley, they might be in a little trouble.
Bonita gets the nod over Diamond Ranch as far as our Hacienda League prediction, but it’s very, very close.
3. CHINO HILLS (5-2)
We’ll go ahead and call the Huskies the favorites to win the Sierra League.
That’s either saying something, or it’s not, because the league was not a bastion of basketball greatness last season. But Charter Oak lost some key players, as did St. Lucy’s.
The reason things are looking up for the Huskies is the arrival of freshman center Janessa Thropay, who could do some amazing things over the next four years.
Looking around the league, there isn’t a team with an answer to Thropay, who is already averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Emily Ayala is second on the team in scoring behind Thropay and is yet another young talent capable of carrying the team.
Chino Hills already owns a narrow win over Diamond Ranch, so that right there stamps the Huskies as Sierra League favorites.
4. DIAMOND RANCH (5-3)
The Panthers suffered some heavy graduation losses, but this is a program that’s proven capable of reloading.
Head coach Mike James has a roster fully capable of playing a pressuring, up-tempo style and that could lead to many turnovers and easy points for the Panthers. Guard Emilee Dy is an aggressive defender who may be the perfect elixir to Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley when the two teams meet in crucial league games later this season.
Tai Lark, a 5-foot-10 forward, showed flashes last season of being a force.
There’s also solid players in Sydney Cabellon and Lauren Graves. Cayla Freeman, a combo guard/forward, could develop into the team’s top offensive threat.
The Panthers already own a nice win over Muir, so that should tell you just how athletic and fast the Panthers are.
5. DUARTE (7-0)
The Falcons have more than proven their worth by posting two wins over Muir so far this season.
It’s looking like another Montview League championship will be a mere formality for Duarte. Imari Brown is one of the top players in the area as evidenced by her being on the Tribune All-Area team last season as a junior.
Brown is already off to a blazing start, averaging 27 points per game.
Trouble is, unlike past years, Brown doesn’t have the same type of suppprting cast. And that might cost the Falcons in the postseason.
6. GLENDORA (8-2)
The Tartans certainly have a flashy record, but they haven’t come close in their two toughest games of the season against Bishop Amat and Arcadia.
But the feeling is that those losses will actually make Glendora a better team as it braces for Baseline League play next month. The Tartans have one of the top players around in forward Casie Lowden, who is averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and nearly three steals per game.
Lowden will likely be the focal point of opposing defenses in league, which means the supporting cast had better step up. But no other Tartans player is averaging in double figures.
Although Glendora has the second-best record in the Baseline right now, it’s pretty obvious some teams below them have more overall talent. Still, the Tartans figure to give a good account of themselves if their solid start is any indicator.
7. WILSON (5-5)
The Wildcats have been a consistent winner under head coach Tracy Calton, and they look like the favorite in the Valle Vista League.
There’s good returning experience in Kelli Calton and Kaelyn Kawamoto.
Plus, the Wildcats always seem to do the little things right and rarely beat themselves. The losses this season have been to solid opponents and now that they’ve begun league play, we think the wins will start showing up in full force.
8. ROSEMEAD (5-4)
When the dust settles, we’re rather certain that Rosemead will be Mission Valley League champions again.
The Panthers have been hitting the tournament circuit hard and getting back into league play next month will feel like a welcome relief.
Melody Gauthier gives Rosemead the top player in the league and a talent that no league team can truly match up with. The Panthers’ guards aren’t flashy, but they don’t turn the ball over and can knock down the outside shot when needed.
It all adds up to another very solid edition produced by highly successful Panthers coach Jay Gauthier.
9. CHARTER OAK (6-4)
Kudos to Chargers coach Jenny Strycula, who took over a floundering program and in one season made the team respectable and even won a CIF-SS playoff game.
The Chargers lost some size inside to graduation, but Allison Strycula is back to run the point and provides her team one of the better ballhandlers and tenacious defenders around. The question is whether anyone can score.
