About Steve Ramirez

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

Rivalry Friday: La Serna boys basketball, Sonora girls basketball win in routs

La Serna's Cedric Sobers (34) drives to make a shot as they play California in their Del Rio League boys basketball game at La Serna High School in Whittier on Friday January 13, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

La Serna’s Cedric Sobers (34) drives to make a shot as they play California in their Del Rio League boys basketball game at La Serna High School in Whittier on Friday January 13, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

WHITTIER — The tide has definitely turned in the La Serna and California high school boys basketball rivalry these days.
The latest battle between the schools turned out to be all La Serna on Friday night as the Lancers defeated the visiting Condors 58-31 in a Del Rio League game.
The Lancers, who haven’t won a DRL title since the 2010-11 season, were led by junior guard Cedric Sobers and transfer Nick Martinez with 10 points each.
La Serna (15-2, 2-0) has steadily improved over the last four years and is off to its best start in a while.
This was the biggest game, minutes-wise for the sophomore Martinez, who transferred from Cantwell Sacred Heart this season.
Leading the way for California (8-9, 0-2) was senior Mark Maldonado with 10 points.
The first quarter started slowly for both teams, but the Lancers, behind a 3-pointer by Sobers, led 6-0. The Condors finally scored midway through the quarter and trailed 6-2.
However, La Serna woke up with authority and went on an 8-0 run to end the quarter for a 14-2 lead.
The Lancers’ hot streak continued into the second quarter as they continued the run, outscoring Cal High 22-11, behind six points from senior Walter (11 points) Franco and five from senior forward Steven Maldonado.
They led at the half 36-13 with Franco leading the way with nine points. Also in the half, 6-foot-6 center Martinez scored six points and he continued into the third quarter with another four for his biggest output as a Lancer.
La Serna’s Nick Martinez: “It felt really good that I could help the team get a win. I’m glad coach had confidence in me to play in crucial minutes. I remember watching coach (Marino) Angulo coach his first Cal-La Serna game and saw how crazy and how many people were at the game.”
— John Sherrard
Almont League

Schurr 71, Bell Gardens 67
Keppel 44, Montebello 42
Del Rio League
Pioneer 67, El Rancho 35
Santa Fe 53, Whittier 50
Freeway League
La Habra 64, Sonora 63
Santa Fe League
St. Paul 62, Mary Star 55
Suburban League
La Mirada 55, Norwalk 47


LA HABRA — Sonora High School continues to own the City of La Habra when it comes to girls basketball.
Meghann Henderson scored 27 points and Lainie James had 24 and the Raiders beat rival La Habra for the fifth consecutive time Friday with a 60-29 victory in a Freeway League game at La Habra High.
Henderson also had eight rebounds for Sonora (12-5, 2-0). Samantha Esquivel had 12 points off the bench and Hannah McArthur had eight points and 15 rebounds for La Habra (11-6, 0-2).
“It’s been (a few years since La Habra won). It’s just kind of tough staying intense throughout the game.”
The Highlanders, who last beat Sonora in 2014 when they swept the Raiders, got off to a quick start before Sonora settled in with three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Raiders, after falling behind 8-6 on two 3-pointers by Emma Zener (six points), closed the period with a 6-2 surge to lead 12-10 before outscoring the Highlanders 19-2 in second quarter to lead 31-12 at halftime.
Sonora’s suffocating full-court trap pressured La Habra into 15 turnovers during the first two quarters, keying the 19-2 blitz in the second.
The Highlanders, who didn’t shoot a free throw, had 24 turnovers and made just 12 of 42 shots.
Sonora’s Meghann Henderson: “(Coach Melissa Barajas) definitely got on us (after the start). She made us realize that we just can’t sleep on everyone. She reminded us you have to come out with the same intensity every game. Then we got control of the game.”
— Stephen Ramirez
ALHAMBRA — So much for the Keppel High School girls basketball team being vulnerable in the Almont League this season.
Despite heavy graduation losses and injuries to two key starters, the Aztecs blasted visiting Montebello 57-8 on Friday night in a game that, on paper, figured to be a lot closer than it actually was.
Keppel improved to 14-3 overall and 2-0 in league. Montebello looked like one of several teams in the league possibly capable of knocking the Aztecs from their perch. The Oiler fell to 11-6 overall and 1-1 in league.
As the final score suggests, this one was over quickly. The Aztecs applied their patented pressure defense and Montebello just couldn’t handle it. If the Oilers broke the press, then the turnover came in the halfcourt.
Meanwhile, Keppel was hot from the start and scored the first 37 points of the game. Katie Kuang and Sally Smith did the damage from outside while Jocelyn Song was a force around the basket.
Keppel coach Jose Herrera: “A lot of the girls have picked it up. And credit to them. We could have easily tanked the season and gone in a different direction, not the Keppel tradition. But girls stepped up. It was now their opportunity and they seized the moment.”
— Aram Tolegian
Del Rio League
El Rancho 57, Pioneer 28
Whittier 43, Santa Fe 33
Cal 62, La Serna 54

