About Steve Ramirez

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

Softball: Bishop Amat gets revenge on rival St. Paul; takes over first in 11-3 win

By Stephen Ramirez
Bishop Amat High School, after being swept by rival St. Paul last season, waited nearly a year for redemption against the Swordsmen.
The Lancers didn’t waste the opportunity Monday.
Alyssa Barrera and Julia Menrad had three RBIs each and Bishop Amat enacted some sweet revenge with an 11-3 victory over St. Paul in a Del Rey League softball game at York Field.
Menrad and Barrera also hit home runs for the Lancers, who took over first place at 9-4 overall and 3-0 in league play. Niko Walker had two hits and Taylor Fogle a two-run triple for the Swordsmen, who slipped to 11-6 and 3-1.

Bishop Amat’s Alyssa Barrera: “We really wanted this game, especially because of what happened last year. Our goal was to not let (St. Paul sweep three games) ever again. We came out on the field, every inning wanting to win this game. Every at-bat, we all were 100-percent in, and we came out with a great win.”

St. Paul’s Taylor Fogle: “I felt I needed to do something with my bat. When I got up there and she (Bishop Amat’s Samaria Diaz) threw me that pitch, I was like, ‘I got to hit that.’ When I hit (it), I felt, ‘Whoo, there’s a fire right there.’ We were right there.”

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Damien punches ticket to state title game, holds off Cathedral, 68-62

Damien head coach Matt Dunn reacts after a basket against Cathedral in the second half of the CIF State Division 3 Regional Basketball Final at Colony High School in Ontario, Calif., on Saturday, March 21, 2015. Damien won 68-62. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Damien head coach Matt Dunn reacts after a basket against Cathedral in the second half of the CIF State Division 3 Regional Basketball Final at Colony High School in Ontario, Calif., on Saturday, March 21, 2015. Damien won 68-62. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

ONTARIO — The best season in Damien High School basketball history will include a trip to Berkeley.
Bryce Peters had 20 points and Jeremy Hemsley had 17 and the Spartans scored their first trip to the CIF State championships with a 68-62 victory over Cathedral Saturday in the Division III Southern California Regional final at Colony High School.
Malik Fitts also had 15 points for No. 2 seed Damien, which improved to 28-5 and will face Campolindo, a 50-44 winner over Drake, for the state title next Friday at 4 p.m. at the University of California.
Kobe Paras had 23 points and Milan Acquah 17 for No. 1 Cathedral, which finished 22-8.
“It’s really special,” Damien coach Matt Dunn, whose Spartans won a CIF-Southern Section title in 2013. “It’s the one thing this group hasn’t done yet. They won a CIF championship when they were sophomores, won a (Baseline) League championship this year, so to get to the state title game is very special.”

For a brief moment, Cathedral looked like it might steal the opportunity from Damien. The Phantoms, who trailed by 16 in the first half and 12 early in the fourth quarter used an 8-2 run to pull within 57-52 following a 3-pointer by Acquah and a putback by Paras with 3:14 left.
But the Spartans countered with a surge of their own to put it away. Micah Robinson buried a 3-pointer at 2:30 for a 62-52 lead and Fitts, following a steal by Hemsley, sealed with a dunk for a 64-57 lead with 46 seconds left.

“We let up a little bit,” said Hemsley, who also had seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. “But we ended up getting the rebounds and stops that we needed to win the game.
“We shared the ball, which I think was key part of us winning the game. Cathedral is more of a one-on-one type team, so we shared the ball, and that contributed a lot to the win.”
Damien, getting 10 points each from Hemsley and Peters, led 31-21 at halftime. The Spartans took control early, breaking from the tip with a 9-3 blitz before using a 7-0 surge to go up 31-15 on a 3-pointer by Peters with 2:21 left in the half.
Paras, who had 16 points in the first half, hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 31-21 at halftime.
Cathedral, getting five of six free throws and a layup from Acquah cut it to 36-31 lead early in the third quarter. But Damien countered with consecutive layups by Fitts for a 43-35 lead going to the fourth.
The Spartans then held off a second Cathedral surge to win, 68-62, and advance to the state title game.
“At this moment, I just want to win the state championship,” Hemsley said. “I’m glad we got the win, I’m glad we’re going to the championship, but I’m looking to win it now.”

