About Steve Ramirez

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

Basketball: Esperanza ends CSHM girls season; Sonora, El Rancho, Cal, Whittier Chr., Pioneer advance; La Serna boys advance

Cantwell-Sacred Heart’s Lily Perkins (4) fights through Esperanza’s defense to shoot during a CIF-SS girls playoff game at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. Cantwell-Sacred Heart fell to Esperanza 50-42. (Correspondent photo by Trevor Stamp)

The Cantwell-Sacred Heart High girls basketball team gave everything it had against Esperanza on Saturday in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.However, it was too little, too late as Esperanza pulled away late in the fourth quarter for a 50-42 win over the Cardinals in a second-round game.The win advances the Aztecs (25-3) to the quarterfinals for the third year in a row, and they will travel to JW North of Riverside on Wednesday.
Cantwell, which lost in the Division 4A title game last year, ends its season at 15-14.
Leading the way for Cantwell was senior guard Lily Perkins with a game-high 19 points. The Aztecs were led by freshman guard Katie Kubo with 15 points, including three 3-ponters.
Sophomore forwards Sarah Youssouf and Samantha Fries added nine points each for Esperanza.
After trailing for most of the first three quarters, the Cardinals tied the score 33-33 early in the fourth quarter, but a missed Cantwell layup and back-to-back 3-pointers by the Aztecs gave Esperanza the momentum back.
Esperanza took a 39-35 lead at that point and maintained a lead the rest of the game.
Cantwell only managed one basket in the first quarter, with junior guard Valeria Lizarraga making a 3-pointer in the first minute for the Cardinals’ only lead, 3-0. The Aztecs outscored Cantwell 12-2 the rest of the quarter for a 12-5 lead.
Cantwell outscored the Aztecs 12-9 in the second quarter trail by only four points at halftime. After a missed long-range shot with seconds left in the half, Cantwell senior center Emily Guerena (6 points) hit a putback at the buzzer to leave the Cardinals trailing 21-17 at the break.
Early in the third quarter with Cantwell trailing 25-17, junior guard Victoria Guerrero made consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Cardinals within a basket, 25-23.
Perkins, who transferred from West Covina High in her freshman year, scored 10 points in the second half to keep the Cardinals close.
“I’m glad that I made the transfer here and had a great four years,” Perkins said. “I’m excited to continue my basketball career in college.”
CSHM coach Leonard Dominguez: “The league (Del Rey) that we play in is so tough that we can compete with any team out there. Unfortunately we didn’t do the little things like rebounding and boxing out. That came back to bite us in the end.”
CSHM’s Lily Perkins: “The reason we lost this game is it came down to our defense, and we couldn’t stop them. We just couldn’t finish around the basket.”
— John Sherrard
Second Round

Sonora 59, Lakewood 50
Esperanza 50, CSHM 42
El Rancho 46, Antelope Valley 43
Lompoc 49, La Habra 46, OT
California 46, Palmdale 36
Whittier Christian 43, Cathedral City 29
Pioneer 49, Sage Hill 40
All games begin at 7 p.m.

Sonora (19-9) at Canyon Country Canyon (19-9)
El Rancho (25-4) at Bishop Montgomery (18-9)
California (19-7) at Cerritos Valley Christian (19-8)
Pasadena (22-9) at Whittier Christian (20-9)
Pioneer vs. Bevery Hills-Big Bear (Monday) winner, site TBA
Saturday’s Score
Second Round

La Serna 68, San Gabriel Academy 61
All games begin at 7 p.m.

Santa Monica (20-7) at Cantwell-SHM (14-14)
Schurr (22-6) at Rancho Mirage (27-3)
La Serna (26-2) at Brentwood (20-8)
St. Paul (22-5) at Lompoc Carbillo (26-3)

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Big opening leads St. Paul to quarterfinals; CSHM, Schurr also advance

St. Paul’s Louis Bangai (20) is pressured by an Eastside defender in their CIF second round boys basketball playoff game at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs on Friday February 17, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

St. Paul High School’s basketball success over the past decade had been limited to the girls team.But times have changed for the Swordsmen, who now field a pretty good boys squad. They proved how good again on Friday.Louis Bangai scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds and St. Paul advanced to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals with a 62-44 victory over Lancaster Eastside in a Division 3A second-round game at St. Paul.
The No. 2 Swordsmen (22-5), who also got 14 points from Nate Kasongo and 12 from Kylan Mann, advanced to the second round of 4A last season. They will face either Paraclete or Lompoc Cabrillo, who meet at a site to be determined. Amahd Bey scored 12 points for Eastside (14-14).
The Swordsmen pretty much sealed it early, beginning the game with an 11-0 surge that Eastside was never really able to cut into. Bangai had an inside shot and Kasongo had three free throws and two layups to key the quick start.
Bey hit a 3-pointer to begin the third quarter to get within 28-21, but St. Paul countered with two free throws by Bangai and a Kasongo’ fast-break layup to get the lead to 11 at 32-21 before leading 47-34 after three quarters.
Bangai, who was 14 of 17 from the free-throw line, pushed it to 51-36 with two free throws and an 8-foot fallaway with six minutes to play.
The lead blossomed to 58-38 with three minutes left following a Bangai three-point play and a layup by Kasongo.

