Highlanders step up their competition level this week

Unbeaten La Habra will get its toughest test of the season Friday when it hosts Mission Viejo at Cerritos College.
Both teams sport 3-0 records, and both are ranked No. 2 in their CIF-SS playoff divisions, Mission Viejo in the Pac-5, La Habra in the Southwest.
Other teams facing their stiffest competition this week will be unbeaten Santa Fe and Whittier Christian. Seven of this weekend’s games feature at least one team ranked in its division.
Here’s a look at the schedule and my picks for the week.

Thursday
La Mirada (0-3) at St. Francis (2-0) – La Mirada
Westlake (2-1) vs. La Serna (2-1) at Cal High – La Serna
Friday
Mission Viejo (3-0) vs. La Habra (3-0) at Cerritos College – Mission Viejo
Santa Fe (3-0) at Corona Santiago (1-2) – Corona Santiago
St. Margaret’s (2-0) vs. Whittier Christian (3-0) at Whittier College – Whittier Christian
Cal (1-1) at Fullerton (3-0) – Fullerton
Schurr (0-2) at Diamond Ranch (2-1) – Diamond Ranch
Norwalk (3-0) vs. Whittier (2-1) at Cal High – Norwalk
Montebello (1-2) at El Rancho (1-2) – El Rancho
Damien (1-1) at St. Paul (0-3) – Damien
Mountain View (2-0) vs. Pioneer (2-1) at La Mirada High – Pioneer
L.A. Roosevelt (3-0) at Cantwell-Sacred Heart (0-2) – L.A. Roosevelt

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El Rancho has little trouble with Warren in water polo victory

Led by sophomore goalie Jason Curiel and an effective transition game, El Rancho High’s boys water polo team earned a 23-10 nonleague victory over host Warren on Wednesday.
Curiel made 11 saves and added eight steals with aggressive play around his cage, which triggered the Dons’ counterattack. Parlox Rodriguez had four assists and Ricardo Robles scored seven times as El Rancho improved to 5-2.
“He’s the backbone,” El Rancho coach John Pringle said of Curiel. “We put a lot of faith in him. He’s aggressive, but he takes smart risks.”
With Curiel directing the attack, El Rancho consistently beat Warren in transition and converted outnumbered chances. Robles scored goals in the third quarter on two-on-one and three-on-one chances, and Curiel added an assist in the fourth with a nice pass to Daniel Gomez.
“We can create (offensive opportunities) with our defense and our team speed,” said Pringle. “If we can (finish scoring chances) on a consistent basis, we’re gonna be very competitive in (the Del Rio League).”

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Highlanders hold their ground in WDN Top 10

For the first time in three weeks, the No. 1 team in the Daily News football poll kept that position, with unbeaten La Habra earning a convincing 41-7 victory over St. Paul.
The Highlanders, ranked No. 2 in the CIF-SS Southwest Division poll, held onto the spot after both La Mirada and La Serna suffered losses soon after topping the Daily News poll. But they’ll get their toughest test of the young season Friday when they host Mission Viejo at Cerritos College. The Diablos are ranked No. 2 in the Pac-5 Division.
La Serna rebounded from its loss to Los Osos by whipping Schurr and held the No. 2 position, but La Mirada’s third consecutive defeat sent it from No. 3 to No. 4 this week. Fresh off Christian Lara’s record-setting performance last week, Santa Fe moved fourth to third. But the Chiefs (3-0) will have a big challenge this week when they visit Corona Santiago.
Seven of the 12 area games this week feature an opponent ranked among the top 10 in its playoff division. Norwalk, ranked No. 1 in the Southeast Division, will take on Whittier at Cal High, and Whittier Christian hosts St. Margaret’s, the No. 2 team in the East Valley Division.

1. La Habra (3-0)
2. La Serna (2-1)
3. Santa Fe (3-0)
4. La Mirada (0-3)
5. Whittier Christian (3-0)
6. Cal (1-1)
7. El Rancho (1-2)
8. Montebello (1-2)
9. Whittier (2-1)
10. Schurr (0-2)

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How the Top 10 fared

1. La Habra (3-0): Defeated St. Paul 41-7

2. La Serna (2-1): Defeated Schurr 39-8

3. La Mirada (0-3): Lost to Servite 38-14

4. Santa Fe (3-0): Defeated Godiniez 49-6

5. Whittier Christian (3-0): Defeated Whittier 27-20

6. Cal (1-1): Lost to Troy 35-6

7. El Rancho (1-2): Lost to Bell Gardens 41-25

8. Schurr (0-2): Lost to La Serna 39-8

9. Whittier (2-1): Lost to Whittier Christian 27-20

10. Montebello (1-2): Defeated S. El Monte 57-21

This week’s schedule

All times 7 p.m. unless noted

Thursday

Westlake vs. La Serna at Cal High

La Mirada at St. Francis

Friday

Mission Viejo vs. La Habra at Cerritos College, 7:30 p.m.

Santa Fe at Corona Santiago

St. Margaret’s vs. Whittier Christian at Whittier College

Cal at Animo South L.A.