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CCCAA Basketball Championships: Mt. SAC women, East Los Angeles women lose title games

By Stephen Ramirez
Mt. San Antonio College waited a year for a chance to get back to the California Community College Athletic Association women’s basketball title game.
The wait for state championship No. 7 will be a little longer.
Michelle Townsend hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left and Chabot, of Hayward, upset top the No. 1 Mounties, 63-58, in the CCCAA title game Sunday at Cerritos College.
Morgan Green scored 26 points and Townsend had 15 for the Gladiators, who finished 31-3 and won their first state championship.

Mt. SAC’s Priscilla Lopez drives the baseline on Chabot’s Brianna Booker during Sunday’s CCCAA women’s championship game. photo by blaine ohigashi

Mt. SAC’s Priscilla Lopez drives the baseline on Chabot’s Brianna Booker during Sunday’s CCCAA women’s championship game. photo by blaine ohigashi

Priscilla Lopez had 14 points and Sashanique Youngblood 13 for Mt. SAC, which finished 34-1. The Mounties lost in the title game last season.

“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Mt. SAC coach Brian Crichlow said. “I know myself and the young ladies, we’re all hurting. We set goals at the beginning of the year and we were able to set all of them, except this one. But it doesn’t diminish the fact they were 34-1 and they played hard every game.
“It’s a little disappointing, but it’s life. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Unfortunately, we came up on the wrong end.”
It seemed to be there for the taking for Mt. SAC, which used an 18-5 blitz for a 32-28 lead at halftime. But the Mounties couldn’t shake Chabot, which got a 3-pointer from Green and two inside shots from Alana Simon (17 points) to draw even at 58 with 1:35 to play.
Townsend then hit a 3-pointer for a 61-58 lead before Lopez and Youngblood missed 3-pointers with 30 seconds left and Lopez was long on a short jumper in the final seconds.
“Not being able to hit shots down the stretch hurt us,” Crichlow said. “We made some mistakes late, and it hurt us. It’s a tough way to go out this way when you fought so hard to get here.”

The Huskies, after an incredible run from No. 13 seed to the title game, finally ran out of magical moments.
Conor Clifford scored 16 points and the Gauchos (32-2) closed with a 10-2 run to secure their third CCCAA title since 2002 and deny the Huskies their first.
Marquis Salmon had 15 points for East Los Angeles, which finished 23-10. The Huskies had a chance to tie it late. But Te’Shon Burton missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left and Saddleback’s Dusty Baker intercepted a pass at the buzzer.

“We just didn’t execute down the stretch,” East L.A coach John Mosley said. “It was a little loud,a little noisy. We didn’t get a good possession at the end. But I’m proud of these guys and what they’ve accomplished.”

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CCCAA Final Four: Ex-Arroyo star Primitivo Gomez scores 21 points to lead East Los Angeles College into men’s basketball state title game

By Stephen Ramirez
East Los Angles College’s incredible playoff run will take the Huskies to the California Community College Athletic Association men’s basketball state championship game.
Former Arroyo High School standout Primitivo Gomez scored 23 points and Je’Ron Primus had 17 as East. L.A. continued its recent magic with a 94-83 victory over Merritt, of Oakland, in the state semifinals at Cerritos College on Friday.
Marcus Romain and Marquis Salmon also had 12 points each for the Huskies, who improved to 22-10 and advanced to face either Saddleback or Canada, of Redwood City, in Sunday’s title game at 1 p.m.
Gomez also had 12 rebounds for East L.A., which began the playoffs seeded No. 13 in the South.
DJ Kennedy had 20 points and Travon King had 19 points for Merritt, which finished 25-6.
East L.A. showed solid poise down the stretch, turning away two late pushes by the Thunderbirds to advance.

Merritt, the No. 1 seed from the North, trailed most of the game, but stalked the Huskies late, cutting a nine-point deficit to 81-79 with three minutes left.
East L.A., getting two free throws and a putback from Richard Bivens, pushed the lead to 87-81 with 1:04 to play before making five of six free throws down the stretch to seal it. The Huskies closed the game with a 9-2 surge.

