About Steve Ramirez

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

Friday Final: La Serna shocks St. Francis; Montebello’s season ends in loss to Northview

Anthony Garcia (24) of the La Serna Lancers celebrates with a teammate after scoring a touchdown during Friday's CIF football playoff game against the St. Francis Golden Knights at Cal High School. (Photo by Robert Huskey for Whittier Daily News)

Anthony Garcia (24) of the La Serna Lancers celebrates with a teammate after scoring a touchdown during Friday’s CIF football playoff game against the St. Francis Golden Knights at Cal High School. (Photo by Robert Huskey for Whittier Daily News)

LA SERNA 38, ST. FRANCIS 35

WHITTIER — La Serna High School may have finished second in the Del Rio League and wasn’t considered one of the favorites for the CIF-SS Southeast Division football championship, but the Lancers, who won it last season, believe the title is theirs until someone takes it away from them.
They continued to live by that motto on Friday.
Enrique Pacheco threw for 112 yards and two scores, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and La Serna advanced to the division semifinals for the fifth consecutive season with a 38-35 victory over top seed St. Francis at California High School.
Anthony Garcia rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown and Ruben Rios had 77 and a score for the Lancers, who improved to 10-2 and will travel to Crescenta Valley for next week’s semifinals.
Miles Bryant, in place of injured Jeremiah Martin, threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, and Dylan Crawford had five receptions for 136 yards for St. Francis, which finished 11-1.

– Stephen Ramirez
NORTHVIEW 42, MONTEBELLO 24
MONTEBELLO >> It’s been 26 years since Northview last appeared in a CIF-Southern Section semifinal game.
It’s now official. Northview started slowly but turned on the offense in the second quarter and defeated host Montebello, 42-24, in a Mid Valley Division quarterfinal game.
The Vikings, who defeated Montebello for the second time this season, won their seventh in a row and improved to 11-1. Montebello ended its season at 7-5.
The Vikings, who last won a CIF title in 1987, were led by running backs Alex Camacho and Elijah Grijalva with two touchdowns each.

– John Sherrard
NEXT WEEK’S SCHEDULE
SOUTHEAST DIVISION
SEMIFINALS
Friday

La Serna vs. Crescenta Vally, site TBA, 7:30 p.m.

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Boys Water Polo: La Serna’s season ends with 16-11 loss to Los Altos in Division 5 Semifinals

La Serna goalie Andrew Herberts (1A) blocks a Los Altos shot as teammate Steven Marcy (12) looks on in the first half of a prep water polo semifinal at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. Los Altos won 16-11. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News

La Serna goalie Andrew Herberts (1A) blocks a Los Altos shot as teammate Steven Marcy (12) looks on in the first half of a prep water polo semifinal at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. Los Altos won 16-11. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News

By Stephen Ramirez

DIAMOND BAR – All the Los Altos High School boys water polo team, after losing in the CIF-Southern Section finals last season, was a second chance.
The Conquerors will get it.
Justin Contreras scored six goals and George Millard had five to lead Los Altos to a 16-11 victory over La Serna in a Division 5 semifinal at Diamond Bar High School.
Guillermo Ocasio had three goals for Los Altos, which improved to 21-8 and will face either Claremont in Saturday’s final at William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine. The time will be announced Thursday morning. The Conquerors lost to Glendale in last season’s title game.
George Mooney had three goals for La Serna, which finished 20-12. The Lancers also got two goals each from Perry Louwers, Elias Acosta and Steven Marcy.
The key moment came early in the fourth quarter when it used back-to-back turnovers to score three consecutive goals for a 13-9 advantage. Contreras followed with two back-hand shots to push it to 15-10.
Los Altos’ Justin Contreras: “I said in the beginning of the year we’re going back to the finals to get that ring. I mean it. I really wanted to get back to the finals. It’s my senior year, and I’m going out with a bang.”
Los Altos co-coach Bobby Contreras: “I told the kids before the game that we’re going to make mistakes. But its what we do to fix the mistake. Getting down 3-0, it was a mistake. As long as we kept making the effort to correct the mistake, we were going to be OK. I thought the boys played a very good defensive game against (La Serna’s) attackers.”
La Serna coach Jim Armstrong: “We knew that even though we beat than twice this year we were going to see a different energy out of them tonight. We saw it. Sad part, from our perspective, is that we had them down 3-0, and, after falling behind, came back to lead 7-6 and had momentum. But we had some untimely mistakes and bad passes and they took advantage.”