The Sierra League, after Chino Hills, looks to be wide open. So a team that limits mistakes and can squeeze the most of its talent should go far.
10. WEST COVINA (5-5)
There’s probably no cracking Bonita and Diamond Ranch as the top two teams in the Hacienda League, but there’s certainly no reason the Bulldogs can’t find their way into third place.
The signs are there that this is a team improving at the right time. West Covina lost to St. Lucy’s to start the season, then came back this month and beat the Regents by nearly 40 points. The Bulldogs also posted a win over Charter Oak.
By John Honell, Correspondent
The San Dimas High boys basketball team, bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss in its Valle Vista League opener, took a 4-2 lead at 5:19 of the first quarter and never was headed in a 57-41 win over Baldwin Park at Life Pacific College on Thursday night.
“You can’t think about winning league if you start 0-2,” Saints coach Bruce Robbins said. “If you do, you have a giant hill to climb. You have to win every game on your home floor to be in position to win league.”
The Canyon-Coast Classic, pitting the Southern California Interscholastic Football Coaches Association (SCIFCA) All-stars vs. the Arizona Football Coaches Association (AzFCA) all-stars will be played on Monday, January 21 at Riverside Community College. For a complete roster and more information, click here
How did West Covina beat Hacienda League favorite Diamond Ranch 58-56 in the league opener?
After trailing by 14 points midway through the second quarter, the Bulldogs (6-6, 1-0) came from behind in the second half and stole a victory from the Panthers.
With four seconds remaining in the game and the scored tied at 56-56, West Covina’s junior guard Jonah Mendoza deflected a pass at Diamond Ranch’s 3-point line. He picked up the ball and raced downcourt to score the game-winning basket with 1.4 seconds remaining. Continue reading
By Aram Tolegian
With nearly of month of games under their belts, things are starting to take shape for local boys high school basketball teams.
Most teams probably have one more stop on the tournament circuit after Christmas, and soon after that league play begins with championships and playoff berths on the line.
There’s enough evidence to form a strong opinion on exactly who are the top 10 teams in the area at this point. Here they are …
1. DAMIEN (7-2)
The Spartans had to replace big man Chris Reyes, now at St. Mary’s, but they haven’t really missed a beat. An athletic lineup playing a slightly more up-tempo style has been too much for most of Damien’s early foes to handle.
The Spartans started the season by winning the Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista Tournament. They were heavily favored to do so, just as they will be in next week’s Covina Tournament.
Damien’s schedule has been a good mix of local opponents in local tournaments and a trip outside the comfort zone in the Father Barry Classic, where the Spartans lost to Northern California foes.
Sophomore Jeremy Hemsley is averaging nearly 20 points per game. Senior Jared Dizon gives the Spartans another good scoring threat and sophomore Isaiah McCullough provides Damien good muscle inside.
The Sierra League will be no easy task, but Damien looks like the most complete of the group as of now.
2. GLENDORA (10-1)
The Tartans gave their fans a mild scare when they lost to California in the Baldwin Park/Sierra Vista Tournament.
But Glendora got things figured out in a big way and won the Glendora Tournament last week by knocking off Walnut in the semifinals and Keppel in the championship. The Tartans will spend next week in the Century Tournament as their final tuneup before starting Baseline League play.
Head coach Mike LeDuc has nice talent to work in sophomore swing man Brandon Brothers. Big man Christian Schneider ensures the Tartans won’t be pushed around.
Junior guard Thomas Rico also could develop into a force, and if the Tartans ever got scorer Nick Colletta back healthy for a decent stretch they’d really be a nightmare.
The league goes through Etiwanda and standout guard Jordan McLaughlin. Glendora was swept by the Eagles last year and will need to at least get a split against them this season to have any hopes at winning league.
3. CHINO HILLS (7-3)
The Huskies may have seven wins, but it’s their losses that make us feel like big things are looming.