“We started off (well) with our defense,” Bangai said. “We got them off the 3-point line and make them drive shots inside against me. Our defense was the key to the game.”
St. Paul coach Damaine Powell: “I thought the bye really helped us. They had to play a tough game in Ventura two days ago and then on one day’s rest drive out here in the rain. Their energy was low and I thought we capitalized on that. It was a 10-point game for the most part and we kind of separated a little bit in the third quarter.”
St. Paul’s Louis Bangai: “This is my senior year. Last year was nice, but our goal is to win the championship, so I have to pick it up every time I step on the court. That’s how I going to help my team win.”
— Stephen Ramirez
When Rancho Mirage’s Charles Neal walked off the court as the first half expired, he knew that his team still had a chance to come from behind. His team was facing an 11-point deficit with five seconds left on the clock, when Neal hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to pull the Rattlers within single digits.His instinct proved to be on the money as Rancho Mirage overcame its eight-point halftime deficit, behind Neal’s game-high 28 points, to knock off Santa Fe in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 3A playoffs.Neal’s 19 second-half points led the way for Rancho Mirage’s second-half surge.
The momentum shifted quickly at the start of the third quarter, when the Rattlers (27-3) went on a quick 6-0 run to slice their deficit to two points. Santa Fe managed to answer Rancho Mirage’s fast start with a much-needed 3-pointer from senior Joshua Hernandez with 5:40 remaining in the third to give the Chiefs a 38-33 advantage. Hernandez made 5 of 6 shot attempts, and was 4 for 4 from beyond the 3-point arc, for a team-high 15 points.
The Chiefs (19-9) managed to maintain the lead for the entire third quarter, but with 6:48 left in the game, Neal made a nice step back move and swished a baseline jumper to give the Rattlers a 50-48 lead, their first since the beginning of the first quarter.
With the score tied at 58, Rancho Mirage junior Koby Alvarez stepped up and hit a corner 3 for a three-point lead. Rattled after Alvarez’s shot, Santa Fe went scoreless in the last 1:22 of the game.
Corona finished with 13 points for the Chiefs while teammate Damian Santana chipped in 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Rancho Mirage’s 6-foot-7 junior Bryan Talley finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Santa Fe coach Leonard Romero: “We knew being at home, our crowd is great and we knew that it didn’t matter if the momentum shifted we would get it back to our side. But towards the end they made some big plays, some big shots and it kind of just carried away.”
— Will Hernandez
HUNTINGTON BEACH — Ocean View’s young boys basketball team displayed skill in spurts in their CIF-SS Division 3AA second round playoff game against visiting Schurr on Friday.But Schurr’s experience was evident, especially in the fourth quarter, when the Spartans played flawlessly and came away with a 74-63 victory.
Ocean View finishes the season with a 22-7 record, and were 10-0 in the Orange League.
But the Seahawks, whose roster is filled with juniors and sophomores, probably hadn’t seen a league opponent close to the caliber of the Jaedyn Bonilla, who led all scorers with 32 points, including a 14-for-15 performance from the free throw line.
In the fourth quarter, Bonilla was 8 for 8 from the line and the Spartans (22-7) hit 13 of 15, making it impossible for the Seahawks to erase an eight-point deficit over the final three minutes.
Paul Head led the Seahawks with 27 points, and made three 3-pointers that would have counted from NBA distance.
The Spartans opened the contest on a 16-9 run, highlighted by four 3-pointers.
Ocean View came back with a 13-2 run that included 3-pointers from Vincent Ciazzo, Christian Roberts and Paul Head.
But Schurr closed out the second quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 32-27 halftime lead.
The Seahawks best quarter of the game was the third, when they outscored Schurr 21-14, including a 10-4 run at the end of the quarter that tied the score at 46.
A 3-pointer from Bonilla early in the fourth put the Spartans ahead 51-48.
Kevin Sandoval’s first 3-pointer of the quarter put Schurr up 60-52 with 3:17 remaining and the junior’s second 3-pointer a minute later made the score 63-54, too many points for the Seahawks to make up.
— Lou Ponsi
One by one they funneled out of the locker room postgame, some with sweatshirt hoods on, the others with heads down, ultimately trying to mask the dejected feeling that was starting to sink in as they were met by family and friends for embraces of consolation.Chasing a lead from the middle of the first quarter on, fourth-seeded Sonora was unable to string together any semblance of consecutive defensive stops in the fourth quarter as Calabasas’ unselfish brand of offense repeatedly produced clutch buckets late as the Coyotes knocked off the Raiders 80-69 in a Division 1AA second round boys basketball game at Sonora High Friday night.
Suffering just their fourth loss of the season, the Raiders finished the year with a 25-4 clip. Calabasas (20-9) improved to 14-1 since the start of the new year and advances to play Rancho Verde on the road in next Tuesday night’s quarterfinals.
While four players finished in double figures for both squads, Calabasas had eight players account for field goals to Sonora’s five. Coyotes junior forward Ben Kaslow scored 10 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. Calabasas scored 33 points in the fourth, and notched points on 17 of their 20 possessions in the final eight minutes.
Trailing by six entering the final quarter, Sonora cut the deficit to a 1 early in the fourth, and on three separate possessions found itself within two or three points of the Coyotes.
With Calabasas’ nifty passing leading to easy baskets combined with Sonora’s 3-of-9 shooting in the final 2:30 of regulation, the Raiders were never able to even the score.
Raiders junior forward Lucas Everett led the team with 17 points on five 3-pointers.
Sonora’s Kevin Marlow: “It was one of those games where it just wasn’t our night. We couldn’t really make anything in the second half and they were making everything. I don’t think we played bad by any means, they’re just a good team and we got beat tonight.”
— Zach Cavanagh