East L.A.’s Primitivo Gomez: “It’s a great feeling. All of us felt a little bit disrespected (at the start of the playoffs), but we’ve worked really hard. We’re a team that believes in ourselves and that’s what matters. We play hard as a unit, and when you play as a unit, that’s how you win.”

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Softball: Claremont knocks off Charter Oak 6-4 in quarterfinals of Charter Oak tourney

Charter Oak Softball Tournament
Wednesday’s quarterfinals at Big League Dreams, West Covina
All Games at 3:15 p.m.

La Serna 4, Burbank 2
St. Paul 3, Yorba Linda 1
Upland 3, La Habra 1
Claremont 6, Charter Oak 4
Friday’s semifinals at 3:15 p.m.
La Serna vs. St. Paul
Upland vs. Claremont

By Stephen Ramirez
It wasn’t perfect, but coming off a tough loss, winning mattered most for the Charter Oak High School softball team on Monday.
Cloe Ochoa had three hits and three RBIs and was steady in the circle to lead the Chargers to a 6-4 victory over Montebello in Chargers Classic first-round game at Big League Dreams Park.
Marissa Chavez also had two hits and a RBI for Charter Oak, which improved to 4-1. The Chargers will face Claremont, a 4-2 winner over Bishop Amat, in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m.
Destenie Castillo and Mariah Ginez each had a RBI for the Oilers, who slipped to 1-1. Montebello faces Bishop Amat in a consolation quarterfinal at 3:30 p.m. today.

Charter Oak coach Scott Higuera: “I thought Chloe pitched very well and we were able to bounce back from a tough loss on Saturday. It’s always important to forget the tough ones go and move on to the next game. I feel we did that. We didn’t’ play real crisp, like we like to, but overall, I’m happy with the win of course, but we need to get back to work at practice tomorrow and get ready to face Claremont on Wednesday.”

Montebello coach Laurie Capps: “I’m proud of the way we bounced back. It’s only our second game of the season. We didn’t falter, which I’m proud of. We hung in there. We did a good job.”

Charter Oak’s Cloe Ochoa: “I just wanted to give back to my team, since they help me so much on defense. I wanted to make it a little less stressful on the field for them.”

Charter Oak Softball tournament
Monday’s first round results at Big League Dreams
Upper Bracket

La Serna 10, Alhambra 0
Burbank 9, Covina 0
St. Paul 8, Bonita 0
Yorba Linda 6, Glendora 4
Lower Bracket
Upland 6, San Dimas 2
La Habra 4, Los Altos 3
Claremont 4, Bishop Amat 2
Charter Oak 6, Montebello 4

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CIF State Wrestling Finals: San Marino’s Julian Flores wins state title

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Julian Flores, along with brothers Zander and Evan Wick, were the core of San Marino High School’s rise from afterthought to one of the top wrestling programs in the state.
Saturday, Flores climbed the highest mountain, scoring the 132-pound title at the CIF State wrestling championships at Rabobank Arena.
He’s San Marino’s first state champion.

“It’s unbelievable,” Flores said. “I really didn’t have a good postseason, but it all matters here in March. I just let it go. It was amazing.”
Flores title capped a stellar day for San Marino, which also had Zander Wick place second at 145, with Zander Silva (113), Luke Troy (152) and Evan Wick (138) all earning top-eight medals.
But Saturday was all about Flores, who opened the day with a 5-2 win over Pitman’s Angel Velasquez in the semifinals before scoring a 3-1 win over Mission Oak’s Jaden Enriquez in the final.
He used an escape with 1:25 left in regulation to force overtime before taking down Enriquez early in the extra period for the win.
“I wasn’t really panicking,” Flores said. “I knew I would get a takedown some how. I didn’t know what I was going to do exactly, but I just hit on something.”
Zander Wick, after beating Palm Desert’s Anthony Mantanona in the semifinals, was hoping to join his teammate atop the podium. But was denied by Poway’s Ralphy Tovar, 5-0.
“He definitely knew what I was going to do,” Wick said. He slowed me down and I couldn’t get any of my offense. I tried my all, but it just wasn’t good enough.
“As far as the season, I did really well this year. I didn’t place here last year. To make it to the finals is a huge accomplishment, but it’s always a bummer when you lose in the finals.”
It was also a strong weekend for area competitors, who scored 10 medals. The others were San Dimas’ David Gonzalez (113, third), San Marino’s Silva (113, fifth), Wick (138, fourth) and Troy (152, third); Northview’s Richie Casillas (120, seventh) and Ricky Padilla (160, sixth); Sonora’s Russell Rohlfing (126, sixth) and Bishop Amat’s Nigel Ruiz (145, seventh).
Gonzalez fought back from 6-3 loss to Clovis’ Justin Meija in Friday’s quarterfinals to win four consecutive bouts on Saturday. He beat De La Salle’s Donovin Guerrero, 4-2, to take third.
“(Third is) the closest thing you can get in the consolation bracket,” Gonzalez said. “I came here to take first. Lost a tough one in the quarterfinals yesterday, and came back strong today.
“Once you lose, you can’t do any better. I wrestled my heart out. I can believe how fast these past four years have flown by. Everything worked out the way it did.”
Northview’s Joe Dominguez (145) and Damien’s Patrick Sanchez (285) lost in the consolation fifth round and will not medal.


