About Steve Ramirez

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

Basketball Rankings: It’s all about Cantwell

Cantwell, with Luka Radovic (44), continues to grab the top spot in the Daily News boys basketball rankings. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Cantwell, with Luka Radovic (44), continues to grab the top spot in the Daily News boys basketball rankings. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

DAILY NEWS BASKETBALL RANKINGS
BOYS
1. Cantwell (12-8)

Spotty record, but has wins over Price, Maranatha
2. Sonora (17-3)
In first in Freeway and pulling away
3. La Mirada (16-4)
Its a new ball game in Suburban after beating Mayfair
4. Whittier (17-3)
Still team to beat in Del Rio
5. California (12-7)
Travels to Whittier on Friday
6. Pioneer (11-6)
Pounded Whittier, but lost to Cal last week
7. Santa Fe (8-8)
Still afloat in Del Rio race
8. Whittier Chr. (14-6)
Falling out of contention in Olympic
9. Schurr (10-11)
Didn’t have enough vs. Keppel
10. La Serna (9-11)
Swept in two games last week
SCORING LEADERS
Jonathan Mayorga, Pioneer, 25.0
Kendall Lauderdale, La Mirada, 16.6
Aaron Mejia, Montebello, 14.6
Miguel Salazar, Whittier, 13.8
Nathan Reynaga, Montebello, 13.2
Christian Alvis-Labadie, Whit Chr. 13.2
Justin Osborn, Whit Chr., 13.1
Anthony Rios, Whittier, 12.9
Vittorio Reynoso-Avila, La Mirada, 12.6
Alan Elguea, Pioneer, 11.9
Pablo Lopez, Schurr, 11.0
Dominic Saldana, Whittier, 10.9
Anthony Olivarez, Whittier, 10.7
Kyle Mangubat, Schurr., 10.8
Anthony Newman, La Mirada, 10.4
Noah Evans, Whit Chr., 9.7
GIRLS
1. Cantwell (16-3)

Plays St. Monica for first on Tuesday
2. St. Paul (11-6)
Tough league taking its toll
3. La Habra (11-7)
Lost first-place battle to Troy
4. Sonora (13-5)
Faces La Habra for second on Wednesday
5. Whittier (13-8)
Coasted to easy wins last week
6. El Rancho (12-9)
Whittier’s top challenger in Del Rio
7. Santa Fe (11-6)
Playing for third?
8. Montebello (13-6)
Gets its crack at Keppel this week
9. Schurr (10-9)
Had its moments vs. Keppel
10. La Serna (8-10)
Needs a big week
SCORING LEADERS
Lily Perkins, Cantwell., 16.1 ppg
Crystal Rodriguez, El Rancho, 13.5
Dennisa Gallegos, Santa Fe, 13.3
Lainie James, Sonora, 12.5
Sarah Gurrola, El Rancho, 11.8
Emma Zener, La Habra, 11.7
Meghann Henderson, Sonora, 11.0
Amanda Cuervo, La Habra, 10.7
Vanessa Espinosa, Cantwell, 10.1
Christa Evans, Whittier Chr., 9.9
Cassandra Hair, Whittier, 9.8
Monique Mesa, Cantwell, 9.5
Stephanie Guerra, Cantwell, 9.2
Janelle Rocha, Pioneer, 9.0

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Signing Day 2015: Gathering this year’s list, let us know of any that are missing

It’s that time of year again — National Signing Day is fast approaching. Here’s who we have who will sign that day. Please e-mail me at steve.ramirez@langnews.com for any who you know who might be signing that day so we can add them:

FOOTBALL
Tony Brown (La Mirada), WR — Texas Tech
Carlos Martin (La Habra), RB — Portland State
Noah Evans (Whittier Chr.), WR — Undecided
Landon Jones (La Mirada), WR — Undecided
Robert Caggiano (La Mirada), DB – Undecided
Anthony Cerillo (La Mirada), OL — Undecided
Vic Penales (La Mirada, OL — Undecided
J.T. Bale (La Mirada), LS — Undecided
Mike Wheeler (La Habra), LB – Valparaiso
GIRLS WATER POLO
Madison Flareau (La Serna) — Notre Dame

