About Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez has covered prep sports for San Gabriel Valley Newspapers since 1989.

Walnut finishes third in Covina boys basketball title; J.W. North wins it.

Walnut's Agassi Goantara (24) fights for the ball with JW North's Sadiq Muhammad as teammate Mason Westlake (12) looks on in the first half of a Covina Christmas Tournament prep basketball game at Covina High School in Covina, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016.(Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Walnut’s Agassi Goantara (24) fights for the ball with JW North’s Sadiq Muhammad as teammate Mason Westlake (12) looks on in the first half of a Covina Christmas Tournament prep basketball game at Covina High School in Covina, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016.(Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)


By Stephen Ramirez
COVINA — There will be no local teams in the Covina High School boys basketball tournament championship game, but Walnut made a strong run Wednesday.Cameron Nunley tipped in a putback shot with three seconds left and J.W. North rallied for a 60-58 victory over the Mustangs in the semifinals at Covina High.
Walnut (10-5) had a chance to win it, but Eli Ramos’ desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was wide.
North (8-3) will face Cajon, a 72-60 winner over Fremont, in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Walnut faces Fremont at 6.
Mason Westlake led North with 17 points. Ryan Dai had 17 for Walnut.

“We played well,” Walnut coach Joe Khouzam said. “We had a couple of mental breakdowns at the wrong time. But I love this group. They fight, they don’t quit. It’s a young group and they are learning. I’m happy with how we played tonight.”
Walnut almost got it done. But North used a 15-8 blitz down the stretch to win.
The Huskies trailed most of the second half before putting together an 8-3 surge to take a 51-50 lead on a LaShawn Jackson’ 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining.
The teams then traded baskets before Walnut’s Andrew Lee (nine points) drained a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to tie it at 58.
North then ran the clock down to about 10 seconds left when Melvin Walker missed from just inside the free-throw line. Nunley (13 points, 7 rebounds) got the rebound and tipped in an off-balance putback for the 60-58 lead.
Ramos took the in-bounds pass before missing his 3-pointer from just inside the half-court line at the buzzer.
“(North’s) last possession, we were trying to get it out of their best shooter’s hands,” Khouzam said. “We emphasized blocking out. But they got a lot of size on us and got the tip back.
“Last play, we were trying to get a deep pass down (the court). It didn’t work out as well as we wanted it to go.”
North, getting seven points from Walker and six from Westlake, led 26-25 at halftime.
Walnut opened the third quarter with a 10-5 blitz to lead 35-31 before finishing the quarter with a 7-5 run for a 42-38 lead.
The Mustangs pushed the advantage to five points twice in the fourth before North rallied.
“Tomorrow is a big game for us,” Khouzam said. “We always want to come out of a tournament 3-1 or 4-0. We still have that opportunity. If we win, we’ll get out of here 3-1, which is really good for us.”

The annual Covina Boys Basketball Christmas knockout tournament starts on Monday. Here’s the schedule, will update scores during the week.

Monday’s First Round
Top Bracket

Cajon 74, South El Monte 38
South Hills 65, Sierra Vista 40
Fremont 67, Lakeside 64
Mountain View 84, Northview 79
Bottom Bracket
Bishop Amat 81, Duarte 11
Walnut 60, California 31
JW North 76, Arroyo 27
Florida Ransom Everglades 42, Covina 34
Tuesday’s quarterfinals
Cajon 76, South Hills 70, OT
Fremont 67, Mountain View 65
Walnut 62, Bishop Amat 59
J.W North 50, Florida Ransom Everglades 43
Wednesday’s semifinals
Cajon 72, Fremont 60
J.W. North 60, Walnut 58
Thursday’s championship
J.W. North 49, Cajon 38
Third place game
Walnut 65, Fremont 61

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Mt. SAC to hold baseball camp

mt-sac-camp

The Mt. San Antonio College baseball program and coach John Knott will conduct a baseball came on Dec. 17-18.
The camp is for kids ages 5-14 and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day at Mazmanian Field in Walnut.
Cost is for $175. Parking is $4 per day.
For more information, call assistant coach Ryan Doran at (714) 398-5424, or email him at rdoran@mtsac.edu.

