CIF-SS Playoffs: St. Paul boys basketball in, CSHM out; La Mirada girls soccer advances to semis

St. Paul High players jubilate after their 56-52 win over San Bernardino High at the Swordsmen’s Santa Fe Springs, Calif. campus gym Feb. 23, 2017. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)

St Paul High School’s long wait is over.The Swordsmen, after 16 seasons, are back in the CIF Southern Section boys basketball finals, and they have senior Louis Bangai to thank.The center scored a game-high 22 points, including making five free throws in the final 30 seconds, to lead St. Paul to a 56-52 victory over visiting San Bernardino in a Division 3A semifinal on Friday night.Nate Kasongo had 17 points and Kylan Mann 13 for the Swordsmen (24-5), who will face Twentynine Palms, a 65-64 winner over Hesperia, for the championship. The title game will be either March 3 or 4. The CIF-SS office will release the day, time and site early next week. St. Paul last made a final-round appearance in 2001 and won its only title in 1997.
O’lajuwan Barnes scored 18 points and Matthew Bradley had 15 for San Bernardino (19-10).
San Bernardino, which nearly rallied from an eight-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter, had a chance at the lead late but Isaiah Mitchell’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds was long. Mann grabbed the rebound before Bangai was fouled. The senior center made both attempts for a 53-50 advantage.
The Cardinals gave the ball back to the Swordsmen on a back-court violation with 14 seconds left. Bangai was fouled again and made one of two free throws for a 54-50 lead. San Bernardino cut it to 54-52 with six seconds left on a putback by Kae Jon Barnes.
But Bangai sealed it with two more free throws for a 56-52 lead. The Cardinals’ desperation shot at the buzzer was short.

St. Paul closed the first quarter with an 11-5 surge to lead 15-10. But with Bangai on the bench, the Cardinals prospered, using a 15-4 blitz to lead 25-19. The Swordsmen, with Bangai back in, closed the half with a 6-0 run to lead 26-25 at the break.
They pushed the lead to 47-39 after three quarters before the Cardinals opened the final quarter with a 11-4 surge and pulled within 51-50 on a 3-pointer by Bradley with 1:15 remaining.
Bangai then went 5 of 6 from the foul line down the stretch to send St. Paul to the finals.
St. Paul’s Louis Bangai: “I’m feeling really good. I’m very proud of my teammates, my coach and all of my fans. This is a good thing for the school, to get to the championship of CIF.”
— Stephen Ramirez

Maranatha’s Josh Kim (right) drives to the net during the semifinal round of CIF-SS playoffs at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Maranatha defeated Cantwell-Sacred Heart 52-50. (Correspondent photo by Trevor Stamp)


PASADENA >> Maranatha High School certainly can’t complain about its return on investment when it comes to boys basketball coach Tim Tucker.Four years ago, Tucker was brought in to make the Minutemen a power and he’s doing just that. For the second time in four years, Maranatha will play for a CIF Southern Section championship after posting a 52-50 win over visiting Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary on Friday night in the semifinals of the Division 1AA playoffs.Maranatha improved to 18-9 and will play either Rancho Verde in next week’s championship game. CSHM, which had beaten Maranatha in December, finishes at 15-15.
Maranatha had to withstand a furious rally by CSHM in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals fell down by double figures early in the second half, but after chipping away, took a 45-44 lead with 2:50 left to play.
It didn’t last long. Maranatha’s Josh Kim drove to the basket, got fouled and made the shot. Kim hit the free throw to put his team up two. CSHM tied it at 47-47 moments later, but Maranatha had the answer yet again, this time on a flashy drive and scoop for the score by guard Sean Espinosa with 50 seconds left.
Trailing 49-47, CSHM had Maranatha in a precarious situation with 14 seconds left to play. The Minutemen were in-bounding the ball under their own basket with just five seconds left on the shot clock. But on the in-bounds attempt, the referee ruled that a CSHM player kicked the ball and the shot clock was reset.
Cantwell was forced to foul and sent Maranatha big man Jesse Elrod to the line, where he nailed both free throws for a 51-47 lead. Maranatha fouled CSHMl guard Dawit Wilson on a 3-point attempt and he made all three free throws to cut it to one.
Elrod was then fouled on the in-bound pass and made both free throws with just over one second to play. CSHM’s full-court shot for the tie fell way short as time expired.
Maranatha coach Tim Tucker: “We’re not supposed to be here. We’re the 4A school that was thrown into 1AA and we’re not supposed to be here. I wasn’t fearful (tonight) because we’ve been playing big war games and our kids were battle tested. I knew it would come down to the wire and we stepped up and made plays.”
— Aram Tolegian

St. Paul vs. Twentynine Palms, TBA
Maranatha vs. Rancho Verde, TBA
Note: CIF-SS will release the championship schedule early next week

Natalie Day and Gabrielle Hurtado each scored a goal as the Matadores upset top seed Corona del Mar.
La Mirada, seeking a CIF-SS 3-peat after winning Division 4 the past two seasons, advances to Tuesday’s semifinals. The Matadores will host Temecula Valley.

