About Steve Ramirez

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

CIF SoCal Division III Basketball Finals: Ayala uses quick start to beat Bonita, 63-54

Ayala celebrates defeating Bonita 63-54 during the CIF-State Division III Southern California Regional finals at Colony High School in Ontario on Saturday, March 19, 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Ayala celebrates defeating Bonita 63-54 during the CIF-State Division III Southern California Regional finals at Colony High School in Ontario on Saturday, March 19, 2016. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)


ONTARIO — Ayala High School will get a chance to end its incredible season with a fantastic finish.John Edgar scored 23 points and the Bulldogs advanced to their first CIF State title game in program history with a 63-54 victory over Palomares League rival Bonita in the Southern California Division III final at Colony High School.
Austen Awosika also had 20 for Ayala, which improved to 33-3 and will face Manteca, a 70-45 winner over Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, for the state championship Thursday at 4 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Joe Quintana scored 24 points and Tyler Poepping had 12 for the Bearcats (28-7).
The key moment for Ayala came not in the final eight minutes, but the first eight. The Bulldogs held Bonita to two field goals in the first quarter for an 11-point advantage at 16-5. They never relinquished until the final minute.
Bonita, after trailing by double digits for most of the game, got two 3-pointers by Quintana to pull within 59-54 with 37 seconds left. But the Bearcats got no closer.
Awosika and Miles President combined on four free throws in the final 35 seconds to clinch it.
Ayala’s John Edgar: “I feel great right now. We’ve been working all year and this is a big thing for us. We have a great coach, a great team. We’ve just been doing it all year. We’re just going to keep on working and try to get another ring.”
Bonita coach Tim Godley: “A game like this, you have to start strong and we didn’t for whatever reason,” Bonita coach Tim Godley said. “I proud of my kids because they answered. The second half they played a lot better. I can’t fault our effort and I’m very proud of them at the end of the day.”
— Stephen Ramirez

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CIF State Wrestling: San Marino’s Wick brothers win state titles; Northview’s Comstock takes fourth

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
The Wick brothers reign supreme.
Zander and Evan Wick, two of the area’s best over the past three seasons, will finished on top, scoring 145 and 152-pound titles, respectively, at the CIF State wrestling championships at Rabobank Arena.
They are the first twin brothers to win state titles at the same event.
“It’s never happened before,” Evan Wick said. “It’s definitely exciting. We’re the first set of twins to win state titles.”
Evan Wick, who was fourth here at 138 last season, had a dominant run to the title. He had three wins by technical fall and two wins by fall, including pinning San Marcos’ Jett Moy in 39 seconds in the final.
He finishes the California season at 33-1.
“It’s awesome,” Wick said. “The fact I didn’t (win) last year makes it that much more awesome this year. I just wanted to dominate the entire tournament. I got three techs and two pins. I’m excited.”
So is brother Zander, who was nearly at dominate in taking the 145 title. He ran his record to 37-1 by scoring two falls and one technical fall before getting an 8-5 victory over No. 2 Ruben Garcia, of Selma, in the final.
“I’m really excited,” said Wick, who was runner-up last season. “I’m really happy. It sucked last year going home with that second place. It just feels like a dream. I got that ‘W,’ state champ. I couldn’t be happier.”
The other area top-eight medalists were Northview’s Steven Comstock (170, fourth), Eddie Flores (106, sixth) and Richie Casillas (120, seventh) and San Marino’s Julian Flores (138, fourth) and Zander Silva (126, seventh).
Bishop Amat’s Sidney Flores (113), Rowland’s Ethan Vistro (195) and Northview’s Jackson Serna (285) lost consolation fifth-round matches and did not medal.
Comstock’s fourth-place finish was one of the bigger stories of the weekend. The sophomore, who is also one the area’s top quarterbacks, went from a 24th state ranking three weeks ago to a top-four finish, which including advancing to the semifinals.
“My confidence was high coming off a big Masters tournament,” Comstock said. “I just had to prove myself to these guys (competitors). They’re all used to this state tournament and this was my first year here. I just wanted to prove myself to everyone in the state of California that I’m will be the best as long as I keep doing the hard work.”
He went 1-2 on Saturday after advancing to the semifinals on Friday. He lost to Palm Desert’s Anthony Mantanona by fall (:51) in the semifinals before splitting his last two bouts, defeating Trabuco Hills Lukas Howa (6-3) and losing to Windsor’s Dominic Ducharme (fall, 2:18).
“Now, that everyone knows who I am, I’ll have to work just as hard, if not harder,” Comstock said. “I was kind of a no-name coming into this tournament, so now I’ll be in the spot light and know I have to continue to work hard.”
Eddie Flores and Julian Flores lost in the semifinals.
Julian Flores, who was looking for a second consecutive state title, lost in overtime to Dinuba’s Jacob Wright, 3-2.