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Keppel basketball teams sweep Schurr to take over first in Almont League


By Stephen Ramirez
MONTEBELLO — The road to the Almont League boys and girls basketball titles will go through Mark Keppel High School.
The Aztecs showed their supremacy in the league races with a doubleheader sweep at Schurr on Friday.
Bertram Mak scored 22 points and had eight rebounds to give the boys a 59-47 victory over the Spartans in a battle of the league’s top teams. Keppel improved to 17-4 and 4-0. Schurr, getting 21 points from Cesar Trujillo, slipped to 10-10 and 3-1.
In the girls game, Sophia Song had 25 points and Kylie Fujioka 23 to lead Keppel to a 86-68 victory over the Spartans. The Aztecs improved to 14-5 and 4-0. Schurr, getting 13 points from Marisa Orozco, slipped to 10-11 and 3-1.

Keppel coach Hung Duong: “This was a big game. Who ever won this game became the team to beat. Schurr’s a solid team. It was hard-earned win, and a big win for us.”

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Girls Soccer: La Serna too much for Whittier, 3-0

 La Serna High's Michelle Reed (#8), right, dribble upfield with Whittier High's Samantha Quezada (#27) defending Jan. 22, 2015. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)

La Serna High’s Michelle Reed (#8), right, dribble upfield with Whittier High’s Samantha Quezada (#27) defending Jan. 22, 2015. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)

By Stephen Ramirez
WHITTIER –
It takes a lot to defeat the La Serna High School girls soccer team, and not even a defensive scheme by Whittier could pull it off on Thursday.
Senior Michelle Reed scored two goals and Hailee Morales had one as the visiting Lancers dominated the Cardinals en route to a 3-0 victory in a Del Rio League game.
La Serna outshot the Whittier, 35-1, including 22-1 in the first half, to improve to 8-4-5 overall and 4-0 in league play. The Lancers are ranked No. 10 in CIF-Southern Section Division 5 this week. They face rival California for first place in league next Tuesday.
Amanda Gonzalez had 11 saves for Whittier, which slipped to 3-12 and 0-4.


La Serna’s Michelle Reed: “We got very unlucky in the first half, and early in the second. We had plenty of shots on goal that should have gone in. But if they are playing eight in the back, we just need to be smarter and find our space, and be more patient in front of the goal, if we want to score.”

Whittier’s Amanda Gonzalez: “It’s really nerve-wracking. All the pressure is on the goalie. You don’t want to get scored on too many times. It was really hard, but I wanted to come through for the team. I tried my best. I got scored on three times, but I stopped a few.”

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Sophomore Lily Perkins leads Cantwell Sacred Heart girls basketball

Cantwell girls basketball player Lily Perkins at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello, Calif., on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Cantwell girls basketball player Lily Perkins at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello, Calif., on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez
MONTEBELLO — The Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School girls basketball features a roster with four seniors, but the key to the Cardinals’ success this season lies with one of its younger players — sophomore Lily Perkins.
Perkins, despite her youth, is one of the top players in the area.
“She’s quite an asset to our team,” said Cantwell coach Matt Zamora, who is in his first season at the Montebello school after spending the past few years at nearby Santa Fe. “I got lucky having her here, in the first place. She does a lot of things necessary for us to win.
“She can score, she can rebound. She plays good defense, blocks shots. But beside from that, there are little subtle things she does well. But because of her size and athleticism, she’s just a tough matchup for a lot of teams.”

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Boys basketball: Cantwell no match for Cathedral in 57-50 loss

 Cathedral's Leo Barberena (30) blocks the shot by Cantwell's Jacob Davidson (10) in the first half of a prep basketball game at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif., on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Cathedral’s Leo Barberena (30) blocks the shot by Cantwell’s Jacob Davidson (10) in the first half of a prep basketball game at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif., on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)


By Stephen Ramirez
WHITTIER –
Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School might be the best boys basketball team in the area, but the Cardinals showed Wednesday they still have a few ways to go to catch the top teams in the Del Rey League.
Milan Acquaah scored 20 points and Leandro Amador and Lucas Siewert had 11 each to lead the Cathedral to a 57-50 victory over Cantwell in a league game at Rio Hondo College.