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Northview wrestling coach David Ochoa’s CIF-SS title rings stolen

rings
By Stephen Ramirez
The office of Northview High School wrestling coach David Ochoa was broken into Wednesday night.Ochoa, who has built the Vikings into one of the top programs in the state, said his 19 CIF Southern Section championship rings were taken, along with his laptop, some Chromebooks and a scale.Ochoa’s office is located in the wing of rooms off Homerest Avenue in Covina.
“I think, unfortunately, it was (some) students,” Ochoa said. “I guess it’s been happening. I didn’t realize that.
“I had some Chromebooks in the office, so they took those, my laptop, a very expensive scale I had in here, and my rings. I don’t think (the suspects) were in here all that long, but they took the stuff that was the most expensive, I guess.”
While the rings are a sentimental loss for Ochoa and symbolize what the program has accomplished in 20-plus seasons, the theft of his laptop is a more instant hit.
“I’ll be honest, those rings are not that important to me,” Ochoa said. “I was fortunate enough to be there when those kids won the championships and I know how hard they worked. I was there. That means more to me than any ring.
“But my laptop? It had everything. I’ve worked really hard to keep records of all our kids from year to year. It had just a lot of pictures of kids and different stuff they’ve done over the years. That can’t be replaced. You have stuff on your computer and when someone asks for something, you can get it to them. I’m not going to be able to do that anymore. That’s the hard part for me.”
The CIF-SS championship rings were in a display box. Four of them were made of gold, with the other 15 silver.
“At this point, I just want the rings (returned),” Northview principal Julie Harrison said. “It’s really sad this happened. My hope is by getting the word out that they’ll surface.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call Harrison at the school at 626-974-6121.

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Diamond Bar comes up short in D6 water polo semifinals

Diamond Bar’s Kris Chang (8), left, gets a pass by Roosevelt’s Kierin Daughtery (11), right, during Wednesday night’s CIF-SS Division 6 Boys Water Polo semifinal match between Diamond Bar and Roosevelt at Norco High School in Norco, CA Wednesday, November 16, 2016. (Photo by Mark Dustin for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Diamond Bar’s Kris Chang (8), left, gets a pass by Roosevelt’s Kierin Daughtery (11), right, during Wednesday night’s CIF-SS Division 6 Boys Water Polo semifinal match between Diamond Bar and Roosevelt at Norco High School in Norco, CA Wednesday, November 16, 2016. (Photo by Mark Dustin for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune)


By Stephen Ramirez
NORCO >>
Diamond Bar High School playing Eastvale’s Roosevelt was a surprise matchup in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 boys water polo semifinals. But it’s the host Mustangs who will get the chance to live out their Cinderella dream in Saturday’s final.Bryce Beatty scored six goals and Trevor Seifen stopped 10 shots and Roosevelt held off Diamond Bar to score a 6-5 victory over the Brahmas at Norco High.
Roosevelt (21-13), an at-large entry from the Big VIII League that upset No. 2 seed Ocean View in the quarterfinals, will face top seed Xavier Prep, an 8-4 winner over Alta Loma, in Saturday’s championship game at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Complex in Irvine.
Diego Hammond had two goals and Sebastian Houng had 12 saves for Diamond Bar (21-12), which was in the semifinals for the first time in school history.

The Brahmas, who led 3-2 at halftime, had a chance to tie it late, but were unable to get a shot off in the closing seconds.
“It feels great,” Beatty said. “Senior year, going far … It’s good.”
Beatty scored four goals in the second half, including the game-winner from the hole with 5:31 left in the fourth quarter.
Seifen made it stand with two big saves with four, and then three, minutes to play.
Diamond Bar, which was shut out in the final quarter, had two chances to tie it in the final minute. The Brahmas forced a turnover with 39 seconds left, but a long pass was intercepted with 34 seconds to give it back to the Mustangs, who then took a shot-clock violation, leaving Diamond Bar just 4 seconds remaining.
The Brahmas got the ball to Dario Mariani, who was unable to get a shot off.
“(Roosevelt) played great defense,” Diamond Bar co-head coach Kevin Hammond said. “They have got a great goalie (Seifen) in the cage to back them up and they took away our game plan. They played great today.”
Aaron Velarde, Hammond and Mariani all had first-half goals to give Diamond Bar a 3-2 lead at halftime. But Beatty scored three times in the third quarter for a 5-4 lead, and then the game-winner in the fourth.
“Coach (Tyler Harp) told us at halftime to just play with our heart,” Beatty said. “Who ever plays hardest wins. They gave us a good fight. It was a good game.”