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CIF-SS Masters Wrestling: Northview, San Marino combine on seven titles; Area sends 20 to state


By Stephen Ramirez
Northview and San Marino high schools have been the area wrestling kings the past two seasons and they showed off their dominance Saturday.
The two area powers combined for seven individual titles at the CIF Southern Section Masters to finish second and third at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Calvary Chapel, of Santa Ana, topped the team standings.
San Marino scored a meet-best four titles, getting championship efforts from Zander Silva (126), Julian Flores (138) and the twin brothers tandem of Zander (145) and Evan Wick (152). Northview countered with titles from Eddie Flores (106), Richie Casillas (120) and Jackson Serna (Heavyweight). Casillas, Silva, Julian Flores and Zander Wick were repeat winners. Flores also won a state title last season.

The area qualified 20 to next week’s CIF State championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. The other area qualifiers were Northview’s Dominick Arellano (113, fifth), Ricky Marin (132, eighth), Steven Comstock (170, fourth) and Gabriel Ortiz (126, ninth); San Marino’s Aaron Padilla (160, eighth); Bishop Amat’s Sidney Flores (113, sixth); Gladstone’s Mario Barios (120, eighth); Walnut’s Micah Maes (160, seventh); Charter Oak’s Vincent Zavala (132, fifth); Santa Fe’s Damian Valdez (106, ninth); Rowland’s Ethan Vistro (195, sixth); California’s James Udell (220, ninth) and South Hills’ Austin Moreno (285, ninth).
Northview led the area and section with seven qualifiers.
“This tournament is so challenging that our mind-set was to just get our kids through and qualified to state,” Northview coach Bobby Bellamy said. “If we had an opportunity to win the tournament, we’d be OK with that. If not, (then it’s OK). I’m very pleased. We got seven kids to state, the most we’ve ever had. I’m extremely ecstatic.”
Casillas was also lower-weight MVP after scoring two wins by fall and one by technical fall. He beat La Quinta’s Joe Avila, 8-4, in the final.
“I wanted to get that two-time Masters championship,” Casillas said. “I just came out with all I had to accomplish my goal.”
Julian Flores, who won at 132 at the state championships last season, had one of more dominant finals, easily beating Mater Dei’s Devin Pacheco, 16-2, to take the 138 bout. He also had two wins by fall en route to the final.
“Winning two Masters titles is a blessing,” Flores said. “My first two years, I didn’t do well, so it’s a blessing. It’s an accomplishment.
“I just tried to take the match myself, and not let someone else control it. I just did my thing, my offense and don’t let him use his offense.”
Evan Wick, who was second last season, used a late takedown to score a 3-2 win over Riverside King’s Luke Troy, who transferred from San Marino.
“I was down by one, so I had to do what I had to do,” Wick said. “I got him with a single leg (takedown). We were (an inch) from being out of bounds, so I had to drag him back in. I finally got him back in, got the takedown, then rode him out for 21 seconds to take the win.”
Serna, ranked in the state top 10 by The California Wrestler all season, made history for the second consecutive week. He’s Northview’s first Masters heavyweight champion after becoming the Vikings’ first divisional heavyweight titlist last week. “It feels great, but a lot of hard work,” Serna said. “It’s a team effort, too. I couldn’t do this without my coaching staff. It’s a great honor. I hope I can win state next week, too.”

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Girls wrestling: Three area competitors take home second-place medals

No area girl was on the top of podium at the Girls CIF State wrestling championships Saturday, but the area did get four second-place finishes, while earning nine top-eight medals in Visalia.
The area medalists were West Covina’s Jennifer Lopez (116) and Yvette Garcia (160) and Baldwin Park’s McKayla Loza (189). The other top-eight placers were Diamond Ranch’s Trina Nguyen (101, sixth); Walnut’s Mia Dow (121, third); Sierra Vista’s Brianna Vilchis (126, eighth); Northview’s Mia Leon (143, third) and Deidra Valles (150, eighth); Bonita’s Natalie Romero (143, eighth).

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Northview wins another CIF-SS wrestling title

SANTA MARIA — It might be time to move the Northview High School wrestling team out of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division.The Vikings have been that dominant.
Northview, after easily winning the division last season with six individual champions, followed it up with four to score another division title Saturday at Santa Maria High School.
It was the Vikings’ sixth consecutive division title, and followed a Central Division dual title two weeks ago.
“It was the semifinals,” said Northview coach Bobby Bellamy of the Vikings going 8 for 8 in the round. “Our kids just really put it together. Everyone who wrestled, I felt, left every thing on the mat. They tried their hardest, and I couldn’t be more pleased with their effort, and the results. The kids got it done.”
Northview’s five champions were Eddie Flores (106 pounds), Richie Casillas (120), Andres Hooper (138), Steven Comstock (170) and Jackson La Serna (285). Flores and Casillas also won here last season.
Northview had eight competitors in the finals and will send nine to next week’s CIF-SS Masters Meet, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The top five in each weight class qualified for next weekend. The CIF State championships are scheduled for March 4-5 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Also qualifying for Northview were Dominick Arellano (113, second), Gabriel Cortez (126, second), Ricky Marin (132, second) and Leo Sanchez (182, fifth).
The other area qualifiers were Rowland’s Daniel Galvan (113, second) and Christian Ramirez (132, fourth) and La Mirada’s Richard Romo (120, fifth), Carlos Reyes (132, fifth) and Manuel Romero (138, fourth).

