About Steve Ramirez

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

South Hills alumni game set for Saturday

The South Hills High School baseball program will debut the improvements to its field when it hosts its annual alumni game on Saturday.
All alumni are welcome to attend. Pre-game batting practice is scheduled for 9:45 a.m.
Second-year coach Darren Murphy said the turnout was good last season and he’s hoping more players/fans show up on Saturday.
The improvements to the field include a new backstop and screen.

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Wrestling: Northview, San Marino receive top seeds for dual championships

By Stephen Ramirez
Northview and San Marino, arguably the top two wrestling teams in the area, received top seeds in their respective divisions when the CIF-Southern Section released pairings Thursday for Saturday’s the dual championships.
The Vikings, who won a dual title last season, are No. 1 in the Central Division, with San Marino taking the top spot in the Western Division.
The 16-team tournaments will be Saturday at selected sites. Preliminary rounds begin at 11 a.m., with the finals slated for 7:15 p.m. The six host sites are Alta Loma High School (Central), Marina (Coastal), Carter (Eastern), Dos Pueblos (Northern), Redondo (Southern) and Millikan (Western).

Northview has a bye in the first round and will face the winner of Colton and Norte Vista in the quarterfinals. Other area first-round matchups are Bonita vs. Walnut, San Dimas vs. No. 3 Ayala; Hillcrest vs. Charter Oak and Diamond Bar vs. No. 2 Bloomington.
San Marino faces Lakewood in the first round of the Western Division. Other area first-round matchups are Arroyo vs. California; Montebello vs. Millikan; La Canada vs. Gabrielino and Santa Fe vs. No. 2 Downey.
Bishop Amat is No. 2 in the Northern Division and faces Channel Islands in the first round.
Bassett, which won its first league title in nine seasons with a Miramonte League championship, is no. 3 in the Southern Division. The Olympians face Fillmore in the first round. The other area first-round matchup is Montview League champion Duarte vs. La Puente,
Sonora, which won the Freeway League, faces San Clemente in Coastal first-round matchup.
GIRLS REGIONAL PREVIEW
Northview will host the CIF-SS Eastern Region girls wrestling championships on Saturday.
The event features some of the top competitors in the area. Preliminary rounds are slated to begin at 10 a.m., with the finals scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Other regionals are slated for Tustin, Pioneer Valley and Upland high schools. The CIF-SS finals are scheduled for next weekend at Roosevelt High School, with the state finals slated for Visalia Convention Center on Feb. 27-28.
Regional host Northview, which won the CIF-SS meet last season, is led by seniors Izzy Valles (137 pounds) and Daisy Velasquez (143) and sophomore Deidra Valles (150).
Other key area athletes competing are El Monte’s Brianne Penunuri (101) and krissiana Fregoso (11); San Dimas’ Haley Valez (116), Daishea Jaime (121) and Monique Barajas (126); Walnut’s Alyssa Barredo (101), Lauren Cuellar (111) and Sarah Arellano (131); Sierra Vista’s Angelica Ochoa (160) and West Covina’s Jennifer Lopez (116).

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Boys Soccer: El Monte boys soccer edges Mountain View, 2-1

 El Monte's Jesus Garcia, top, scores past Mountain View goal keeper Michael Garcia (74) in the first half of a prep soccer match at South El Monte High School in El Monte, Calif., on Thursday, January 29, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

El Monte’s Jesus Garcia, top, scores past Mountain View goal keeper Michael Garcia (74) in the first half of a prep soccer match at South El Monte High School in El Monte, Calif., on Thursday, January 29, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

By Jared Pine
EL MONTE — After tying its previous meeting with Mountain View this year, the El Monte High School boys soccer team defeated the Vikings 2-1 with a goal from Ramon Rodriguez in the 77th minute for the Mission Valley League victory at home Thursday afternoon.
The win gives El Monte (10-6-2, 7-1-1) a game and a half lead over Mountain View (9-6-3, 5-2-1) in the league standings. The two teams were nearing their second 1-1 tie this season, but with just three minutes left in the game, El Monte earned a corner kick. The Spartans directed the kick out of the box, but when the ball came back in, Rodriguez was there and put his head on the ball amidst the Vikings’ defensive scramble, knocking the ball just over the line for the go-ahead goal.
Mountain View had a chance to answer in the final minute after Mauricio Rodriguez got a yellow card just outside the box on the goalkeeper’s left side. Valera Moises took the free kick for the Vikings, which was punched out by goalkeeper Jose Paredes. The ball was controlled by Roberto Alvarez, who took one dribble to control the ball and lifted it toward the goal. Paredes jumped up for the floater and knocked it over the cross bar, and Mountain View couldn’t get a shot off on the ensuing corner kick right before time expired.