Chino Hills’ narrow 50-47 loss to perennial power Pasadena looks better and better. And when you consider the Huskies lost only because of a late Pasadena rally, you start to get the feeling this team will be capable of big things.
Chino Hills also played Etiwanda tough recently and will get a chance to tighten things up before league play in next week’s Torrey Pines Tournament.
The Huskies gave a good account of themselves in league a year ago by finishing third. They won 17 games last year and could win a similar number this season.
Cameron Curry is the only returnee from last year’s group of top scorers, but he’s capable of carrying the team when needed.
4. DIAMOND RANCH (7-2)
The Panthers get the nod as the most talented team in the Hacienda League and could make quick work of league with any sort of consistency.
Senior Nnadi Udengwu is the early favorite for league MVP, thanks to his 23 points and nine rebounds per game.
The Panthers will be thrown to the wolves over the holidays by playing several big-name teams in the Maxpreps Holiday Classic. No matter what happens, they should come back a better team and be ready to rock when they face Bonita on Jan. 4 in the first key league game of the season.
5. ROWLAND (7-3)
It was a mild disappointment when the Raiders fell to Keppel last week in the semifinals of the Glendora Tournament and did not reach the championship game.
Rowland has 12 seniors and is loaded with experience after winning 19 games last season. Replacing Derrick Mar hasn’t been easy, but the Raiders can fill it up from outside thanks to the return of sharpshooter Joseph Dionisio.
Forward Saeed Montoya and guard Chris Arazdon will be counted on heavily to fill up the stat sheet. When Rowland is playing its game and knocking down its shots, the Raiders are very dangerous.
6. LA VERNE LUTHERAN (5-3)
Most area fans are wondering just how far the Trojans have fallen after losing Tribune Player of the Year Grant Jerrett to graduation and coach Eric Cooper and his son Eric Jr. to St. Anthony of Long Beach.
New head coach Brandon Lee was an assistant under Cooper and also was a standout at Glendora in the 1990s, so he knows the area.
Lutheran lost early in the Rose City Classic and will continue to play in tough tournaments and regular-season games for the remainder of the season as the school is playing a freelance schedule.
There’s still talent for Lee to work with in 6-foot-9 center Alpha Ndaw and 6-5 forward Joe Rushing.
7. WALNUT (7-3)
Yet another contender in the deep Hacienda League.
The Mustangs always seem to be playing their best ball of the season at the right time of year for underrated coach Josh Cameron.
Walnut reached the semifinals of the Glendora Tournament before bowing out against eventual tourney champ Glendora. It actually was the second time the Mustangs played Glendora, the first being a three-point loss.
8. COVINA (7-3)
The Colts got a huge win earlier this week over archrival Northview. That performance and the emergence of guard Mike Peters as one of the area’s most electric players stamps Covina as the favorite in the Valle Vista League.
The Colts aren’t quite as tall as last season, so that might be a bit of a worry when they step up in class. Covina has split two games with Diamond Ranch this season and has its own tournament coming up next week to further showcase itself as one of the top teams in the area.
9. BONITA (5-3)
We’d be all set to write off the Bearcats in the Hacienda League were it not for their win over La Canada on Dec. 15.
That showing proves Bonita is still dangerous for coach Greg Eckler, who always has his teams playing their best ball at the right time of year.
The league is wide open this season and the Bearcats are the defending champs, but losing league MVP Garrett Horine to graduation was a major blow.
10. LOS ALTOS (6-3)
The overall record looks nice and paints the Conquerors as another team believing it can win a wide-open Hacienda League.
Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas is one of the best in the area and may not always have the best talent around, but he still can muster a 15-win season like last year and stun somebody along the way.
The Conquerors simply have been taking care of business this season and will need to be on their best behavior in January in order to compete with the league’s top teams.
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The Sierra Vista girls soccer team had no problems in a 6-0 win over Ganesha.
The Dons received a strong performance from Jessica Lopez, a junior forward who had a goal and three assists.
On the season, Lopez has 14 goals and 17 assists.