Calabasas 80, Sonora 69
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 85, Temecula Valley 66
Cajon 67, Whittier 42
Rancho Mirage 65, Santa Fe 58
Schurr 74, Ocean View 63
St. Paul 62, Eastside 44
Second Round

La Serna at San Gabriel Academy, 7 p.m.
All games begin at 7 p.m.

Santa Monica (20-7) at Cantwell-SHM (14-14)
Schurr at Rancho Mirage
La Serna-San Gabriel Academy winner vs. Brentwood, site TBA
St. Paul at Paraclete-Lompoc Cabrillo winner

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Girls Soccer: La Serna loses on PKs; La Mirada survives shootout

Oak Hills advances on PKs, 3-2
La Serna High School cruised to another Del Rio League girls soccer tile this season, but that is lost on the Lancers right now.
That’s what the pain of postseason setback will do to a team, especially the way La Serna lost to Oak Hills in a CIF Southern Section Division 3 first-round game at California High on Thursday.
D’Sanye Nugent scored with 90 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 1 and the visiting Bulldogs outscored the Lancers 3-2 on penalty kicks to advance. Oak Hills (23-3-2) will host Santa Monica, a 1-0 winner over Murrieta Valley, in Tuesday’s second round.
Jillian Issacs scored for La Serna (15-8-2).
La Serna, which survived three consecutive corner kicks and one point-black save by Emma Gallegos, looked like it was off to the second round, clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the second half. But Nugent buried a direct kick from about 25 yards out with 90 seconds left in extra time. The shot glanced off the right post and in to tie it at 1.
Both teams missed on chances in overtime before it went to penalty kicks.
The Bulldogs’ scored on their first two attempts, getting goals from Tupou Suliafu and Charlie Baum. Issacs connected on her attempt to make it 3-2. But Oak Hills’ Desiree Pont converted for a 4-2 advantage. La Serna’s Emily Ruiz made it 4-3. But the Bulldogs’ Christina Macan blocked a shot by Andrea Vela before Alyssa Madrigal’s shot to tie was high, giving Oak Hills the victory.
Issacs gave La Serna the 1-0 lead in nearly held with a header off a corner-kick pass from Karina Banda in the 15th minute.
La Serna coach Chris Carroll: “I thought we had a good season. We played a tough schedule and lost some tough games, which I thought got us ready for something like this. But there’s nothing you can do when someone hits a shot like (Nugent’s) so close to ending the game. We played strong for 78 1/2 minutes.”
— Stephen Ramirez
Division 2

La Mirada 0, Fountain Valley 0
La Mirada advances on PKs, 4-3
Division 4
Camarillo 3, Schurr 2
California 4, Silverado 1
Division 5
Riverside Prep 2, Montebello 0
All games begin at 3 p.m.
Second Round
Division 2

La Mirada at Quartz Hill
Division 4
Laguna Beach at California

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Girls Basketball: Cal defeats La Mirada to reach second round for the first time since 2011; El Rancho also wins