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Boys Basketball: Round One goes to La Serna; Lancers beat Whittier in Del Rio League opener

La Serna's Daniel Canales (21) and Cedric Sobers (34) celebrate their win against Whittier at La Serna High School in Whittier on Wednesday January 11, 2017. La Serna defeated Whittier 54-43. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

La Serna’s Daniel Canales (21) and Cedric Sobers (34) celebrate their win against Whittier at La Serna High School in Whittier on Wednesday January 11, 2017. La Serna defeated Whittier 54-43. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

WHITTIER — If the opening game of the Del Rio League boys basketball season between La Serna and Whittier high schools is any indication of things to come, then it’s going to be exciting.
The last time Whittier was in the La Serna gym, the Cardinals were celebrating a league championship and the Lancers weren’t about to let them win two straight games.
Junior forward Cedric Sobers made sure of that with a game-high 25 points and led the Lancers to a hard-fought, 54-43, victory.
Senior guard Walter Franco had 15 points for the Lancers (15-2, 1-0). He had nine in the third quarter.
Alex Rodriguez, who had three 3-pointers, had 21 points for the Cardinals (11-6, 0-1).
The first quarter was low scoring as the Lancers held a 9-4 lead, with both teams missing on numerous shots.
The Lancers started the second quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 17-4 lead. Whittier played the Lancers even, 7-7, the rest of the way. Rodriquez hit a long-range shot at the buzzer to trail, 24-11.
Sobers led all scorers with 17 in the opening half, 12 of which came in the second quarter.
The third quarter saw the Cardinals climb to within eight points at 38-30.
Rodriguez picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter, but didn’t affect his play.
Whittier climbed to within seven points, 46-39, with 3:21 left in the game but were outscored, 8-4, the rest of the way.
La Serna coach Marino Angulo: “The Del Rio League is extremely competitive and I think there are three or four teams that can compete. As for Cedric he played great and defended well.”
La Serna’s Cedric Sobers: “There was a lot of nerves in the first quarter, but we didn’t want to fall to them, of all teams. This is one of our best starts and we haven’t won a championship here in a while, but there is a lot more games to be played.”
Whittier’s Alex Rodriguez: “I felt like my teammates helped me with my defense in the fourth quarter and I didn’t have to play ultra-aggressive.”
— John Sherrard
Del Rey League

Bishop Montgomery 74, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 39
Del Rio League
Pioneer 81, Cal 75
Santa Fe 74, El Rancho 35
Santa Fe League
St. Paul 56, Bosco Tech 32
Suburban League
La Mirada 79, Artesia 44

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Girls Basketball: Cal scores late to beat Pioneer in Del Rio League opener

