About Steve Ramirez

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

Boys Basketball: Workman rallies past rival La Puente to earn Montview League 3-peat

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
When ever the Workman High School boys basketball team has needed a big play, this season it’s looked to guard J.P. Rodriguez.
The senior came through again on Wednesday.
Rodriguez nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, than scored seven points in the extra period to help host Workman to a piece of its third consecutive Montview League title with a 61-55 victory over rival La Puente.
The senior had 26 points and Alan Matron and Joshua Paul Rodriguez had 13 each for the Lobos, who improved to 19-6 and 12-1 in league play. It’s also Workman’s fifth title in the past six seasons. La Puente, getting 15 points from Matthew Arguello and 13 and 11, respectivley, from Edvin Peraza and Enrique Ramirez, slipped to 13-11 and 10-3.
La Puente looked like it might get its own piece of the crown late in the fourth quarter after Ramirez buried a 3-pointer from the side for a 46-45 lead at 1:17 and Anthony Burchett made a layup for a 48-45 lead with 35 seconds left. But it was more than enough time for J.P. Rodriguez to respond.
The senior took a pass from James Magaway and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to tie it at 48. La Puente had a chance for the win, but Peraza’s desperation 3-pointer was long at the buzzer.
Workman assumed control from the start of overtime. Joshua Paul Rodriguez made a layup for the lead at 3:01 and J.P. Rodriguez pushed it to 53-48 with a 3-pointer at 2:19. Matron followed with a 3-footer in the lane for a 55-49 lead, but La Puente countered with a 3-pointer by Peraza to pull within 55-52 with 1:08.
J.P. Rodriguez then made four free throws down the stretch to push it to 61-55 in the final minute.

Workman coach Martin Flores: “J.P.’s been our MVP all year and he made big shots. It’s been a challenging season for us, but we’re really proud that we did a 3-peat and our fifth title in the past six years, because this year for us was going to be a rebuiding year. I really proud of the boys and what they accomplished. They did what they needed to to do.”
La Puente coach Jason Aceves: “We took the lead on that 3-pointer by Kiki (Ramirez). We thought we could ride it out. We had done a good job denying the ball from their best shooter (Rodriguez), but he got open. You go from an extreme high to an extreme low. But it was a good shot. He was wide open and he hit it.”
J.P. Rodriguez: “James (Magaway) gave me a good pass. I was wide open, so I shot it.”

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Boys Basketball: Walnut wraps up Hacienda with 64-60 win over Los Altos

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Zuri Williams scored 16 points and Lawrence Besong had 14 and Walnut High School put the chase for the Hacienda League boys basketball championship to rest with a 64-60 victory at Los Altos on Monday night.
The Mustangs, ranked No. 1 in the area this week, won their 12th consecutive game to improve to 20-5 overall and 10-0 in league play. Albert Jelowicki also had 10 points for Walnut. Los Altos, getting 16 points from Michael Barrera and 12 points and eight rebounds from Jayson Jones, slipped to 16-8 and 5-5.
Walnut, after outscoring Los Altos, 27-14, in the third quarter, looked like it might cruise to the title. But Los Altos found it’s rhythm in the fourth quarter. The Conquerors put to together a 16-6 surge to pull within 57-56 with 2:27 remaining following consecutive 3-pointers by Barrera and a free throw by Calvin Kao.
But like it did in a 65-55 victory over the Conquerors on Jan. 22. Walnut came up big down the stretch to seal the victory. Besong scored on a drive to the basket to push it to 59-56 at 2:37 before he made one of two free throws for a 60-56 lead with 2:15 to play.
The Mustangs, who were 16 of 29 from the free throw line, made four of six free throws in the final minute to clinch it.

Walnut coach Josh Cameron: “It took us about three years to get going,” said Walnut coach Josh Cameron. Once we did, we made some good runs. We made it to the quarterfinals three years ago, but we never had a chance to win league. It means the world to me, it means the world to all these guys who were here when they were freshman and sophomores. We committed to each other that this was going to be the team that finally turns the tide. We did it. I’m very proud of these guys.”

Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas: “We made a great run. We told our team after that they put in a great effort. A effort is always nice, but it’s not the W. We gave them too many points in transition. It kind of hurts, because we feel they didn’t earn it. We gave it to them with those turnovers.”
Zuri Williams: “We were able to hit some big shots down the stretch. We played some really good defense. With their point guard (Christian Espinoza) out, it definitely helped us.”

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Workman seizes control of Montview, beats Gladstone

Gladstone's Manny Chavaria (#30) gets the ball stripped away by Workman's Noah Juarez (#14) and Alan Matron (#10) in their Montview League game at Gladstone High School in Covina on Friday February 7, 2014. Workman defeated Gladstone 43-39. (Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Gladstone’s Manny Chavaria (#30) gets the ball stripped away by Workman’s Noah Juarez (#14) and Alan Matron (#10) in their Montview League game at Gladstone High School in Covina on Friday February 7, 2014. Workman defeated Gladstone 43-39. (Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

By John Honell

COVINA — With first place on the line, Workman took a huge step toward its third consecutive Montview League title by rallying for a 43-39 win over host Gladstone on Friday night.
The Lobos (18-6, 11-1) came from behind in the second half to knock off the Gladiators (19-3, 10-2), who were seeking their first league championship since 2000. The Lobos have a one-game lead over the Gladiators with two to play.