David Gonzalez, San Dimas, 3rd
Zander Silva, San Marino, 5th
Richie Casillas, Northview, 7th
Russell Rohlfing, Sonora, 6th
Julian Flores, San Marino, Champion
Evan Wick, San Marino 4th
Zander Wick, San Marino, 2nd
Nigel Ruiz, Bishop Amat, 7th
Luke Troy, San Marino, 3rd
Ricky Padilla, Northview, 6th

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CIF State Wrestling Championships: Area bites back with six semifinalists

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Area wrestlers, after not producing a state finalists the previous two seasons, had their day of redemption on Friday
Six locals advanced to the semifinals, with six others in line to earn top-eight medals highlighted the first day of the CIF State championships at Rabobank Arena.
San Marino, which won its first CIF-Southern Section Masters title last week, continued its upward trend, getting four to this morning’s semifinals. Julian Flores (132 pounds), who had advanced to the semifinals the past two seasons, led the contingent that also includes Zander Silva (113), Zander Wick (145) and Luke Troy (152).
Northview’s Ricky Padilla (160) and Sonora’s Russell Rohlfing (126) round out the area semifinalists.
The six will face morning matches beginning at 9:30 a.m. for a chance to advance to the finals, scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

“It’s great,” said Flores, of San Marino’s effort. “As a team, we want to be on top. Hopefully, we can continue to do well in this tournament.”
Still alive for a top-eight finish are San Dimas’ David Gonzalez (113); Northview’s Richie Casillas (120) and Joe Dominguez (145); San Marino’s Evan Wick (138); Bishop Amat’s Nigel Ruiz (145) and Damien’s Patrick Sanchez (285).
All but Dominguez advanced to the quarterfinals before losing. All will also need to win in the consolation fifth round, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., to earn a top-eight medal.
Dominguez lost in the third round, but came back to win two consolation rounds to advance to today.
Flores was steady all day, scoring two close decisions before dominating Kenny Jones (Lassen), 10-1, in the quarterfinals.
“It’s nice to be back in the semis,” Flores said. “The last two years I made it to the semis and failed to do what I set out to do. This year, I have so much more confidence, and I feel a lot more confident for tomorrow.”
Silva was dominant at 113, earning a technical fall and a win by fall before beating Javier Alaniz (Clovis West), 10-2, in the quarterfinals.
Troy and Padilla advance after earning Master titles last week.

“It’s not my goal (to just get to the semis),” Padilla said. “I want to be at the top of the podium at the end of the day.”
Rohlfing advanced after losing in the quarterfinals last season.

“Last year, I lost in the quarters, so this is really big for me,” Rohlfing said. “I’m really excited. I’m just going to take it to him.”
Failing to qualify for today were Montebello’s Nico Gomez (106); Bishop Amat’s Sidney Flores (106); Northview’s Andres Hooper (126) , Andres Estrada (132) and Roger Arce (170); Sonora’s Josh Kawaguchi (132); California’s Richard Pocock (132); Charter Oak’s Antonio Zavala (152) and San Marino’s Aaron Padilla (160)

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