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2016 CIF-SS Football Division Playoff Groupings

vaun

The CIF Southern Section released its new playoff division groupings for the 2016 football season Thursday. Below is where area teams were placed.
The CIF-SS also released playoff groupings for girls volleyball, boys water polo and girls tennis.
HERE’S THE FULL STORY: Arguably the most important news of the season came early for local high school football teams on Friday when the CIF Southern Section released its playoff groupings for the upcoming season two months sooner than expected.Originally, teams thought they’d be getting their divisional assignments in August, but given that this is the first year CIF-SS is using a playoff groupings system that uses competitive equity as its only deciding factor, the Southern Section felt it necessary to get the jump on any potential mistakes.“The sooner it’s out there, the more time we have until August to fix anything we don’t know of,” CIF-SS Director of Information Thom Simmons said. “We feel pretty confident that we have with football is going to be the final version. But I can’t say that until August, when, via the bylaws, we stated we will be releasing the final version.”
DIVISION 1
Bishop Amat
DIVISION 2
La Habra
DIVISION 3
St. Francis
La Serna
La Mirada
DIVISION 4
Charter Oak
Glendora
Damien
DIVISION 5
Sonora
DIVISION 6
West Covina
San Marino
Bonita
Los Altos
DIVISION 7
Diamond Ranch
South Hills
Monrovia
St. Paul
DIVISION 8
San Dimas
Northview
DIVISION 9
La Salle
El Rancho
Maranatha
California
Muir
Diamond Bar
DIVISION 10
Whittier
Santa Fe
Pasadena Poly
South Pasadena
DIVISION 11
Pioneer
Covina
Pasadena
Montebello
Arcadia
Rosemead
DIVISION 12
Schurr
Walnut
La Canada
Arroyo
Baldwin Park
Whittier Christian
Bassett
DIVISION 13
Rio Hondo Prep
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary
Rowland
Temple City
Azusa
El Monte
La Puente
Nogales
Alhambra
South El Monte
HH Wilson
Southlands Christian
Gabrielino
Blair
Mountain View
Sierra Vista
San Gabriel
Gladstone
Duarte
Bosco Tech
Keppel
Workman
Marshall

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Damien wins back-to-back CIF-SS boys volleyball titles

Damien Spartans of La Verne won the CIF-SS Division 5 boys volleyball championship against Laguna Blanca Owls of Santa Barbara by winning three matches in a row at Cerritos College Saturday, May 21, 2016.(Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

Damien Spartans of La Verne won the CIF-SS Division 5 boys volleyball championship against Laguna Blanca Owls of Santa Barbara by winning three matches in a row at Cerritos College Saturday, May 21, 2016.(Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)


By Stephen Ramirez
NORWALK >>
This area has produced its fair share of dynasty programs. You can add another one to the list.
Michael Spinney had 12 kills and Damien High School won it’s second consecutive CIF Southern Section Division 5 boys volleyball title by sweeping Laguna Blanca, of Santa Barbara, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23, at Cerritos College.