J.P. Rodriguez brought the Lobos within two points, 17-15, with two long 3-pointers in the last minute of the first half.
He hit back-to-back long 3s to open the third quarter, then forced a turnover that led to a layup by Oliver Lopez. After a Gladiators timeout, he stole the ball at mid-court and made a layup for the Lobos’ biggest lead of the game 25-19.
Workman coach Martin Flores: “That seemed to rock them back on their heels. It was just enough and these guys kept their composure and got a couple of steals and took care of it. J.P. is our MVP. He seems to come up the big plays at the right moment.”
Gladstone coach Gary Kilmer: That’s kind of been Workman’s M.O. They come out strong in the third quarter. We answered the bell but that (J.P. Rodriguez) buried some long shots. He had an outstanding game but we had our chances.”
J.P. Rodriguez: “I just felt like we had to pick up our defense. Our offense was really slow. I was trying to get a better shot because (Gladstone’s) Ben Reaves is a really good defender and I got just a little bit of space so I just had to shoot it (even if it was a long shot).”

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Boys Basketball: Claremont rallies for 63-61 win over Damien in overtime

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
If the Damien High School entertained any thoughts of winning a piece of the Sierra League title, it had to win out.
Claremont all but put those hopes to rest.
Chris Edwards scored 20 points, including two baskets in overtime, and the host Wolfpack rallied for 63-61 victory over the Spartans in a league game on Friday.

Omar Mahmoud also had 20 points for Claremont, which improved to 18-8 overall and 5-3 in league play.
Malik Fitts had 19 points for Damien, which slipped to 20-5 and 6-2. Jeremy Hemsley, who fouled out with a little more than two minutes left, had 14 points.
The Spartans had a chance to tie the score, but Fitts missed a 3-pointer with about eight seconds left and after being fouled with 0.7 seconds left, Tyler Ginyard made just one of three free throws.
Damien coach Matt Dunn: “I guess that’s the result. We don’t really talk about that (the league race). Our goal every year is to play our best basketball at the end of the year. I thought we grew in some areas tonight, but not in others. The next couple of weeks we can try to perfect it and see what can happen in the playoffs.”

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Girls Water Polo: Bonita wraps up another Hacienda League title with 12-6 win over Los Altos

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Bonita High School will leave the Hacienda League at the same level it entered it — as the dominant girls water polo program.
Natalie Rivas and Erin Gonzalez scored three goals each and Bonita wrapped up its fourth consecutive league title with a 12-9 victory over host Los Altos on Thursday in a game featuring two teams ranked in the top 10 of CIF-Southern Section Division 4.
Claire Turner and Kirra Hemric also had two goals for second-ranked Bonita, which improved to 18-9 overall and 7-0 in the Hacienda League.
Brooke Contreras had four goals for No. 7 Los Altos, which slipped to 11-11 and 4-2.
Bonita countered Los Altos’ early surge with three quick goals to take a 3-2 lead after the first quarter. Gonzalez scored on a back-hand shot in the hole before her and Turner followed with tallies to make it 3-2.
The Bearcats then scored on their first three shots in the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead at halftime.
Bonita, after Los Altos, closed within 9-6 after three quarters, outscored the Conquerors, 3-0, in the fourth to win 12-6.

Bonita coach Andy Rosenberg: “I’m pleased with my girls,” said Bonita coach Andy Rosenberg. We got down, but kept our composure and came back. I really liked that. It was really good, to be here in a hostile environment and come back. (Los Altos) is a good team. They never give up, and I imagine they will do well in CIF and we may wind up seeing them again.”
Los Altos coach Chris Coleman: “It was a fantastic start, then we were down 3-2 after simple mistakes. They scored from the five spot two times in a row. It kind of fell apart.”
Bonita’s Claire Turner: “We have a lot of good scorers. But we wanted to work on our defense against them.”

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Boys Basketball: Mike LeDuc gets 800th win as Glendora scores 63-56 victory at Upland

Glendora head coach Michael LeDuc, left, is congratulated by former Ramona (Riverside) head coach Dough Stockham who was LeDuc's high school coach after defeating Upland 63-56 for his 800th win as a head coach during a prep basketball game at Upland High School

Glendora head coach Michael LeDuc, left, is congratulated by former Ramona (Riverside) head coach Dough Stockham who was LeDuc’s high school coach after defeating Upland 63-56 for his 800th win as a head coach during a prep basketball game at Upland High School

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
For Glendora High School coach Mike LeDuc, the Tartans’ success over the past three decades has never been about one man.
So much so on a day when LeDuc scored his 800th victory with a 63-56 win at Upland on Tuesday, he deflected this personal milestone to what it meant for this Glendora team, to beat one of the better teams in the Baseline League on the road, and do so in impressive fashion.
Glendora (17-7 overall 3-4 in league), getting 19 points from senior guard A.J. Bigornia and 16 from Thomas Rico, played arguably its best game of the season, holding Upland (13-11, 3-4) to under 40-percent shooting while outscoring the Highlanders, 37-22, during the second and third quarters to take control.

Glendora coach Mike LeDuc: “To me, it’s not about me (getting the 800th victory), but our guys playing pretty tough and starting to play better. It’s more about that than any milestone for me. We played tough, we played good. I think we are starting to play better. Upland is a very good team. We’ve lost the last couple of times we’ve come over here, so it was important that we played well, and we played tough.“

Glendora’s A.J. Bigornia: “It was really special. Coach has worked so hard all these years, coaching Cameron Murray, Tracy Murray, Casey Jacobson … It’s an honor for me to be on his team.”