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Girls Basketball: St. Paul completes sweep of Bishop Amat

 St. Paul players celebrate their win over Bishop Amat after their Del Rey girls basketball game at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs on Thursday January 29, 2015. St. Paul defeated Bishop Amat 53-38. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

St. Paul players celebrate their win over Bishop Amat after their Del Rey girls basketball game at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs on Thursday January 29, 2015. St. Paul defeated Bishop Amat 53-38. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

By Stephen Ramirez
SANTA FE SPRINGS — There was no league title at stake when the St. Paul High School girls basketball team hosted Bishop Amat on Thursday. It just seemed that way.
That’s what sweeping your rival for the first time in nearly three decades will do for you, especially one that has had the upper hand in the series.
Clarissa Perez scored 19 points and Adrianna Gonzalez had 14 as the Swordsmen beat the Lancers for the second time, scoring a 53-38 victory in a Del Rey League game at St. Paul.
St. Paul, which won at Amat (69-45) on Jan. 13, improved to 14-10 overall and 2-3 in league play. Bishop Amat, getting 14 points from Jurhandi Molina, slipped to 7-15 and 0-5.


St. Paul, after falling behind, 16-7, after the first quarter, put together a 14-minute stretch in the second, third and four quarters where it outscored the Lancers, 27-4, for a 45-28 advantage late in the fourth. The stretch included keeping Bishop Amat scoreless for more than eight minutes over the final seven of the third and the first of the fourth.

St. Paul’s Clarissa Perez: “It’s a great feeling to sweep Amat. Coach (Robert Miller) said its the first time in 24 years we’ve swept Amat. It’s a great win for us, and I’m very proud of all my teammates.”

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Girls Basketball: Youthful Covina looking like Valle Vista League favorite

By Stephen Ramirez
Youth is being served for the Covina High School girls basketball team, and so far, it’s been a good thing for the Colts.
Covina, with a lineup that features two sophomores and a freshman, is 11-8 and sits atop the Valle Vista League with San Dimas at 2-0.
Freshman Allison Ayala, with a 12 points per game average, has led the way, along with sophomore swing player Mariah Sierra, who is averaging 10 a game, and sophomore point guard Diana Navarro, a transfer from Azusa who is averaging 11.3 in the four games since becoming eligible.
The elder is senior Princess Nava, who is averaging 7.7 a game.
“We’re real young, but we knew we had to go young if we were going to have a chance to win league,” said Covina coach Nick Masi, who guided the Colts to the league title last season. “At the beginning of the season, they just weren’t ready, but we were hoping if we start them early, and give them the minutes and experience, that they’d be ready for league. Low and behold, they really stepped up.”

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Giambi brothers; Jim Bastion join South Hills’ Wall of Fame

giambis

By Stephen Ramirez
WEST COVINA >>
South Hills High School is arguably the elite baseball program in the Valley, and Tuesday the school paid homage to that history.
Brothers Jason and Jeremy Giambi and coach Jim Bastion had their numbers retired in a ceremony in the school’s gym. All three retired jerseys (7, 7, 20) will rest on the gym’s wall of fame, joining Shawn Wooten and Cory Lidle.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Jason Giambi said. “It’s really an honor. I had some incredible times (at South Hills); played for some incredible coaches; had incredible teammates. The biggest thing is that I am truly honored.”


Jason Giambi is considered one of the top players in area history and deserving a spot on South Hills’ Mt. Rushmore. He was a three-sport star, including hitting .394 in three varsity seasons before helping Long Beach State to the 1991 College World Series and played in the 1992 Olympics. His 20-year MLB career features being a five-time All-Star, two Silver Slugger awards and the 2000 American League MVP. He’s played with the Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies and the last two seasons with the Cleveland Indians. Giambi, a lifetime .277 hitter with 440 home runs, is currently a free agent.
“It’s a tremendous honor to have my jersey retired,” Giambi said. “I’m so glad (South Hills) coach (Darren) Murphy has brought back that pride. That was the one great thing about being a New York Yankee, they always brought back the older players, because there is such tradition. There were tremendous times (at South Hills) and it’s definitely an honor to stand up here.”
Jeremy Giambi’s baseball career almost mirrored that of his older brother. He hit .383 in three seasons for the Huskies, who he led to a CIF-Southern Section title. He then helped Cal State Fullerton win a College World Series championship in 1995 before spending five seasons in MLB.
He hit .263 with 52 home runs in stints with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox.
“This is a special moment for my family,” Jeremy Giambi said. “I appreciate everything that’s going on at South Hills. I want to thank everyone here to making this a special evening.”
Bastion, who coached South Hills for 23 seasons, was the foundation to the program being among the best in the area. He guided the Huskies to nearly 400 wins and three Southern Section titles in five trips to the finals.
“It’s just a situation that I can look around the room and say thank you very, very much,” Bastion said. “I appreciate it. I want to thank you very much for all the love you’ve given me and hopefully, all the love I can give out.”

Speaking of this story, yes, Deadspin went there ..

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South Hills alum Randy Aguirre succumbs to cancer

Randy Aguirre, who wrestled at South Hills before coaching at Covina and starting the wrestling program at Palisades, died last week after a battle with brain cancer. He was 30.
There will be a prayer/vigil for Aguirre on Thursday from 6- 9 p.m. at the Church of our Heritage, which is located at 21300 Via Verde in Covina.
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at noon at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is at 344 West Workman Avenue in Covina.
Aguirre was a 4-year letterman at South Hills and was captain his senior season. He also wrestled at Mt. San Antonio College and San Francisco State University. He was an assistant at South Hills before becoming the head coach at Covina and later Palisades.
His Palisades team competed at the Tustin Tournament and finished 18th.

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