Sierra Vista (9-1-0, 4-0-0) wasted little time in getting down to business as it scored in the seventh, ninth, 50th, 55th, 72nd and 75th minutes.
By John Sherrard, Correspondent
LA PUENTE - Bishop Amat, behind a big second half from its two big men, defeated visiting Whittier 59-51 in a nonleague game for both teams Wednesday night at Bishop Amat High.
Senior forwards Jeffrey Wold and Joseph Cook led the Lancers with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Whittier was led by senior Justin Mendoza with 11 points and junior Guillermo Blas with 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
The game was a final tune-up for both teams before they play in post-Christmas tournaments.
Whittier will host its third annual Holiday Classic, while Amat plays in the Covina Christmas tournament next week.
“They (Wold and Cook) did a good job, especially in the second half,” Bishop Amat coach Brandon Ertle said. “Our guards did a good job getting the ball down into position to them.”
By John Honell, Correspondent
COVINA - Rivalry games are usually played at the end of the season with league titles and bragging rights for next season on the line.
In a matchup of last year’s Valle Vista League co-champions, the Covina boys basketball team came away with a 73-56 road victory over crosstown foe Northview (4-6, 0-1) in the league opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
That gave the Colts (7-3,1-0) a three-game winning streak over the Vikings. They swept the season series last year to help them get their first league title since 1985.
Valle Vista League play began before the Covina Christmas Tournament for the first time in recent memory.
“I wasn’t really in favor of starting league before the Christmas tourney,” Colts coach Will Bissman said. “But, if you can get a couple of wins it really does help, so it worked out.”
The Vikings had no answer for Colts senior point guard Mike Peters. He had 20 points at halftime and finished with 32 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead all scorers.
“This is a rivalry game,” Peters said. “I love playing in it. This is my senior year, I’ve beaten Northview five out of the seven games we’ve played. We want to win another title and I want to go out with another one. I was just playing basketball, and my shots were falling.”
A 12-0 run to end the first quarter broke a 7-7 tie and the Colts never looked back.
Matt Hicks put back a shot to tie the score at 7-7 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. The officials had to call a timeout because of confusion at the scorer’s table and that was it for the Vikings.
Eddie Hays and Blythe Curry hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Colts followed with layups off three quick turnovers for a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We had some really bad turnovers,” Vikings coach Ron Rice said. “We threw some cross-court passes and they picked them off.
“At times, especially in the first half, we had the wrong player shooting the ball. We’re playing a freshman and sophomore, and the other kids off the bench are young with no varsity experience.”
The Vikings picked up the pace in the second quarter, but Peters scored 16 points, including a 25-foot 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the half.
That kept the Colts’ margin at 12 as they took a 32-20 lead into the locker room at the break.
“We tried a couple of different things on him,” Rice said of Peters. “We didn’t have the answer tonight. He’s mighty good. He’ll be a challenge the next time we play them, but he’ll be a challenge for everybody in the league.”
Curry hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the third quarter, but the Vikings stormed back behind the 3-point shooting of Uly Aparicio. Aparicio was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc in the quarter. He ended up with five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points.
“You’re always in danger in a Covina-Northview game,” Bissman said. “I’ve been in so many of these where one team is up in a game by 20, then they lost it. Strange things happen in these games, so you never relax.”
The Vikings pulled within nine points twice in the second half when senior James Cunnigan got inside to score. He led the Vikings with 24 points.
“Our goal was to keep them to one shot,” Bissman said. “We didn’t do so well in the first half and they got a couple of easy putbacks.”
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
The remarkable turnaround being orchestrated by the Charter Oak High School girls soccer team continued on Tuesday afternoon.
The Chargers, 3-18-3 last year, remained undefeated this season with a 2-0 win over visiting Los Altos (6-4-2) in a nonleague game. Charter Oak is now 7-0 and giving every impression it will give a much better account of itself in the Sierra League when league action begins next month.