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Girls Basketball: Covina all but wraps up Valle Vista League after rallying for 45-37 victory over Wilson

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Covina and Wilson high school have taken turns winning the Valle Vista League girls basketball titles the previous two seasons, and Dominique Theus put the Colts in position to add to their trophy collection.
The senior scored a game-high 20 points and keyed a second-half surge as host Covina took a major step toward the league title with a 45-37 victory over Wilson on Monday.
The Colts, also getting 10 points from Mariah Sierra and eight from Daeanera Tuaua, improved to 15-9 overall and 9-0 in league play. Covina, ranked No. 6 in the Valley, moves two games ahead of Wilson with three games left. Wilson, which went 12-0 in winning the league title last season, slipped to 14-9 and 7-2. The Wildcats were led by Elizabeth Lau and Kaelyn Kawamoto, with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Sierra, after Lau made two free throws at 3:17, then hit a 3-pointer for a 38-37 lead with 2:48 left. Sierra then made a fast-break layup with 53 seconds left before Theus sank two free throws for a 43-37 lead with 42 seconds left to clinch it.

Covina coach Nick Masi: “I can’t be more proud of my players, my coaching staff from fighting back from unranked (to begin the season) to (possibly) league champs. I can’t be any more proud of them. I’ll be honest. Wilson was the league favorites. We knew that and (winning) it was our goal. It was something we just couldn’t do last year, but they became champions tonight by beating (Wilson) twice. That’s a big deal.”

Wilson coach Chris Roberts: “You have to give Covina all the credit in the world. We couldn’t get the shots we wanted today. It was the same thing when we ran into them at our place. They’re a very disciplined team, defensively. We tried has hard as we could, but in the end, they were more effective, defensively.”
Dominique Theus: “We were down by seven at halftime, but I told my team we have to win. We have to do what we have to do on defense, play smart and try our best on offense and come out ahead.”

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Prices are right for Wilson; Wildcats rout San Dimas in Valle Vista League showdown

Wilson's Kyle Price (3) drives to the basket past San Dimas' Omar Nasri (50) in the first half of a prep basketball game at Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News)

Wilson’s Kyle Price (3) drives to the basket past San Dimas’ Omar Nasri (50) in the first half of a prep basketball game at Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. (Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Wilson High School began the season as the favorite to win the Valle Vista League boys basketball title, and the Wildcats will likely live up to that preseason billing.
Kyle Price scored a game-high 19 points and Kevin Price had 16 and 12 rebounds and host Wilson solidified its hold on first place with an 82-47 victory over second-place San Dimas on Friday.

The Wildcats, also getting nine points from Eric Lee and eight each from Justin Lee and Justin Chan, improved to 15-7 overall and 8-0 in league. San Dimas, getting 12 points each from Ryan Ocampo and Omar Nasri, slipped to 10-10 and 6-2.
Wilson, keyed by the inside play of Kevin Price and some cluth 3-point shooting from Li, put this one away after using runs of 11-1 and 14-6 in the third quarter to go up 53-33. The Wilcats then outscored San Dimas, 28-11 to win by 35.

Wilson coach Willie Allen: “It was huge and the boys knew it. They knew how big this was. They didn’t want to share any league title. They wanted to make sure we won this outright.
“We had a good game at San Dimas (earlier this season) that was close, and we wanted to send a message to the rest of the league.”

San Dimas coach Bruce Robbins: “We didn’t respond very well being down. Since we made the switch (to an up-tempo attack), we hadn’t been behind. Our kids just didn’t respond, or we didn’t respond to when we missed shots. When we missed shots, our heads went into the toilet somewhere. I guess I could have done something to slow the game down, but I really didn’t want to do that because we’re trying to get a certain way to playing in our kids’ minds that we think in the long run is better for us. I kept us playing the way we want to play, and Wilson did a nice job.”

Kevin Price: “We just (keep) our composure. (Basketball) is a game of runs. They had theirs and we had to stop it and get ours.”


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Glendale spoils Kevin Smith’s Mt. SAC debut, 8-4, in 11 innings

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Kevin Smith’s debut as Mt. San Antonio College’s baseball coach didn’t go as planned on Thursday.
Nick Padilla hit a three-run double in the 11th inning and visiting Glendale spoiled Smith’s first game with an 8-4 victory over the Mounties at Mazmanian Field.
The Vaqueros, who won their first game after opening with losses to Oxnard and Cypress, also got two hits each from Jerry Ismerio and Jay Sheeley. Richie Rollice (South Hills High School) Kolby Oriti (Northview) and Carlos Martinez (Nogales) had two hits each for Mt. SAC.
Glendale didn’t waste it’s chance in the 11th. The Vaqueros loaded the bases with one out following to hit batters and a throwing error. Padilla then doubled down the right field line to score all three for a 7-4 lead.
Sheeley followed with an RBI single to make it 8-4.
Mt. SAC, which fell behind 4-0, tied it at 4 in the seventh. Richie Rollice (South Hills), Kolby Oriti and Carlos Martinez (Nogales) had singles before Edgar Cabral (La Puente), Dustin Fraley and Nico Contreras (South Hills) followed with RBI walks to make it 4-3. Boomer Baker then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Cabral and tie it at 4.
Mt. SAC coach Kevin Smith: “It’s a little bit quicker, pitchers throw a little bit harder and the game is a little bit faster (at this level), but baseball is baseball. If you catch and throw and hit the baseball in key situations you win. On the other hand, if you don’t, you’re going to lose. We didn’t do all the things we needed to do to win. I am happy with the effort the guys gave us tonight. They never gave up, worked hard. We’re OK.”

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Gabrielino takes over Mission Valley League race with 58-43 win over South El Monte

South El Monte's Enrique Duarte (2) scrambles for the loose ball with Gabrielino's Eli Peters, left, and teammate Gary Hawkins in the first half of a prep basketball game at South El Monte High School in South El Monte, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

South El Monte’s Enrique Duarte (2) scrambles for the loose ball with Gabrielino’s Eli Peters, left, and teammate Gary Hawkins in the first half of a prep basketball game at South El Monte High School in South El Monte, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
The race for the Mission Valley League boys basketball title is Gabrielino High School’s to lose.
Eli Peters scored a game-high 23 points and had eight rebounds and Gabrielino took over first place with a 58-43 victory over host South El Monte on Wednesday.
Grant Kirchhoff had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Bryan Phan had 13 points for Gabrielino, which improved to 17-3 overall and 5-0 in league play. South El Monte, getting 18 points from Eduardo Hernandez and 12 from Alex Ortiz, slipped to 10-5 and 4-1.