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Boys basketball semifinal scores; final matchups

Friday’s scores

Open Division
Consolation quarterfinal
Damien 88, JSerra 82

Friday’s semifinals

Division 1AA
Maranatha 52, Cantwell-Sacred Heart 50
Rancho Verde 61, Etiwanda 56

Division 1A
No. 2 Pasadena 69, Peninsula 58
No. 1 Harvard-Westlake 54, Loyola 45

Division 3A
No. 2 St. Paul 56, No. 3 St. Anthony 52
Twentynine Palms 65, No. 1 Hesperia 64

Division 4AA
No. 1 West Torrance 64, Rowland 60
No. 2 Blair 76, Woodcrest Christian 71, OT

Open Division
Tuesday’s consolation semifinal
Damien (27-4) at Redondo (25-5)

Finals, March 3-4

Division 1AA
Maranatha (18-9) vs. Rancho Verde (24-3)

Division 1A
No. 2 Pasadena (24-5) vs. No. 1 Harvard-Westlake (20-11)

Division 3A
No. 2 St. Paul (24-5) vs. No. 1 Twentynine Palms (27-3)

Division 4AA
No. 1 West Torrance (21-8) vs. No. 2 Blair (25-6)

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Girls soccer quarterfinal scores; semifinal matchups

Quarterfinals: Friday

Division 2
La Mirada 2, No. 1 Corona del Mar 0

Division 3
No. 1 Bishop Amat 8, Chaminade 1
Flintridge Prep 3, Oak Hills 0
No. 2 South Torrance 3, Glendora 0

Division 5
Gabrielino 8, San Dimas 3
Crean Lutheran 2, Maranatha 1

Division 7
No. 1 San Gabriel Mission 2, Saddleback Valley Christian 0
No. 4 Lennox Academy 0, Arroyo 0 (Lennox wins on PKs, 3-2)
Pacific 2, El Monte 0
No. 2 Rancho Mirage 1, Alverno 0

Tuesday’s semifinals

Division 2
Temecula Valley (23-3-2) at La Mirada (18-4-2)
Moorpark (20-1-2) at No. 2 Vista Murrieta (19-4-2)

Division 3
Claremont (22-2-2) at No. 1 Bishop Amat (24-3)
No. 2 South Torrance (18-1-2) at Flintridge Prep (22-3-3)

Division 5
Gabrielino (16-3-2) at Crean Lutheran (16-5-2)
No. 1 Palm Desert (19-4-4) at Viewpoint (16-5-2)

Division 7
No. 4 Lennox Academy (13-1-2) at No. 1 San Gabriel Mission (22-4)
Pacific (14-12) at No. 2 Rancho Mirage (17-7-2)

Finals: March 3-4

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Schurr makes history, advances to first CIF-SS girls water polo final

By Tony Ciniglio
The feeling was still fresh. The moment raw. The Adrenaline still pumping.Finally the Schurr High School girls water polo team came together and let out a roar as it celebrated advancing to the program’s first CIF Southern Section final.Schurr reveled in the moment as the high-fives, hugs and smiles gave way to jumping and screaming for joy.“It was like a mosh pit,” Schurr’s Stephany Velasquez said.Schurr scored the final four goals of the match to stun top-seeded Agoura 7-5 in the Division 2 semifinals at the William Wollett Aquatics Center to punch its ticket to the program’s first CIF final.Schurr (30-2) advances to play Riverside Poly in Saturday’s final. Riverside Poly was a 6-5 winner over Riverside’s King.
“This group has been working so hard since September,” said Schurr coach David Argumosa, in his fifth season. “We did not play that many matches early, so we were not ranked very high in the beginning of the season, but the whole idea was to gear toward the end of the season.
“I’ve got a deep bench and I can plug different players into different spots and not miss a beat. Having the ability and the right pieces of the puzzle made all the difference.”
Agoura (22-9) missed a chance to make its first CIF-SS final since 2007.
It was heartbreak city for Agoura, which led 5-3 with 5:57 left in the match after a goal from Lexi Rond, who had three goals. Maddie Demattia scored twice.
“I just thought at that point, it was ours,” said Rond, who is headed to Santa Barbara City College to continue her career. “I wish I could tell you what happened there. I’m honestly not sure. The only thing I’m sure about is that we gave it our all. We still had a great season and I was honored to be able to play with these girls.”
Schurr did it with balance as seven players accounted for the seven goals.
Lizbeth Guzman, Milena Guzman and Nayeli Cisneros scored in the first half.
Then Valeria Martinez, Cynthia Rosa, Kayla Santos and Jassmine Kezman rattled off the four consecutive goals in the fourth quarter. Santos delivered the tie-breaking goal with 1:29 left in the match.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared,” Santos said. “Should I shoot it? Should I not shoot it? So I just shot it and it went in.
“I was so hyped. I was like ‘Whoo.’”
The dagger came from Kezman with 31 seconds left to put the match on ice to cap the dramatic comeback.
“Their goalie kept fading with our shots, so I decided to go near-post instead. That put us up by two, and even if they scored, we knew we had this game,” Kezman said. “When we were down, we never thought it was over. The game was still going and we were not going to stop until the end.”
Schurr goalkeeper Itzahiana Baca said she liked the way her defense responded when Schurr began making its fourth-quarter comeback.
“All of their shooters were really good, but my team just really stepped up, especially in that fourth quarter,” Baca said.
Schurr’s comeback foiled a fantastic performance from Agoura goalkeeper Emma Pfister, who made 11 saves, including a pivotal stop of a 5-meter shot midway through the second quarter that seemed to give Agoura momentum, at least for a little while.
“It could be all in my head, but I did notice a change in the team after that 5-meter,” Pfister said. “We got our normal Agoura mentality back.
“We played a really great game. Did it end the way we wanted? No, but it was still a great season.”