Jameel McGill also had eight points for Cathedral, which improved to 15-3 overall and 1-1 in league play. The Phantoms are ranked No. 1 in CIF-Southern Section Division 3A and in the state top 10. Jacob Davison had 20 points for the Cardinals, who slipped to 11-8 and 1-1. Cantwell is No. 2 in 3A.
Cantwell coach George Zedan: “They’re a very good team. I thought we had a really good game plan. We made a couple of mistakes on defense, and when ever you have a team like that, they made us pay. I thought some of our guys, with it being a tough game, a rivalry game, they let the moment get the best of them. We settled in the last two minutes of the third quarter, but then it’s too little, too late.”

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Boys Soccer: Jose Contreras’ two goals push California past El Rancho, 2-1

 Cal High's Jose Contreras (9) makes a goal as they play El Rancho on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. Cal High defeats El Rancho 2-1. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Cal High’s Jose Contreras (9) makes a goal as they play El Rancho on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. Cal High defeats El Rancho 2-1. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez
PICO RIVERA —
El Rancho High School has been the dominant boys soccer team in the Del Rio the past few seasons. But the Dons’ reign may be about to end.
Jose Contreras scored two first-half goals and California took a hold of the league title chase with a 2-1 victory over host El Rancho on Tuesday.

The Condors, ranked No. 7 in CIF-Southern Section Division 2, improved to 13-0 overall and 3-0 in league play. El Rancho, which got a goal from Rodrigo Saldana, slipped to 6-8 and 2-1.

California coach Ivan Todorovic: “El Rancho is a team very well known in the league. They won the Southern Section two years ago, and I knew this would be a very difficult game. We were missing four starting players and we didn’t play up to our level. Maybe, El Rancho deserved to win this game, but we fought hard and made it happen.”

El Rancho coach Gerry Goyenaga: “We had our chances early in the game that we didn’t put away. That kind of bit us again. But Cal’s a good team and they took care of their chances.”

Cal’s Jose Contreras: “The pass made it through the (defense). I was able get by, and shoot it to the left (of the goalie).”

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Basketball: Cantwell comes up short, loses to El Camino Real, 43-41


By Stephen Ramirez
PASADENA –
Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary might have been at half strength, with its top player nursing a rib injury, but it still manage to account for itself quite nicely Monday.
It took some last-second heroics from El Camino Real’s to knock off the Cardinals, 43-41, in a boys basketball game at the MLK Day Showdown at La Salle High School.
The winning play was turned in by the Conquistadors’ Stone Spellman, who dropped in a layup with five seconds left for the two-point win. Chris Terry had 13 points to lead El Camino Real, which improved to 11-6.
Cantwell had a chance for the win, but Jacob Davidson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short. Balsa Dragovic had 15 points for the Cardinals, who slipped to 11-6. Cantwell was without leading-scorer Gligorije Rakocevic, who is nursing a rib injury. Rakocevic and Dragovic have signed to play at Oregon State and Harvard, respectively.
Terry made two 3-pointers to give the Conquistadors a 41-40 lead with 39 seconds left. Radovic then made one of two free throws to tie it at 41 with 32 seconds remaining, setting up Spellman’s last second shot. He drove the lane for the winning layup with five seconds left.
Davidson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was short.
Cantwell coach George Zedan: “I’m proud of our kids. I’m disappointed with the loss, but at the end of the day, (El Camino Real) is a very good team. We just didn’t make enough plays to come in at the end and steal a win.”

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Basketball Rankings: Cantwell, St. Paul hold on to top spots

Whittier is moving on up (Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)

Whittier is moving on up
(Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)