The key for Gabrielino on Wednesday, like it was in its 67-45 victory over El Monte last week, was the third quarter. Gabrielino was 10 of 15 from the floor during that stretch and opened the quarter with a 16-9 surge to go up 42-28 following three inside shots by Kirchhoff and a 10-footer by Peters.

Gabrielino coach John Carney: “It’s nice. We’ve talked before that its another step in the process, where we want to go and how we want to get there. But I was telling the guys, the second half of league is going to be tougher than the first half. We’re where we want to be, but it’s going to be harder than the fist half.”
Eli Peters: “We definitely got more intense (during the second half). We had that fire. We just kept rolling.”

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Girls Soccer: Late goal keeps San Dimas in control of Valle Vista League; Bonita shocks Diamond Bar, 1-0 in OT

HACIENDA SHOCKER: Big news on Tuesday is that Bonita knocked off defending Hacienda league champion Diamond Bar 1-0 in overtime. That momentarily puts Los Altos (12-2-3, 6-0-1) in sole possession of first with Diamond Bar (12-3-3, 5-1-1) second and Bonita (6-9, 4-2) in the title hunt on the outside looking it. Next Tuesday is the biggie when Diamond Bar visits Los Altos…


Damien 4, Chino Hills 1
Claremont 1, Charter Oak 1
South Hills 1, Ayala 1
Chino Hills 4, St. Lucy’s1
South Hills 3, Ayala 2
Claremont 3, Charter Oak 0

San Dimas' Morgan Quaternik (18) celebrates after scoring in the second half of girls soccer, Wilson High at San Dimas High in San Dimas on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2014. San Dimas won 1-0. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

San Dimas’ Morgan Quaternik (18) celebrates after scoring in the second half of girls soccer, Wilson High at San Dimas High in San Dimas on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2014. San Dimas won 1-0. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
San Dimas High School has been the dominant girls soccer program in the Valle Vista League in recent years, and that doesn’t appear to be changing this season.
Senior Morgan Quaternik scored in the 72nd minute and the host Saints solidified their league lead with a 1-0 victory over Wilson on Tuesday. San Dimas stretched its league winning streak to 40 games.
San Dimas, with senior Daisy Duran getting the assist, improved to 13-6 overall and 8-0 in league play. The Saints are 2 1/2 games ahead of Baldwin Park, which beat Nogales on Tuesday. Wilson, which got 11 saves from senior goalie Minerva Lopez, slipped to 9-7-3 and 5-3 in league play. The Wildcats lost 1-0 for the second consecutive day, also losing to Nogales on Monday.

Duran, who was stopped by Lopez on a shot from just inside the penalty area in 66th minute, forced a cornerkick in the 72nd minute. She then lofted a crossing passing, which Quaternik was able to head to the left of Lopez for the 1-0 advantage.

San Dimas coach George Duran: “It was really important, because of the last time we played (Wilson), playing them in the rain with one girl down. It was really important. The girls wanted to come out here (and get the win) on our field.”
Wilson coach Ricardo Recinos: “That was the gameplan. They have the size, the speed, so we wanted to let them come to our side and try to get the counter attack. We had a couple of them, but unfortunately, we couldn’t put them in.”

San Dimas’ Morgan Quaternik: “Daisy and I connect really well together. She always finds me when she takes cornerkicks. When she was running up to (kick it), I just knew where I was supposed to be and when I was supposed to drop by head. I just felt it.”
Wilson’s Minerva Lopez: “It was last minute, and nothing you can really do about it. All we can do is learn from our mistakes.”

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Boys Basketball: Walnut holds off Diamond Bar to take control of Hacienda League race

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Walnut High School didn’t win the Hacienda League boys basketball championship Monday. But the Mustangs took a major step.
Jeff Huang scored 20 points and Walnut took control of the league race after withstanding a furious second-half surge from Diamond Bar to score a 56-53 victory over the visiting Brahmas.
Walnut, also getting 9 points each from Zuri Williams and Richard Rycraw improved to 16-5 overall and 6-0 in league play to hold a two-game lead over Diamond Bar, which slipped to 7-14 and 4-2.

The Brahmas, after two free throws by Williams with 14 seconds left, had a chance to tie the score, but Bobby Meshesha missed back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds. Leo Li led the Brahmas with 17 points.
Walnut, after making 15 of 26 shots, including five 3-pointers in the first half, looked like it might cruise to the win after taking a 38-19 lead after the first two quarters. But Diamond Bar got back into it, holding the Mustangs to two field goals in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 43-37 going into the fourth before getting within three on an Evon Shubin putback with 57 seconds left to play.

Huang made one of two free throws to push it to 54-50 with 54 seconds remaining. Meshesha then missed a short jumper with 26 seconds left. But Huang couldn’t convert two free throws before Li nailed a 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds left to cut it to 54-53.
Williams was fouled on the in-bounds’ pass and calmly sank two free throws to push it to 56-53. Meshesha was short on a 3-pointer with about 8 seconds left before grabbing the rebound on a ricochet for a desperation attempt, which was short at the buzzer.