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West Covina shines at CIF-SS Girls Wrestling championships

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
West Covina High School has been one of the top girls wrestling programs in Southern California the past few seasons, and the Bulldogs lived up to that billing Saturday.
West Covina scored an event-high three individual champions for a strong fourth-place finish at the CIF Southern Section championships at Roosevelt High School.
Hillcrest won the team title, with Northview, led by 150-pound finalist Deidra Valles, third. The Vikings had five competitors among the top eight, with West Covina next at four.
Scoring titles for West Covina were Grecia Monasterio (111), Jennifer Lopez (116) and Yvette Garcia (160). Also scoring a title was Baldwin Park’s McKayla Loza, who beat Oak Hills’ Corey Burton in the 189 final. Other area finalists were Valles, Walnut’s Mia Dow (121) and Upland’s McKenna Hutchison (137).
All advance to the CIF State championships, scheduled for Visalia Convention Center on Feb. 26-27.
Other qualifiers were Walnut’s Justine Barredo (101, third), Lauren Cuellar (111, sixth), Jeselle Corpus (116, fourth) and Sarah Arellano (131, seventh); Diamond Ranch’s Trina Nguyen (101, fifth) and Tiffany Juarez (116, third); Rowland’s Grace Padilla (101, sixth); Northview’s Haven Driscoll (106, fifth), Julia Hooper (116, eighth), Julia Padilla (131, sixth) and Mia Leon (143, third); El Monte’s Brianne Penunuri (106, sixth); San Marino’s Claire Garcia (106, eighth); Barstow’s Elizabeth Wright (111, fourth); San Bernardino’s Andrea Contreras (111, eighth); Cajon’s Alicia Alba (121, fourth); Schurr’s Sarah Zaragoza (121, fifth); Bloomington’s Nicole Abea (121, eighth); Hesperia’s Suzy Chiquito (126, fourth); Chaffey’s Kimberly Espinoza (126, fifth) and Daisy Aguilar (170, sixth); Montclair’s Lesle Chicas (126, sixth); Sierra Vista’s Brianna Vilchis (126, eighth); Carter’s Michelle Camacho (143, fourth); Bonita’s Natalie Romero (143, sixth) and Alyssa Palmer (160, sixth); Gabrielino’s Jasmine Monroe (143, seventh); Chino’s Erika Aguila (150, seventh); Beaumont’s Kim Meza (160, sixth); San Dimas’ Jaylene Tiki Jaime (160, eighth); Baldwin Park’s Makayla Hernandez (170, fifth); Banning’s Aryana Ruth (235, fourth) and West Covina’s Janessa Munoz (235, eighth).
The big story, though, was the performance of West Covina’s winning trio, which was again led by Yvette Garcia, who scored four wins fall, including pinning Pioneer Valley’s Tiffany Santana at 3:31 in the 160 final. She’s had eight wins by fall the past two weekends. Her closest match was a 2-1 victory over Eastside’s Precious Bell in the semifinals.
“I really happy,” Garcia said. “I didn’t get to the finals last year. But it’s on my coaches for really pushing me.
“I dropped down a weight class (this season) and just tried to keep wrestling.”
Monasterio won at 111 after coming back from an early 2-0 deficit to win, 4-3.
“It’s unbelievable to win it,” Monasterio said. “Your whole season is striving to win it, and we you get it done, it’s a great feeling. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a great honor.”
Lopez had three wins by fall, including a pin at 2:41 over Coachella Valley’s Destiny Salinas in the 116 final. She came into to the meet ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS by The California Wrestler.
Baldwin Park’s Loza also had a comeback win. She came back from 3-2 and 4-3 deficits to beat Burton.

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CIF-SS Wrestling Duals: Northview wins for third consecutive season

Montclair's Bryan Cubillo, bottom, tries to break free of Northview's Ricky Marin, top, during their 132-pound weight class match in the semi-finals of Saturday's CIF-SS Central Division Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA Saturday, February 6, 2016. Northview went on to win the tournament.   (Photo by Mark Dustin for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Montclair’s Bryan Cubillo, bottom, tries to break free of Northview’s Ricky Marin, top, during their 132-pound weight class match in the semi-finals of Saturday’s CIF-SS Central Division Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA Saturday, February 6, 2016. Northview went on to win the tournament.
(Photo by Mark Dustin for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> The CIF-SS Central Division Dual-Meet Wrestling Tournament progressed as expected, which was good news for Covina Northview and bad news for everyone else.The top-seeded Vikings rolled through the bracket, routing second-seeded upstart Riverside Hillcrest in the championship match 41-13 Saturday at Alta Loma High School.It was Northview’s third-straight CIF-SS Dual Meet title and fifth in the past six years.“All the credit goes to the kids,” Northview coach Bobby Bellamy said. “They were great.”Some years, Northview wrestles a team in the finals with which it is very familiar. That was not the case this time, with Hillcrest, a fledgling school which was in its first final.“I didn’t know much about them,” Bellamy admitted. “I didn’t even have much of a chance to scout them, but I had all the respect for them.”
— Pete Marshall

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