Montebello at El Rancho

Schurr at Diamond Ranch

Norwalk vs. Whittier at Cal High

Damien at St. Paul, 7:30 p.m.

Mountain View vs. Pioneer at La Mirada High

Roosevelt at Cantwell-Sacred Heart

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C-SHM ends a long day of VB by winning its bracket

After struggling in its first two matches of the Burbank Tournament last weekend, the girls volleyball team from Cantwell-Sacred Heart found its groove and placed first in its bracket.
The Cardinals opened with a two-game loss to Immaculate Heart and a 1-1 split with Quartz Hill, which kept them out of the Gold Bracket and put them into the Silver. But Cantwell-Sacred Heart followed with victories over Bravo, Jurupa Valley, Sylmar and Providence to claim first place.
“It took the girls a little while to get into a rhythm and get going,” Cardinals coach Jessica Bakkers said.
The play of senior co-captains Nada Dragovic and Katelyn Mejia helped push the tired team on. Playing their sixth match of the day, the Cardinals were exhausted but inspired by Dragovic, and outside hitter, and setter Mejia.
“They carried them to the end,” Bakkers said.
Cantwell-Sacred Heart continues nonleague play Tuesday at home against Bishop Conaty-Loretto at 5 p.m.

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Santa Fe rises to No. 2 in Southeast Division poll

After improving to 3-0 last week, Santa Fe has moved to No. 2 in this week’s CIF-SS Southeast Division poll.
The Chiefs routed Godinez 49-6 on Thursday and moved up from No. 4 a week ago. Two-time Southeast finalist La Serna (2-1) moved up a spot to No. 5 in the Southeast after beating Schurr 39-8, and La Mirada (0-3) fell for the third consecutive week, from sixth to eighth, following its 38-14 loss to Servite. Norwalk, which will face Whittier this week, is 3-0 and ranked No. 1 in the division.
La Habra (3-0) held its No. 2 ranking in the Southwest Division for the third week in a row following its 41-7 victory over St. Paul. The Highlanders trail only Edison in the division.
A week after falling one place to seventh in the Northwest Division, Whittier Christian regained the No. 6 ranking following its 27-20 victory over Whittier.

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Lara eclipses long-time Santa Fe passing records in rout

Junior quarterback Christian Lara broke a pair of Santa Fe High passing records Thursday that stood for over 30 years.
Lara threw for 446 yards and six touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 49-6 nonleague rout of Godinez at Segerstrom High. That effort eclipsed records set by Jeff Mahlstede in 1980. Mahlstede, while playing for his father Jack, set the previous mark with five TDs in a single game.
Lara completed 20 of 28 passes, and had several short throws converted into long gainers with the help of his receivers. His longest pass of the game went to Andrew Doria, who caught a ball in the flat and then outran the Godinez defense for 78 yards and a score early in the fourth. Lara was 6 for 7 in the second half and left the game following Doria’s TD.
Brandon Takata had four catches for 131 yards and two scores. On his second TD, a 14-yarder in the second quarter, Takata initially bobbled the pass but regained possession as he was falling to the ground in the back of the end zone.
“He performed great,” Lara said of Takata. “His routes were sharp, and he was catching everything.”

High-flying Titans
Pioneer’s wild 55-49 victory over Rancho Alamitos brought its point total to a whopping 99 over the last two games and to 119 for the season.
Quarterback Jonathan Jimenez topped the 300-yard passing plateau and threw five touchdowns for the Titans, who improved to 2-1 with their second consecutive victory. Julio Reynoso added over 100 receiving yards, a receiving TD and two interceptions, and Christian Red ran for 102 yards and two TDs. Coach Chuck Willig estimated his team ran close to 70 offensive plays.
“It was just about as insane as one of those (high-scoring Mid-America Conference) games,” Willig said.
Conversely, Pioneer has allowed 103 points this season and 75 in its last two games.

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Look for La Habra to improve to 3-0 this week

I’m pretty certain the top-ranked team in the Whittier Daily News’ football poll won’t lose for the third consecutive week.
La Habra, this week’s No. 1 team after losses from then-top ranked La Mirada and La Serna, hosts winless St. Paul on Friday. Sophomore QB Eric Barriere and Co. will improve to 3-0 and stay on the heels of Edison in the CIF-SS Southwest Division poll.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s schedule and my picks in each game.
Thursday
Santa Fe (2-0) vs. Godinez (1-1) at Segerstrom High – Santa Fe
Rancho Alamitos (0-2) vs. Pioneer (1-1) at Cal High – Pioneer
Friday
St. Paul (0-2) at La Habra (2-0) – La Habra
Servite (1-1) at La Mirada (0-2) – Servite
Whittier (2-0) vs. Whittier Christian (2-0) at Whittier College – Whittier Christian
Cal (1-0) vs. Troy (1-0) at Fullerton High – Cal
Bell Gardens (0-1) at El Rancho (1-1) – Bell Gardens
South El Monte (1-0) at Montebello (0-2) – South El Monte
Cantwell-Sacred Heart (0-1) at El Segundo (1-0) – El Segundo

Last week’s picks: 8-2
Season total: 15-5

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