Walnut coach Josh Cameron: “They’re are our true rival. No one is going to quit on that rivalry, whether you are up by 20 or down by 20. But our guys were resilient. We have some three-year varsity players, so they are used to this.”
Diamond Bar coach Henry Frierson: “It’s not the way we drew it up. We got two good looks at the rim, and in a game like this that’s all you can ask for.Bottom line, is that we just dug ourselves too deep of a whole in the first half. The second half we made a valiant effort. But it was just too little, too late.”

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Boys Basketball: Gabrielino too much for El Monte; Damien rolls past South Hills; Glendora held to 24 in blow-out loss to Etiwanda

Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News

Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News

Gabrielino High School came up short in its quest to win the Mission Valley League boys basketball championship last season.
The Eagles are determined to come through this time, and they took another step Friday night.
Grant Kirchhoff scored a game-high 23 points and 19 rebounds and Gabrielino remained perfect in league play with a 67-45 victory over host El Monte.

Bryan Phan had 16 points for Gabrielino, which improved to 16-3 overall and 4-0 in league play. The Eagles are at South El Monte on Wednesday. South El Monte was 3-0 going into a league game vs. Arroyo on Friday.
Jacob Moran and Joe Chavez scored 10 points each for the Lions, who slipped to 13-8 and 2-2.
Gabrielino put this one away after outscoring El Monte, 41-13, in the second and third quarters.

Gabrielino coach John Carney: “It’s nice to get another win on the road against a league team. We didn’t’ play as well as we would have liked. But we got the win, and we’re moving on.”
El Monte coach Eric Tabatabai: “They keep coming and it’s very fast-paced. When our guys got a little tired, we made some turnovers that resulted into easy layups. You have to play the whole game. The middle of the game was definitely costly.”
Gabrielino’s Grant Kirchhoff: “It’s a great victory for us,” Kirchhoff said. “We’re kind of on the road to winning league, so this was one stepping stone.”
- Stephen Ramirez, @SteveRRamirez on Twitter

Damien got a spark from its defense in the second quarter and came from behind to beat an upset minded South Hills team, 66-49, Friday night.
The win keeps the Spartans, (18-3, 4-0)the Tribune’s top-ranked team, on top of the Sierra League standings as they head for their matchup with Chino Hills next Wednesday that will be for first place.
Trailing by eight points, the Spartans went on a 15-0 run in the last 3:18 of the second quarter to take a 25-18 lead at the half and take control of the game.
The Huskies (10-11, 1-3) started the second quarter on a 10-2 run, including 3-pointers by Jacob Estrada and Josiah Sotomayor that gave them an 18-10 lead with 4:20 to go in the half before Damien put the blitz on.
The Spartans had three players in double figures, led by Jeremy Hemsley with 22 points. Malik Fitts had 14 points and Tyler Ginyard had 12. Jacob Estrada had 15 points to lead the Huskies and Chris Martin had 11.
Damien coach Matt Dunn: “I thought we played really hard. We just didn’t make shots. Even though we weren’t shooting well we were rebounding and playing defense and eventually our defense got us going.”
- John Honell
No typo, Etiwanda holds Glendora to what must be an all-time low, although I can’t remember the last time the Tartans didn’t score in the 30s. Thomas Rico led Glendora with eight points. The Tartans are just counting the days they get shipped to the Palomares League.

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Wrestling: Charter Oak rallies for 39-33 win over South Hills



By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

South Hills High School was hoping to use rival Charter Oak Thursday as a stepping stone toward the Sierra League wrestling crown.
The visiting Chargers had other ideas.
Jack Castorena scored an 11-7 decision and Daniel Garcia won by fall as Charter Oak won seven of the final nine bouts to rally for a 39-33 victory over the host Huskies in a league dual match.
Charter Oak, which won eight of the 14 matches, including five by fall, improved to 2-1 in league play. South Hills, which won four of the first five, all by fall, slipped to 2-1.
The key bouts came back-to-back at 120 and 126. Castorena, after South Hills took a 27-24 lead on an 8-5 victory by Christian Flores (113) over Luke Knight, fought back from an early deficit against Jacob Andrade to go up 8-5 with a near-fall at 1:12 in the third period before getting a takedown with 30 seconds left for the 11-7 win.
Garcia then overcame an early deficit to score a win by fall over Ivan Martinez in 2:23. Joe Alexander clinched it, giving Charter Oak a 39-27 lead with a win by fall in 3:36.

Charter Oak coach Tom Cote: “I told our guys down 24-6 that we had to make our comeback and that’s what we did. They are a really strong team, with some really good wrestlers. We didn’t get a possible matchup at 132 (between Charter Oak’s Joe Alexander and South Hills’ Kevin Kelly) and that worked out in our favor.”
South Hills coach Robb Froh: “We knew we had to get out to a big lead. We knew their upper weights were pretty tough, so we knew we would need that lead to build some momentum. We just didn’t come through in some of the lighter weights like we thought we would. There were a lot of matches that were pivotal. We just didn’t come out and perform like we needed to.”

Charter Oak’s Daniel Garcia: “We just have a lot of heart. When you see that score, it just time to turn it up and bring (our) score higher.”

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Boys Basketball: Walnut maintains lead in Hacienda, holds off Los Altos

WALNUT BOYS Walnut’s Richard Rycraw, right, blocks a shot by Los Altos’ Jayson Jones in the Mustangs’ 65-55 victory on Wednesday.
– Staff photo by Keith Birmingham

By Steve Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Walnut High School maintained its first-place lead in the race for the Hacienda League boys basketball title Wednesday. But just barely.
Senior Rob Harrelson scored a game-high 20 points, including a key 3-pointer down the stretch and area No. 3 Walnut withstood a fourth-quarter blitz from visiting Los Altos to score a 65-55 victory at home in a league game.