Jack Mitchner had 25 assists and Daniel Enriquez and Marco Rodriguez-Fleishman had five kills each for the Spartans, who improved to 32-7.
Damien, which beat Arrowhead Christian for the Division 5 title last season, dominated the playoffs, sweeping four of their five matches, only pushed to five sets by Santa Fe in the quarterfinals. The Spartans are also eligible for the CIF State Southern California Regionals, which begin next week. The pairings will be released Sunday.
Laguna Blanca, slipped 28-5.
“It feels great,” Spinney said. “We knew coming into the season we had a good chance. I’m just happy we were able to fulfill it.
“We played as a team throughout the season and it really came together at the end.”
The Spartans used the same formula in each set — breaking away during the mid-point to close strong and win.
Damien, after falling behind to begin the third set, used a 7-3 surge to rally for a 17-15 lead. The Spartans, getting an ace from Mitchner and a kills from Spinney and Enriquez, then closed the match by winning six of the final nine points, including a spike by Enriquez down the middle that began the celebration.
“That’s how we’ve been able to play,” said Damien coach Randy Bohlmann, whose program also boasts four consecutive league titles. “In the quarterfinals, we had some match points against us against Santa Fe. We were able to withstand those and win the match.
“We were very battle-tested. I thought we played really well all day today. Our passing was good. We played solid volleyball.”
The Spartans used a 7-3 surge to break free from a 12-12 tie for a 19-15 lead in the first set. Damien then won the final five points, getting an ace by Nick Hibshman and a kill by Andrew McCarson, to win, 25-18.
Laguna Blanca, which got 14 kills from Philip Fauntleroy and 13 from Chris Costantino, scored seven of the first 11 points in the second set. But couldn’t withstand another Damien blitz.
The Spartans, getting kills from Spinney and Rodriguez-Fleishman, then countered with an 8-3 surge to lead, 12-10.
Damien, after pushing it to 19-15, then closed the set with a 6-4 run, winning it on a kill by Enriquez.
The Spartans then clinched the match by winning the final two points of the third set.
“We just found a way to push through,” Spinney said. “We were able to come together when it really mattered. The last two matches we were able to fullfil our destiny. It feels great.”

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Softball: Bishop Amat beats rival St. Paul, 1-0

Bishop Amat starting pitcher Samaria Diaz, center, reacts along with her teammates after Sofia Saucedo (not pictured) scores against St. Paul in the sixth inning of a prep softball game at Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, Calif., on Wednesday, April, 20, 2016. Bishop Amat won 1-0. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Bishop Amat starting pitcher Samaria Diaz, center, reacts along with her teammates after Sofia Saucedo (not pictured) scores against St. Paul in the sixth inning of a prep softball game at Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, Calif., on Wednesday, April, 20, 2016. Bishop Amat won 1-0. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

SOFTBALL
DEL REY LEAGUE
BISIOP AMAT 1, ST. PAUL 0


LA PUENTE — Bishop Amat High School, after a rain-out and two failed attempts for make-up dates, finally got on the field with rival St. Paul on Wednesday, and it was worth the wait for the Lancers.
Samaria Diaz tossed a three-hit shutout and Maddie Ramirez went 2 for 3 with the only RBI to lead host Bishop Amat to a 1-0 victory over rival St. Paul in a Del Rey League softball game.
Julie Menrad also had two hits for the Lancers, who improved to 16-2 overall and 6-0 in league play. Emilee Leonard gave up seven hits and struck out four for the Swordsmen, who slipped to 13-7 and 4-2.
Bishop Amat, which stranded a runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings, finally broke through in the fifth. Bryanna Perez and Sofia Saucedo led off with consecutive singles. Ramirez then singled to center field with two outs to score Perez for a 1-0 lead.
SAFE OR OUT?:
St. Paul had a chance to tie it in the sixth. Jaclyn Candelas singled with two outs and Tatum Anzaldo was then hit by a pitch. Samantha Rivas followed with a single to center field.
Candelas tried to advance home, but pulled up and was trapped in a run-down. She then tried to avoid the tag from Diaz at the plate and was called out to end the inning.
Bishop Amat coach Kristen Dedmon: “Of course, there is a little extra incentive to beat St. Paul, because the history of the rivalry. I think ultimately, they (the Amat players) came out here ready to play. It doesn’t really matter who is in the other dugout, my girls come out ready to play. It was really great to see them bring it all together.”
St. Paul coach Dena Slye: “I feel in softball you have to take your chances. We have no instant replay, but I don’t know if the tag was made. But I’m proud of my girls. We fought, and we still have two more games (vs. Bishop Amat). I tell them all the time the first game is like a feel game. We just have to win the next two. The goal of the year is to win the series.”
Bishop Amat’s Maddie Ramirez: “When I went up there, I wasn’t over thinking,” Ramirez said. “I knew there was a runner in scoring position, so I knew I had to do my job and bring her in.”
— Stephen Ramirez

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