WHITTIER — California and Pioneer high schools were both looking to follow up a successful December with a win in their Del Rio League girls basketball opener, as each hope to challenge league stalwart El Rancho.The Condors took a leg up on the Titans on Wednesday.
Valerie Vazquez scored 18 points off the bench and hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to lead California to a 56-51 victory over host Pioneer.
Nicole Robles, who was 3 of 8 from 3-point range, had 13 points, and Farah Waked, who was 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, had 12 points for the Condors, who improved to 12-3.
Marissa Mora had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Raylene Cosio had 18 points for the Titans, who slipped to 13-6.
Cal, after closing the second quarter with a 14-2 run for a 36-24 lead at halftime, seemed to have it sewn up after beginning the third quarter with a 10-4 surge to go up 46-28 with four minutes remaining.
But then the Titans caught fire. They closed the quarter with a 10-0 surge to cut the deficit to 46-38 before scoring the first nine points of the fourth quarter for a 47-46 lead on a Bianca Caro scoop shot with 4:15 left.
Cal then woke up, regaining the lead at 49-47 on Vazquez 3-pointer at 4:06. Mora made two three throws to tie it a 49 before Cal regained the advantage for good in the final minute.
Vazquez hit her second 3-pointer for a 54-51 lead with 31 seconds left before Paris Rivera converted a turnover into a layup to push it to 56-51 with 19 seconds left.
Cal’s Valerie Vazquez: “It was really tough. But I’m proud of my team for how we finished and being able to pull off a win. We’ve worked really well together this year, working as a team. That’s been the difference this year.”
— Stephen Ramirez
Del Rio League

Whittier 46, La Serna 26
El Rancho 60, Santa Fe 19
Suburban League
La Mirada 56, Artesia 24

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Basketball: La Mirada boys, El Rancho girls lead area rankings

1. La Mirada (13-3)

Wins over Sonora and CSHM say Mats are area’s best
2. Sonora (16-2)
Murphy’s boys could make some noise in CIF-SS
3. Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary (9-6)
Talented unit dealing with inconsistency
4. St. Paul (11-4)
Beating the teams it should
5. La Serna (14-2)
Del Rio League favorite
6. Whittier (11-5)
Advanced to 2 tourney title games in December
7. Schurr (12-4)
Might be area’s most-improved team
8. Whittier Christian (11-4)
Is it ready for rugged Olympic League?
9. Pioneer (10-3)
Could challenge in Del Rio
10. Santa Fe (10-6)
Pushed St. Paul before losing last week

1. El Rancho (13-3)
Win over St. Paul says it all
2. Sonora (9-5)
Better than record indicates
3. St. Paul (10-7)
Is it really ready for D-IAA?
4. Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary (10-5)
Perkins leads the way
5. California (11-3)
Looked strong in December
6. Whittier Christian (12-5)
Off to impressive start
7. La Habra (11-4)
Barometer test vs. Sonora on Friday
8. Montebello (10-5)
Can Oilers challenge Keppel in Almont?
9. Pioneer (13-5)
Are the Titans for real?
10. La Serna (7-8)
Taken step back since strong start

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Soccer: El Rancho boys, La Mirada girls atop of area rankings

El Rancho High's Fernando Vargas (#7), left, vies for control vs. Santa Fe High's Kevin Jimenez (#21) during their game at Smith Park in Pico Rivera, Calif. Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)

El Rancho High’s Fernando Vargas (#7), left, vies for control vs. Santa Fe High’s Kevin Jimenez (#21) during their game at Smith Park in Pico Rivera, Calif. Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)


1. El Rancho (9-1-2)
Del Rio League favorite
2. Santa Fe (7-2-1)
Opens league at El Rancho
3. Sonora (7-4-2)
Off to strong start
4. California (4-4-2)
Starting to develop old ways
5. La Mirada (5-6-1)
Has looked good at times
6. Montebello (4-8-2)
Can Oilers win Almont again?
7. La Serna (2-4-4)
Should be competitive in Del Rio
8. Schurr (2-6-3)
Should fair better during Almont schedule
9. Pioneer (4-5-1)
Don’t overlook the Titans
10. La Habra (3-5-1)
Will be competitive in Freeway

1. La Mirada (4-4-2)

Youth is being served
2. California (4-5-4)
Can Condors unseat La Serna in Del Rio?
3. La Serna (5-7-1)
Still the one to beat in Del Rio
4. Schurr (7-2-1)
Continuing recent successes
5. Pioneer (7-3-2)
Can it challenge for top spot in league play?
6. El Rancho (7-5-1)
Another team to look out for
7. Sonora (6-6-1)
Finding some successes
8. La Habra (5-6-1)
Showing improvement
9. Whittier (5-4-2)
Showing promise
10. Montebello (4-5-4)
Might be second-best in Almont League

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