California’s Aurea Estrella (10), left, and Farah Waked (12) celebrate their win over La Mirada in their CIF girls basketball playoff game at California High School in Whittier on Thursday February 16, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

It’s been a special season for the California High School girls basketball team and the Condors will get more time experiencing it.Denae Alvarez scored 12 points and Nicole Robles and Zoe Alvarez had 10 each to lead host California to a 50-32 victory over La Mirada in a CIF Southern Section 4AA first-round game on Thursday.
The Condors (18-7), making their first playoff appearance in three seasons, advanced to the second round for the first time since 2011 and will travel to Palmdale, a 36-30 winner over San Gorgonio, on Saturday.
Lauryn Jordan scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds for La Mirada (6-21). which had its season end against a Del Rio League team for the second consecutive season. Whittier defeated the Matadores 51-25 in the first round last season.
The game, which was tight for much of the first half, changed near the end of the second quarter. Cal, after giving up a 6-0 run, closed the half with a 5-0 burst, getting a 3-pointer by Valerie Vazquez and a fastbreak layup by Zoe Alvarez for a 22-17 lead at the break.
The Condors then outscored La Mirada 16-11 in the third for some breathing room before making shots down the stretch to win by 18.
Farah Waked keyed the 16-11 surge in the third quarter with three 3-pointers, the final one for a 38-26 with 53 seconds left in the quarter. Denae Alvarez also had a 3-pointer in the quarter and Zoe Alvarez and Paris Rivera hit short jumpers.
Jordan, who had 15 points in the first half, kept the Matadores within striking distance with consecutive turnarounds, but Robles pushed it to 43-30 with 2:13 left before a Zoe Alvarez’ three-point play made it 48-32 with 56 seconds left.

Cal’s Denae Alvarez: “We want to go as far as we can. I’m really proud of my team, because we’ve been working hard and we’re doing what we are supposed to do. It’s been really fun. It’s my senior year, so I’m really thankful for my team for getting us this far.”
— Stephen Ramirez
Beating a team twice is always a hard thing to do. El Rancho High School learned exactly what that meant through two quarters on Thursday night against Westminster. After dominating the Lions 68-41 in a nonleaguwe game three weeks ago, the Dons were struggling to put their foes away, leading 23-19 at halftime.
But in the second half, El Rancho’s size and full-court press defense became too much for young and undersized Westminster, defeating the Lions 54-47 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1A girls basketball playoffs.
For one half of basketball, Westminster (15-12, 7-3) really made it difficult for Del Rio League champion El Rancho (25-4) to get its rhythm going.
A few tweaks here and there was all El Rancho needed as Westminster never took the lead in the second half. Two quick 3-pointers by guards Nicole Mercado and Destiny Reyes gave the Dons a 29-19 lead with 6:31 to go in the third quarter. Immediately after Reyes’ shot went through the basket, Katz called a quick timeout to try and quiet the storm.
“I just thought that we came out a little soft,” Katz said. “We preached rebounding the whole week, we preached rebounding at halftime and I thought we gave up some easy baskets right there at the start of the third quarter. We had a chance to grab some rebounds and we didn’t do it and they hit a 3 off one of them. You got to do what you have to do to win the game and we didn’t rebound.”
A significant reason why Westminster struggled crashing the boards was El Rancho freshman center, 6-foot Amy Navarro. She finished with a team-high 13 points and 16 rebounds. Navarro’s post presence played an intricate role in the Dons’ 17-10 third quarter run that created enough separation going into the fourth.
“(Navarro) hurt us because we’re not very big and that hurt us inside,” Katz said. “But our bigs are mostly sophomores and juniors and they really battled all game, which bodes well for us next year.”
Westminster junior forward Nyla Bivens scored a game-high 14 points. With 1:14 to go, Bivens hit a field goal to cut the deficit to 11. But it was not enough, as Westminster’s Kianna Garcia, Brianna Green and Amy Yang all fouled out.
El Rancho senior guard Brittany Corona finished with 12 points.
El Rancho coach Randy Shigezane: “I knew it was going to be a lot tougher. I told the girls that it’s going to be difficult. It’s just the way it is. We made a few tweaks on offense and that’s pretty much it.”

Sonora 73, Cajon 30
El Rancho 54, Westminster 47
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 53, Patriot 40
Glendale 56, Whittier 46
La Habra 42, Dana Hills 39
Viewpoint 54, Montebello 48
Whittier Christian 50, Ontario 44
Pioneer 55, Bassett 48
All games begin at 7 p.m.

Lynwood at Sonora
El Rancho at Antelope Valley
Esperanza at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary
Lompoc at La Habra
California at Palmdale
Whittier Chr. at Cathedral City
Sage Hill at Pioneer

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