DAILY NEWS BASKETBALL RANKINGS
BOYS

1. Cantwell (11-6)
Routed Serra, St. Bernard
2. Sonora (15-3)
Two big wins to open league
3. La Mirada (14-4)
At Suburban leader Mayfair on Friday
4. Whittier (16-2)
Will they lose in Del Rio?
5. California (10-7)
No match for Whittier
6. Whittier Chr. (13-4)
Hosts Maranatha on Tuesday
7. Santa Fe (7-7)
1 of four tied for second in Del Rio
8. Pioneer (10-5)
Drops after loss to Santa Fe
9. La Serna (9-9)
Gets it shot at Whittier this week
10. Schurr (9-0)
Tied for first in Almont
SCORING LEADERS
Jonathan Mayorga, Pioneer, 25.0
Kendall Lauderdale, La Mirada, 16.4
Aaron Mejia, Montebello, 15.4
Nathan Reynaga, Montebello, 14.0
Justin Osborn, Whit Chr., 13.4
Miguel Salazar, Whittier, 13.0
Vittorio Reynoso-Avila, La Mirada, 12.8
Christian Alvis-Labadie, Whit Chr. 12.5
Anthony Rios, Whittier, 12.5
Alan Elguea, Pioneer, 11.9
Dominic Saldana, Whittier, 11.3
Pablo Lopez, Schurr, 11.0
Anthony Olivarez, Whittier, 10.9
Kyle Mangubat, Schurr., 10.8
Noah Evans, Whit Chr., 10.2
Anthony Newman, La Mirada, 10.2
GIRLS
1. St. Paul (11-3)

Won at Bishop Amat last week
2. Cantwell (14-3)
Looking like league favorite
3. La Habra (10-6)
Tied for first in Freeway
4. Sonora (13-5)
Gets shot at La Habra next week
5. Whittier (11-8)
New team to beat in Del Rio
6. Santa Fe (10-5)
Tied for first in league
7. El Rancho (10-9)
Came up short vs. Whittier
8. Montebello (11-6)
In early hole in Almont
9. La Serna (1-1)
Hosts Whittier on Friday
10. Schurr (9-8)
Consecutive wins to open Almont
SCORING LEADERS
Lilly Perkins, Cantwell., 15.4 ppg
Dennisa Gallegos, Santa Fe, 15.0
Crystal Rodriguez, El Rancho, 13.2
Lainie James, Sonora, 12.5
Sarah Gurrola, El Rancho, 11.5
Meghann Henderson, Sonora, 11.0
Emma Zener, La Habra, 11.0
Amanda Cuervo, La Habra, 10.6
Natalie Garcia, Santa Fe, 10.5
Vanessa Espinosa, Cantwell, 10.3
Christa Evans, Whittier Chr., 10.2
Monique Mesa, Cantwell, 9.5
Cassandra Hair, Whittier, 9.5
Janelle Rocha, Pioneer, 9.0

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Girls Basketball: Julia Ochoa comes up big late as Whittier beats El Rancho, 42-40

Whittier's Julia Ochoa drives by El Rancho's Cassie Fischer in a Del Rio League game on Friday. Ochoa made the winning shot in the Cardinals' 42-40 victory. (Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)

Whittier’s Julia Ochoa drives by El Rancho’s Cassie Fischer in a Del Rio League game on Friday. Ochoa made the winning shot in the Cardinals’ 42-40 victory.
(Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)

By Stephen Ramirez
WHITTIER — It might be just the first week of the league season, but that didn’t diminish what the Whittier High School girls basketball team accomplished on Friday.
Julia Ochoa scored 13 points and hit a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left as the host Cardinals took an early step toward Del Rio League supremacy with a 42-40 victory over El Rancho.
Whittier also getting 10 points from Sam Calderon improved to 11-8 overall and 2-0 in the Del Rio League. El Rancho, getting 12 points from Crystal Rodriguez and 10 from Sarah Gurrola, slipped to 10-9 and 1-1.


El Rancho, which had an 8-0 run during a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, went up 38-37 with 1:54 left on a free throw by Rodriguez. But Ochoa, after Whittier forced back-to-back stops, hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 59 seconds left for the 40-38 lead.
The Dons had several opportunities down the stretch to tie it or win it. El Rancho, which made just 6 of 21 free throws, was only 2 of 13 in the fourth quarter, including 0 for 6 in the final minute.
Whittier coach Willie Pittman: “This is big, because they are the defending champs. They are the ones we have to make sure we compete against. They have the target on their back and we are just trying to get back in the game. We had some good games (against El Rancho) last season, but we fell off down the stretch. This time, we finally held on.”

Whittier’s Julia Ochoa: “I wasn’t really thinking about the situation. But the shots at the end are the ones that are the most important. We had to make our threes. We just wanted to make our shots, pick up the intensity, play defense.”

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