Fellow seniors Lawrence Besong and Richard Rycraw had 19 and 12 points, respectively, for the Mustangs, who improved to 14-5 overall and 4-0 in the Hacienda League. Freshman post player Jayson Jones had 17 points and 19 rebounds to lead area No. 4 Los Altos, which slipped to 13-5 and 2-2.
Walnut led 51-36 with just under five minutes left before Los Altos, keyed by 5 points from Jones, used a 17-5 blitz to pull within 56-53 with 2:23 left. Harrelson then followed two free throws by Zuri Williams with a 3-pointer with 1:03 left to all but clinch it.

Walnut coach Josh Cameron: “You always get concerned. But I was very proud of them. I told them (after) that when you play good teams, they’re never going to give up. Los Altos came at us. We had to earn this win. It’s a good lesson for us to learn.”
Los Altos coach Jeff Lucas: “We’ve been resilient all year. We have a good group of guys. We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but you can credit Walnut with that. It was a great effort by the guys coming back, but against a good team, it’s hard to comeback from that far. That run cut it to three, but had we played better earlier and been closer, than it would have given us the lead.”
Walnut’s Rob Harrelson: “We were calm. We just had to run our offense. It was tight, but at the end of the game we were able to hit our free throws and our shots.”

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Girls Basketball: El Monte moves into first Mission Valley League with win over rival South El Monte

By John Honell
El Monte hasn’t hung a Mission Valley League girls basketball championship banner in its gym since 1991.
The school isn’t ready to hoist the banner quite yet but, its 41-29 win Wednesday night over South El Monte has put the Lions in sole possession of first place.
The Lions defense was the key to the win as it held high scoring Dorothy Tuala to eight points, all of them in the first half.
Sophomore Emmy Pham led the Lions (10-6, 3-0) in scoring with 16 points but her real contribution came on the defensive end where she fronted Tuala and helped hold her scoreless in the second half.
The Eagles (11-6, 2-1) used a 12-3 run to close the second quarter taking a two-point lead into the locker room at the break.
El Monte coach Christine Butler: “We were going to front her (Tuala) and get good weak side help. If they were going to try and pound it in to her we were going to have two people on her and force their outside girls to look for some shots.”
South El Monte coach Jose Herrera: “Our offense goes through Dorothy. (Pham) did a phenomenal job on Dorothy, credit to her, but I’m proud of the way our kids fought back. The school has only won one game in the last four years and the all-time school record for wins in a season is 12, so we’re in uncharted waters.”

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Basketball Rankings: Damien, Bonita continue to show the way


1. Damien (16-3)
Pointing toward Chino Hills showdown
2. Glendora (15-5)
Counting days it leaves Baseline
3. Walnut (13-5)
Won 9 of 11
4. Los Altos (13-4)
Enjoying return to area elite
5. Wilson (13-7)
Will ‘Cats lose in VVL?
6. Diamond Ranch (10-8)
Contending in Hacienda
7. Bonita (12-5)
Downward spiral continues
8. Rowland (9-9)
In league title mix
9. Workman (12-5)
Nothing changes in Montview
10. Gladstone (13-2)
Lost showdown with Workman

1. Isaih Mendoza, Mountain View, 24.1
2. Jeremy Hemsley, Damien, 22.2
3. John Paul Rodriguez, Workman, 21.5
4. Mathew Arguello, La Puente, 18.2
5. Ernest Ugoagu, Diamond Ranch, 18.0
6. Rob Harrelson, Walnut, 15.7
7. Andrew Bullock, Nogales, 14.6
8. Jonah Mendoza, West Covina, 14.4
9. Jesus Hernandez, Rowland, 14.4
10. Eduardo Hernandez, South El Monte, 14.2
11. Malik Fitts, Damien, 13.9
12. Eddie Howard, Duarte, 13.2
13. Edvin Peraza, La Puente, 12.6
14. Enrique Ramirez, La Puente, 12.6
15. Joshua Andarza, Bishop Amat 12.4

1. Bonita (16-2)
Toyed with Walnut
2. Bishop Amat (16-5)
Held its own vs. Serra
3. Diamond Ranch (13-4)
Gets its shot at Bonita next week
4. Walnut (9-7)
Looked good vs. Bonita
5. South Hills (12-6)
Swept in Sierra last week
6. Covina (11-9)
Team to beat in VVL
7. Diamond Bar (8-10)
Seeking top 4 finish in league
8. Wilson (11-8)
Lost to showdown vs. Covina
9. South El Monte (11-6)
Rounding into form
10. Workman (9-8)
Rebounded from poor start

1. Kaelyn Kawamoto, Wilson, 14.7
2. Jessica Rosas, Gladstone, 14.7
3. Dymond Mitchell, San Dimas, 14.1
4. Dominique Thesus, Covina, 12.7
5. Tiyana Watkins, El Monte, 11.3
6. Mackenzie Barnes, Duarte, 10.8
7. Jordan Veal, San Dimas, 10.7
8. Katie Taylor, Northview, 10.6
9. Kathy McKiernan, Duarte, 9.8
10. Bridget Phu, Rosemead, 8.9

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Soccer Rankings: Sierra Vista, South Hills remain at No. 1



1. Sierra Vista (13-0-1)
Dons just keep on rolling
2. Damien (8-3-2)
Keeping pace in Sierra
3. Diamond Bar (10-5-1)
Team to beat in Hacienda
4. Baldwin Park (10-3-2)
Sets the tone in Valle Vista
5. Los Altos (5-5-4)
Off to slow start in league
6. Arroyo (8-1-3)
Doing it right in Mission Valley
7. El Monte (8-1-0)
Played Arroyo tight
8. Bishop Amat (6-3-2)
Staying close in Del Rey
9. Duarte (9-4)
Lost to Sierra Vista last week
10. Diamond Ranch (7-3-2)
Sitting in second in Hacienda