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Cantwell Sacred Heart duo Balsa Dragovic and Gligorije Rakocevi sign Divsion I scholarship letters

Balsa Dragovic and Gligorije Rakocevi were two keys to the Cantwell boys basketball team earning a spot in the open division last season, and they were rewarded for that success Wednesday, each signing Division I scholarship letters.
Dragovic signed with Harvard, with Rakocevi inking with Oregon State.
Here is the video of their signing day:

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So who is player, coach of the year?

erancho

Well, we are down to two remaining football teams in the Whittier area, so it’s probably the right time to ask: Who is the Coach of the Year, and who is the Player of the Year?

Here’s a list of candidates
COACH OF THE YEAR
Margarito Beltran, La Serna –
The Lancers are one of two football team still playing. Yes, they finished second to El Rancho in the Del Rio League, but isn’t playoff success the final judge?
Mike Moschetti, La Mirada – The Matadores had a remarkable turnaround, going from 4-7 the previous season to 9-2 and Suburban League champs. They also beat a decent Tesoro team earlier in the year.
Vinnie Lopez, El Rancho – Lopez has changed the culture at The Ranch. This year, he unseated La Serna’s reign in the Del Rio League. Yes, the Dons lost in the first round, but winning a league title is a good first step for this program.
Kim Taylor, Cantwell Sacred Heart – The Cardinals also enjoyed a solid turnaround and shared the South Catholic League title.
Pete Gonzalez, Montebello – While Moschetti and Taylor enjoyed turnarounds from season to season, Gonzalez was able to do it within season. The Oilers, with a tough schedule, started equally slow, but have rebounded to win the Almont League and are in the Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Andrew Perea, El Rancho –
Accounted for 2,671 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading the Dons to the Del Rio League title.
Christian Lara, La Mirada – The Santa Fe transfer threw for nearly 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in helping the Mats to the Suburban League title
Tony Brown, La Mirada – Had 38 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 scores.
Eric Barriere, La Habra – Ranked among the leaders in several offensive categories in helping the Highlanders to the Freeway League title.
Jacob Maier, St. Paul – Accounted for 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jean-Luc Dauphiney, Cantwell – Rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and seven TDs in leading the Cardinals to a share of the South Catholic League.

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Girls Volleyball: St. Paul loses in four games to La Reina in 4AA semifinals


By Stephen Ramirez
THOUSAND OAKS >> La Reina High School won its only CIF-Southern Section girls volleyball title in 2000.
The Regents will get a chance on Saturday to add to that.
Carolena Huseby had 17 kills to lead La Reina to a 25-22, 28-26, 25-27, 25-21 victory over visiting St. Paul in a Division 4AA semifinal match on Tuesday.
Alexandra Polk also had nine kills for the Regents, who improved to 29-8 and will face Alta Loma in the finals, either Friday or Saturday at either Cerritos College or Fullerton College. The site, venue and time will be announced by the CIF office on Wednesday.
Riley Kelly had 17 kills for the Swordsmen, who slipped to 30-7. St. Paul is still eligible for an at-large selection to the state playoffs. Those brackets will be announced on Sunday.

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Cantwell’s Serena Meehan signs with Fairleigh Dickinson

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School softball player Serena Meehan poses with teammates after signing her scholarship letter to Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey Nov. 17, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School softball player Serena Meehan poses with teammates after signing her scholarship letter to Farleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey Nov. 17, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)


By Stephen Ramirez

MONTEBELLO >>It’s the goal of nearly every high school athlete to develop their talent enough to earn a collegiate Division I scholarship.
Cantwell Sacred Heart softball player Serena Meehan’s day in the sun came Monday.
The senior shortstop, who played key part in the Cardinals advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 championship game last season, signed with Fairleigh Dickinson, a Northeast Conference school in Teaneck, NJ.
“It’s nice,” Meehan said. “I’ve worked for it for so long. I feel accomplished. I’m a little nervous right now, but I’m happy with what I’ve done.”

Meehan was second team All-Whittier Daily News last season after helping the Cardinals go 21-8, win the Camino Real League title and advance to the Division 6 title game, losing to St. Bonaventure.
She hit .431, which ranked third on the team, and had nine RBIs and scored 28 runs. She also had seven extra-base hits and was 2-0 in a limited role in the circle.
Meehan will join a Fairleigh Dickinson team that was 21-21 overall and tied for second in the Northeast Conference last season. The Knights went 0-2 in the conference tournament to end their season.
“I like the environment of the school,” Meehan said. “It’s outside of New York, a nice campus. The team is good, so that’s why I picked them.”
And will it be hard to play so far away from home?
“Eventually it will,” Meehan said. “But I need to grow up, so I want to go there.”
Meehan, who also plays soccer, is one of nine returning players to the softball team, which should still make the Cardinals a force in the Camino Real League and Division 6.
“I’m pretty confident about it,” Meehan said.