“It’s a big win for us, this was our step-up game,” Charter Oak head coach Kevin Harshberger said. “Los Altos, we’ve never been able to beat them since I’ve been here. They have a solid defense and a fantastic team, so this was a big really win for us.”
How times have changed. When was the last time South Hills led our boys soccer rankings and when was the last time Mountain View didn’t make the cut? Even in the CIF-SS polls, South Hills is tied for 10th in powerful Division 1 with Sierra Vista fourth and Duarte ninth in Division 4. Baldwin Park is No. 2 in D-5. Teams to watch out for that have greatly improved are Nogales, a flash from the past and Walnut — two teams that are unbeaten if records are accurate on Maxpreps. The league we’re going to pay close attention to is the Sierra. South Hills, Damien, Ayala, Claremont and Chino Hills are all capable of beating each other. Does the Sierra belong in D-1? Probably not, but it’s clearly the area’s best league.
Boys Soccer Tribune Rankings
1. South Hills (6-0-2)
2. Sierra Vista (6-1-2)
3. Damien (3-1-1)
4. Ayala (2-1-2)
5. Nogales (4-0)
6. Walnut (3-0-1)
7. Los Altos (4-2)
8. Baldwin Park (3-2-1)
9. Duarte (2-2)
10. Bishop Amat (2-2)
BOYS SOCCER, CIF POLLS
1. Ventura, 2. San Clemente, 3. Loyola, 4. Millikan, 5. Palos Verdes, 6. Leuzinger, 7. Valley View, 8. Santa Barbara, 9. Los Alamitos 10T. El Toro, 10T. South Hills
1. Cathedral, 2. Oak Hills, 3. Artesia, 4. Sierra Vista, 5. Hart, 6. Bellflower, 7. Norwalk, 8. Salesian, 9. Duarte, 10. Lawndale
1. Granite Hills, 2. Baldwin Park, 3. Pioneer Valley, 4. Crossroads, 5. La Canada, 6. Saddleback, 7. Marshall, 8. San Luis Obispo, 9. Santiago/ Garden Grove, 10. San Jacinto
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
Jude Oliva resigned as San Gabriel High School varsity football head coach on Monday after three seasons. He was 17-17 at the school.
Oliva cited health, career and family reasons for his decision to step down. Oliva suffered from gout and kidney issues this season, which caused severe joint pain.
He and his wife just welcomed a newborn daughter. Oliva was not a full-time teacher at San Gabriel and will look for more gainful employment while also not ruling out a return to the sideline.
Note from Covina coach Will Bissman:
“We had a last minute drop out and must find a team to fill in 16-team bracket. There will be no charge. All games played in the recently remodeled Covina High school gym. If interested, please contact Coach Bissman immediately by phone, text, or e-mail; (626) 484-6383; firstname.lastname@example.org
2. La Salle
4. Cal (Whittier)
6. Bishop Amat
7. Los Altos
8. South Hills
10. Charter Oak
11. Mountain View
12. Sierra Vista
13. South El Monte
GLENDORA WINS: Playing its most complete game of the season, a young Glendora boys basketball team won its own tournament with a 62-49 win over Keppel on Saturday night at Glendora High.
The Tartans (10-1) hit from long range in the first quarter and got to the basket in the second as they jumped out to a 40-22 halftime lead and never looked back.
“This is the longest stretch staying focused and executing we’ve gone this year,” Tartans coach Mike LeDuc said. “In the second quarter and some of the third we ran a lot of plays. I was really pleased how we hung with it for that period of time.”
BISHOP AMAT GIRLS WIN SECOND TOURNEY: Defense wins championships and the Bishop Amat High School girls basketball team proved that again with a 45-28 victory over Sonora in the 18th annual Lady Knights’ Christmas Classic title game Saturday at Arroyo High.
The Lancers won their sixth consecutive Arroyo tournament title and 11th overall.
Leading the way for Amat was junior Paulina Santana, who had 14 points and was named tournament MVP.