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CIF-SS Playoffs: Girls basketball final four ousted

Whittier Christian’s Joleen Corona (22) battles with Pasadena’s Taurie Magee (4) in their CIF quarterfinal girls basketball game at Whittier Christian High School in La Habra on Wednesday February 22, 2017. Pasadena defeated Whittier Christian 54-48. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

The area girls basketball season likely came to an end Wednesday as the area’s final four — Sonora, El Rancho, California, and Whittier Christian all lost in the semifinals. All in theory could apply for at-large bids to the state tournament, but it’s not likely they’ll we’ll be picked.
Here’s Wednesday’s wrap up:


LA HABRA — It’s been a special season for the Pasadena High School girls basketball team, and it keeps getting better.Taurie Magee scored 18 points and had 17 rebounds and the Bulldogs rallied in the fourth quarter to advance to the CIF Southern Section semifinals with a 54-48 victory over host Whittier Christian in a Division 4AA quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Kamesha Moore also had 14 points for Pasadena (22-9), which will host top-seeded Village Christian, a 46-35 winner over Nipomo, in Saturday’s semifinals.
Christa Evans had 18 points and Clairessa Watkins 14 for the Heralds (20-10).
Pasadena looked in trouble after trailing 37-34 after three quarters. But Magee and Gillian Smith (seven points) led a fourth-quarter resurgence, keying an 11-6 surge to begin the period and give the Bulldogs a 45-43 lead. Magee tied it at 41 on a putback with 5:06 left before Smith converted a turnover into a fast-break layup for the two-point lead with 3:40 remaining.

Evans tied the score at 45 with an inside shot before Nia Cathcart made consecutive layups for some breathing room at 49-45 with 2:35 left.
Evans cut it to 49-47 with 1:50 left, but that was as close as the Heralds got.
Smith hit from seven feet for a 51-47 lead before Moore made two free throws and Cathcart made one to seal it at 54-48 with four seconds left.
Pasadena’s Taurie Magee: “I’m excited. This is the first time we’ve (advanced this far) in about 10 years. I’m excited for myself and my team.”
— Stephen Ramirez
CERRITOS — California High School gave the No. 3-ranked Cerritos Valley Christian High School girls basketball team all it could handle in a CIF Southern Section Division 4AA quarterfinal game Wednesday night.The Condors, who have never been to the CIF-SS semifinals in school history, came oh so close for a team that was much shorter than its opponents.
But in the end, Valley Christian wore down No. 6 seed Cal with three big 3-ponters in the fourth quarter and won going away, 50-40, to advance to its second semifinal since the 2009 season.
With 2:05 left in the game and Cal trailing 42-38, Bushong gave the Crusaders (20-8) a seven-point lead that Cal couldn’t recover.
McKinnie led Valley with a game-high 26 points. Sophomore Calla Anderson had 11.
Cal (19-8) was led by senior forward Paris Rivera with a team-high 16 points.
Cal seniors Farah Waked and Karla Valdez and junior guard Alejah Navarro all had six points each.
“She is probably one of the hardest workers we’ve had as far as putting in extra time,” Barber said of Rivera.
One of the littlest players on the court Wednesday was 5-foot sophomore guard Nicole Robles, who had one 3-ponter and ran the offense for Cal.
“We had a hard-fought season and gave them a good game,” she said. “For the future, the underclassmen are going to be really good.”
Both teams exchanged baskets for much of the first half with the Crusaders holding a one-point advantage in each of the first (21-20) and second quarters (31-30).
In the third quarter each team played even, scoring 10 points each for a 31-30 Valley Christian advantage.
California coach Brian Barber: “We had some defensive lapses at the beginning of the fourth quarter when we let (Cheyenne McKinnie) get open for a couple of (3-pointers) and she hit them both. Then they had another kid (McKenna Bushong) who hit a 3 and that was the back-breaker.”
Cal’s Paris Rivera: “We made it far and tried our hardest. I know this team will see the quarterfinals again. We believe we were ready and it wasn’t about who was better, but who wanted it more.”
“I love this group of kids, they are so much fun. But we did struggle most of the year because we were little.”
— John Sherrard
Division 1AA

Canyon Country Canyon 49, Sonora 46
Bishop Montgomery 58, El Rancho 41
Division 2

El Rancho 3, Chino Hills 1
Division 2

El Rancho (20-2-2) at Hueneme (18-2-0)

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