1. Mario Saenz, Sierra Vista, 18
2. Sebastian Ocampo, Sierra Vista, 15
3. Andre Gamboa, Diamond Bar, 11
4. Guy Horcasitas, Diamond Bar, 11
5. Kelly Craft, Diamond Bar, 8
6. Manuel Medina, Los Altos, 8
7. Julio Sanchez, Duarte 8
8. Michael Flores, Sierra Vista, 8
1. South Hills (12-1-1)
Found its match vs. Chino Hills
2. Bishop Amat (12-5-2)
Setting the pace in Del Rey
3. Diamond Bar (9-2-3)
Needed own goal to tie Los Altos
4. Los Altos (9-2-3)
Showed heart vs. Diamond Bar
5. Sierra Vista (11-3-0)
Ruling Montview
6. St. Lucy’s (6-8-1)
Lost its last three
7. Charter Oak (8-6-0)
Holding its own in Sierra
8. San Dimas (8-6-0)
Holding lead in Valle Vista
9. Wilson (9-6-3)
Can it knock off the Saints?
10. Azusa (5-3-3)
Keeping pace with Sierra Vista

1. Jaline Miranda, Azusa, 17
2. Alison Kung, Wilson, 17
3. Hailey Zerbel, South Hills, 16
4. Samantha Verduzzco, Los Altos, 11
5. Jessica Lopez, Sierra Vista, 11
6. Jackie Zemeno, South Hills, 10
7. Amber Marinero, South Hills, 9
8. Daisy Duran, San Dimas, 9
9. Ashley Bell, Diamond Bar, 9
10. Helna Kisor, Diamond Bar, 8
10. Caitlan Greenup, Wilson, 8

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Basketball: Bishop Amat girls’ big effort comes up short against highly-regarded Serra, 61-55

amat shot

By Steve Ramirez
@SteveRRAmirez on Twitter

Bishop Amat High School knew it could not match the talent level of visiting Serra, which is one of the better girls basketball teams in the CIF-Southern Section.
The Lancers had to make up for the deficit with effort, and host Bishop Amat made a good account of itself, pushing the Division 4AA No. 1 Cavaliers before falling, 61-55, in a Del Rey League game on Tuesday.
Caila Hailey scored a game-high 16 points and Cydney Bolton had 13 for the Cavaliers, who improved to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in the Del Rey League. Bishop Amat, getting 15 points from Paulina Santana and 13 each from Dagmar Ramirez and Janae Chamois, slipped to 16-5 and 1-2.
Amat, which led for much of the first half, looked like it might pull the upset after it rallied back from an 11-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to twice pull within a bucket with less than a five minutes to play, failing to convert each time.
The Lancers, using an 11-4 blitz keyed by two baskets by Ramirez and one from Santana, cut it to 50-48 with 4:33 left on a 3-pointer by Amanda Alvarado, but with a chance to tie, Santana missed on a shot at 4:08.
Chamois, after Brijaye Brackett scored inside, cut it to 52-50 following two free throws with 3:31 to play. Amat then withstood back-to-back misses by Serra, but an Amat turnover after a pass inside, gave it back to the Cavaliers with 2:51 left.
Serra closed the final three minutes with a 9-5 run to win 61-55.

Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard: “They are a terrific team and I was very pleased with our effort. We never gave up. A couple of things went against us in the third quarter, but we never gave up. I was very, very pleased with that. Our effort was good the whole night. We made some mistakes. We didn’t get some rebounds we have to get, we threw the ball away. But (Serra is going to force) that. There’s a reason why they are so good. But by in large, I was very pleased with our effort.”

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Charter Oak’s Big Lou to coach SoCal All-Stars in the Canyon Coast Classic


Charter Oak coaching legend Lou Farrar will coach a group of Southern California All-Stars against a team from Arizona on Monday in a the Canyon Coast Classic all-star football game at Riverside City College.
Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
The SoCal roster features Charter Oak’s Donavin Washington and Eric Prevost, South Hills Adam Goss and Chino Hills’ Chazz Eldridge.

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Boys Basketball: Workman outlasts Gladstone, 52-46

By John Honell
LA PUENTE — Champions can keep their composure in tight situations and find ways to win close games.
The Workman boys basketball team showed why it has won four of the last five Montview League championships by coming from 10 points behind in the second half to beat Gladstone 52-46 in overtime Friday night.
The win kept the Lobos (12-5, 5-0) tied with La Puente atop the league standings. It was the first league loss for the Gladiators and only their second loss of the season.
The Gladiators (13-2, 4-1) sent the game into overtime with a last-second shot by Ben Reaves, but the Lobos started overtime with back-to-back 3-pointers by Alan Matro and J.P. Rodriguez and went on to win.

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Girls Basketball: Bonita lets Walnut back in, then slams the door, 60-50


By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
For the Bonita High School girls basketball team, the question is not if it will win the Hacienda League title, but whether it will be challenged.
The Bearcats got an answer Wednesday, but not quite the one head coach Darren Baumunk was looking for, after he was forced to reinsert his starters during the fourth quarter to secure a 60-50 victory over host Walnut.
Nikki Wheatley scored 21 points and Kandyce Smith had 14 as Bonita, ranked No. 9 in CIF-Southern Section Division IAA, improved to 16-1 overall and 3-0 in the Hacienda League. Walnut, getting 11 points each from Kim Mayekawa and Britney Yee, slipped to 9-6 and 1-1.
Bonita, also getting 11 points from Ariana Abo, blitzed Walnut early. The Bearcats closed the first quarter with a 15-3 surge to lead 24-8 before enjoying leads of 37-19 at halftime and 46-20 early in the third quarter.
The game got interesting down the stretch.