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Area’s three remaining girls volleyball teams look to advance to CIF-SS finals

St. Paul High's Riley Kelly (#13), right, puts one past St. Anthony High earlier this season. The Swordsmen play La Reina Tuesday for a spot in the CIF-SS Finals. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)

St. Paul High’s Riley Kelly (#13), right, puts one past St. Anthony High earlier this season. The Swordsmen play La Reina Tuesday for a spot in the CIF-SS Finals. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)


By Stephen Ramirez
St. Paul High School began the season as one of the top girls volleyball teams in the area, and the Swordsmen have lived up that billing and the pressure of being the No. 3 seed in the 4AA Division playoffs.
Now, they’ll look to add to it when they travel to No. 2 La Reina for a CIF-Southern Section semifinal match at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

St. Paul (30-6), which won the Camino Real League, have hardly been touched in the playoffs, needing just 10 sets in three victories to advance to the division final four. The Swordsmen should get a tougher challenge on Tuesday.
La Reina (28-8), which won the Tri-Valley League, also has needed just 10 sets to get to the semifinals. The Regents feature a lineup with three players with 200 kills or more, led by outside hitter Whitney Hunter, who has 230. La Reina also looks to Carolena Huseby, who has 209 kills, and Izzy Simqu, who has 200.
St. Paul, which advanced with a four-set win over Pacifica Christian, counters with Riley Kelly, who has 356, and Cheyanne Little, who has 255. Hannah Tostado has 204.
The winner faces the winner of Garden Grove-Alta Loma in the finals, either Friday or Saturday. The site, day and time will be announced on Wednesday.
2A
PALM SPRINGS AT ARCADIA, 7 P.M.

This is a battle of the upset kings, featuring the host Apaches, who beat No. 4 seed Viewpoint in four games in the quarterfinals, and the Indians, who knocked off top seed Louisville.
Arcadia (21-5), which went undefeated in winning the Pacific League, is led by Hannah Kennedy, who had 18 kills in the win over Viewpoint, and Lexi Resch, who had 17.
Palm Springs (24-5), which won Desert Valley League, counters with Asia O’Nell, who has 233 kills, and Michaela Hissam, who has 201.
The winner advances to face Troy or Windward in the finals.
4A
DESERT AT DUARTE, 7 P.M.

The No. 2 Falcons (25-8) are led by Kathy McKiernan, who has 183 kills, and Daisy Portillo, who has 145. Duarte advanced with a five-set win over Anaheim.
Desert (22-1) advanced with a sweep of Savanna.
The winner faces either Summit or Cate in the finals.

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Saturday Rewind: La Mirada’s playoff woes continue; La Serna, Montebello advance; La Habra, El Rancho, California, Cantwell ousted

Anthony Garcia of La Serna is on his way to his first score of the first half against the visiting Dominguez Dons of Compton. The CIF Southern Section opener took place Friday night November 14, 2014 at La Serna.(Correspondent photo by Chris Burt/Sports)

Anthony Garcia of La Serna is on his way to his first score of the first half against the visiting Dominguez Dons of Compton. The CIF Southern Section opener took place Friday night November 14, 2014 at La Serna.(Correspondent photo by Chris Burt/Sports)

La Mirada’s dream season came crashing down Friday, losing to Salesian, which wasn’t your average at-large entrant. The Mats weren’t the only area teams to see their season’s end. El Rancho, after winning its first league title since the late 1990s, lost to Burbank; California to Downey, La Habra to Capistrano Valley and Cantwell Sacred Heart to Arrowhead Christian. But look who is still standing? La Serna, which beat Dominguez, and Montbello, which held off La Puente.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
LA SERNA 24, DOMINGUEZ 21

WHITTIER >> La Serna, the defending CIF Southeast Division champion, held off a hard-nosed Dominguez team to win 24-21 and earn a spot in next week’s quarterfinals.
Lancers’ junior safety Jonathan Ceballos intercepted Ronald Smith’s pass in the end zone with 24 seconds remaining in the game to preserve the win for La Serna.
“Dominguez battled in the second half,” said La Serna head coach Margarito Beltran. “But we made the play when it counted. At this point it doesn’t matter how you get the victory. A victory is a victory and we are just happy to advance.”
The Dominguez rushing game was effective, gaining 291 yards on 46 carries.
However, on the final drive, needing to go 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown, the lack of a passing game affected the Dons’ ability manage the clock. Dominguez (7-4) only attempted five passes in the game.