Bonita coach Darren Baumunk: “I was pleased with how we played the beginning. “We got off to a quick start, which was the first time this year we’ve gotten to that quick of a start. We pushed the ball and got to play our tempo early, and it got to a point where we (could insert the younger players). It was a struggle for them, and they have to understand it’s not going to be the last time to show what they can do. They have to step up.”
Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley: “We have a solid team. We struggled a little bit (in the second half), so we had to go back in. But I think the other girls did good, they just have to work on their passing a bit. I think it was a solid win, all around.”

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UPDATE: Bonita boys basketball coach Greg Eckler quit after halftime wrestling incident

By Fred Robledo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
MONDAY UPDATE: Bonita boys basketball coach Greg Eckler, who abruptly resigned on Friday after 12 years in charge, asked players to wrestle as a form of discipline during halftime of a 43-40 loss to Diamond Bar on Jan. 8, resulting in a minor head injury to one of the players, according to Bonita Unified Assistant Superintendent Curtis Frick.
The injury was not serious and the player returned to play the second half, explained Frick.
After parents complained to school officials the following day about what allegedly took place, Eckler opted to resign when confronted by school officials. Eckler could not be reached for comment.


By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

Greg Eckler, who built the Bonita High School boys basketball team into one of the top programs in the Valley, has resigned as head coach, citing personal reasons.
Assistant coaches Mark Shores, Randy Bell and Mark Miller will direct the team, which played a Hacienda League game at Rowland on Friday night.
“For personal reasons, coach Greg Eckler has chosen to resign his coaching position at Bonita High School,” Bonita athletic director Eric Podley said in a statement released by the school. “We would like to thank coach Eckler for his 12 years of coaching at Bonita High School. We appreciate his dedication and leadership of the program. He has helped to make Bonita basketball one of the premier programs in the Valley. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Eckler, who was hired prior to the 2001-02 season, won six league titles over the past eight seasons, including the past three Hacienda League crowns, winning 35 of 36 games. Bonita, which also won the Miramonte League twice during his tenure, had won 28 consecutive league games before the streak was snapped with a 51-40 loss at Diamond Ranch last January.
The Bearcats were 12-3 going into Friday night’s game at Rowland. They had opened league play with a 43-40 loss to Diamond Bar at home on Wednesday.

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Girls Basketball: Paulina Santana scores 27 points to lead Bishop Amat into Arroyo Tourney finals; Lancers beat Cantwell, 50-40

By Steve Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
Bishop Amat High School has won the Gary Houston Memorial Christmas girls basketball Classic so much over the years, it’s almost like the Lancers’ home tournament.
Bishop Amat, which has won the 19th annual even 11 times, will get a chance tonight at an even dozen.
Paulina Santana scored a career-high 27 points, including 12 in a key second-quarter run, and the Lancers advanced to the championship game with a 50-40 victory over Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary in the semifinals Friday night at Arroyo High School.
Janae Chamois also had 11 points for Bishop Amat, which improved to 7-1. The Lancers will face South Torrance, a 43-41 winner over Oak Hills, in tonight’s title game at 7:30 p.m. at Arroyo High School.
Sylvia Garcia had 21 points for Cantwell, which slipped to 6-3. The Cardinals will face Oak Hills at 6.
Bishop Amat, getting 12 points on four 3-pointers from Santana in the second quarter, led 26-22 at halftime before using two surges to lead 41-29 at halftime. Cantwell countered with an 11-3 run in the fourth quarter before losing, 50-40.
Bishop Amat coach Richard Wiard: “We were OK (Friday). I don’t think it was our best defensive game. I know it wasn’t our performance. But obviously, we shot the ball well. But we can’t win a lot of games if we don’t get scoring closer to the basket. Our two starting post players had four points. We have to get the ball closer to the basket.”
Cantwell coach Omar Villalta: “We’re a resilient bunch. We’re not going to die. We pushed the ball. We play the speed game. We knew, even down 16, that if we push the ball, play defense, we will be fine.”

Bishop Amat 50, Cantwell 40
South Torrance 43, Oak Hill 41

Bishop Amat vs. South Torrance, 7:30 p.m.

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Boys Basketball: Bonita gets defensive, uses key third quarter to beat South Hills, 59-33, in La Canada tourney game

By Stephen Ramirez
@steverramirez on twitter
Bonita High School has fielded one of the more-consistent boys basketball teams in the area in recent years, and that has changed this season
Kyle Gray and Russell Hernandez scored 14 points each and Bonita outscored South Hills, 23-4 in the third quarter as it won for the fourth time in five games with a 59-33 victory over the Huskies in a La Canada Holiday Classic pool play game at La Canada High School.
Dane Hollar had 12 points for Bonita, which improved to 4-1. The Bearcats also forced 26 turnovers.
Darius Scott had nine points and Darik Pradia had eight for the Huskies, who slipped to 4-4.
Bonita, which was 7 of 27 from the floor in the first half and 21 of 56 for the game, limited South Hills to just two field goals and four shots in the third quarter. The Bearcats forced 10 turnovers in the quarter and outscored the Huskies, 23-4 for a 42-23 lead before cruising in the fourth quarter.
Bonita coach Greg Eckler: “Overall, the intensity for this team has been really good. The second half today was really good. We still have a long way to go as a team. The big change (Tuesday) was in the second half. We kind of cranked up the defense and shot the ball better.”
South Hills coach Marc Hart: “We had more turnovers than shots in that third quarter. Their zone pressure caused us a lot of problems.
“We were a totally different team in the second half. The first half I thought we played really well.”

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