– Richard Hernandez
SALESIAN 24, LA MIRADA 18
LA MIRADA >> For the second year in a row, La Mirada High School made a quick exit from the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
This season, however, the loss was much more was unexpected as the Matadores, the Suburban League champion, fell to Salesian, an at-large team from the Angelus League, 24-18, in a Southeast Division first-round game Friday night at La Mirada.
La Mirada finishes the season with a 9-2 record, while Salesian (5-6) will play Burbank in a second-round game.
La Mirada senior quarterback Christian Lara (14 for 20, 140 yards), who threw for 28 touchdowns this season, was shut out of the end zone as junior running back Sei-J Lauago ran for a game-high 97 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Matadores senior wide receiver Tony Brown had a game-high six receptions for 46 yards.

– John Sherrard
ROUNDUP
CAPISTRANO VALLEY 44, LA HABRA 42

Capistrano Valley High School rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to defeat host La Habra, 44-42, in a CIF-Southern Section Southwest Conference first-round playoff game on Friday night.
MONTEBELLO 24, LA PUENTE 17
Cornerback Charlie Zuniga picked up a fumble and dashed 37 yards to the end zone to break a 17-17 tie with 6:13 to play and lead the Almont League champions in the Mid-Valley Division first-round game.
FRIDAY’S SCORES
SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Salesian 24, La Mirada 18
La Serna 24, Dominguez 21
Downey 51, California 20
Burbank 38, El Rancho 34
SOUTHWEST DIVISION
Capistrano Valley 44, La Habra 42
MID-VALLEY DIVISION
Montebello 24, La Puente 17
NORTHWEST DIVISION
Arrowhead Chr. 48, Cantwell 19
QUARTERFINALS SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, NOV. 21
SOUTHEAST DIVISION

St. Francis (11-0) vs. La Serna (9-2) at Cal HS, 7:30 p.m.
MID-VALLEY DIVISION
Northview (10-1) at Montebello (7-4)

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Northwest Predictions: Maranatha looks like the one

Can Steve Bogan win his fifth CIF title, leading  Maranatha?

Can Steve Bogan win his fifth CIF title, leading Maranatha?

Trying to predict the future is never easy, but that is what makes the playoffs fun, right?
So, here are my picks for the CIF-SS divisions that feature local teams. Here is a look at the Northwest Division

NORTHWEST DIVISION
Seeds: 1. Maranatha (10-0), 2. Pasadena Poly (10-0), 3. Shadow Hills (8-2), 4. Big Bear (8-2)
Local: Cantwell- Sacred Heart (8-2)
First Round
Maranatha
Cantwell
Templeton
Rio Hondo Prep
Shadow Hills
Nipomo
Linfield Chr.
Morro Bay
Quarterfinals
Maranatha
Templeton
Nipomo
Morro Bay
Semifinals
Maranatha
Nipomo
Finals
Maranatha
Notes: Maranatha has been on fire all season, and there’s no reason to jump off the Minutemen ship now. They have their version of the triplets, and its worked so far. That said, they face a tough matchup in the first round, first playoff-tough Mission Prep, but I stick with the 10-0 team. Cantwell looks to have a good draw in round one, and although the Cards can score with anyone, I’m not sure they can keep it up vs. Maranatha. Also, be weary of those Northern League teams, but in the end, i like the Minutemen.

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Mid-Valley Predictions: A return to the top for Paraclete

Can Montebello make a dent? (San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger

Can Montebello make a dent?
(San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger

Trying to predict the future is never easy, but that is what makes the playoffs fun, right?
So, here are my picks for the CIF-SS divisions that feature local teams. Here is a look at the Mid-Valley Division

MID-VALLEY DIVISION
Seeds: 1. Paraclete (7-3), 2. Sierra Canyon (9-1), 3. Pomona (6-4), 4. Northview (8-2)
Local: Montebello (6-4*)
*-includes forfeit win over Arroyo
First Round
Paraclete
Azusa
Montebello
Northview
Pomona
San Dimas
Rosemead
Sierra Canyon
Quarterfinals
Paraclete
Northview
Pomona
Sierra Canyon
Semifinals
Paraclete
Pomona
Finals
Paraclete
Notes: Paraclete has been solid in this division, with one title and advancing to the finals last season. The Spirits have the horses to make the next step this season, although a Northview-Paraclete semifinal would be classic. Montebello might find the bracket just as difficult as its nonleague slate, but I like Oilers int he first round. Pomona seems to have too much athleticism for the bottom of the bracket. But I wonder if Pomona makes the final and the title game is at Antelope Valley College, would PUSD allow them to make the trip?

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