All-Area Boys Basketball: St. Paul’s Louis Bangai is 2017 WDN Player of the Year

Louis Bangai from St. Paul High School was selected as the Whittier Daily News All Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Monday April 10, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)


By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

Louis Bangai, St. Paul, Center, Senior

At 6-foot-11 inches tall, St. Paul High School’s Louis Bangai provides a tough match up for the opposition.
But the senior knew if his goal to win a CIF Southern Section championship was to be accomplished, he couldn’t just rely on his natural gifts.
He had to get better.
He did, and the Swordsmen benefited. They came up short in their quest to win the school’s second CIF-SS crown, but led by Bangai, St. Paul advanced to the Division 3A title game, losing to Twentynine Palms in overtime.
For his efforts, Bangai is the Whittier Daily News boys basketball Player of the Year.

“I just knew I had to get better,” Bangai said. “It was very different from last year. Last year, I couldn’t shoot the ball from distance, like (making) a 3-point shot. But this year it was easy. But I worked on it a lot.
“I’m just (tried) to get better. I (wanted) to play with the (mind set) of being a winner.”
It showed up on the court, where Bangai was difference maker for the Swordsmen in the playoffs. The senior, after leading St. Paul to its second consecutive league title for the first time in school history with a Santa Fe League crown, averaged 25 points in the Division 3A playoffs to get his team to the school’s first trip to a CIF-SS final in 16 seasons,
His effort did not go unnoticed.
“He got better by ten-fold,” St. Paul second-year coach Damaine Powell said. “(Success in) sports is 90-percent confidence, and once his confidence got up — and he’s always been a hard worker — he was able to take what he worked on in practice right to the game.
“He just took off from there. Being 6-11, definitely helps. He was going to have an advantage every night. But it was nice to see his maturation.”
Bangai, who was Santa Fe League MVP, showed that fearlessness on the court in the postseason. He scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds in the Swordmen’s playoff opener vs. Eastside (62-44) before scoring 32 and 22 points in wins over Lompoc Cabrillo (61-60) and San Bernardino (56-52), respectively, in the quarterfinals and semifinals. He had 26 points and 16 rebounds in a 70-68 loss in overtime to Twentynine Palms in the final.
“It was a good season,” said Bangai, who has received an offer from UNLV. “We didn’t win the (title), but we learned a lot. We got to the final, which we couldn’t do last year. We didn’t win, but everyone (on the team) learned a lot. We learned how to play, compete, and we were proud of ourselves as a team.”
He didn’t’ go unrewarded.
Bangai earned co-Player of the Year for Division 3A, which is a rarity for a player who is not on the championship team, and now he’s area player of the year. He cherishes both accomplishments.
“It means a lot,” said Bangai, who along with fellow senior Kylan Mann and junior Nate Kasongo formed St. Paul’s terrific trio. “This shows how hard work pays off. I’ve been working hard just waiting for the result; (this is) the result for me.
“I worked real hard to improve my game. I wasn’t surprised to get co-player of the year (in the division) and player of the year in the area. I was proud of myself, and it (motivates) me to keep working hard.”
Damaine Powell, St. Paul

There was a time when the St. Paul boys basketball team was considered the No. 2 basketball program on the Santa Fe Springs campus. But no more. Damaine Powell changed all that. He’s changed the culture at St. Paul, transforming the Swordsmen from an afterthought to one of the top programs in the area. In two years under Powell’s leadership, St. Paul has gone 44-13, winning back-to-back league titles for the first time in school history with two Santa Fe League crowns. This season was special. St. Paul went 24-7 and advanced to the CIF-SS finals for the first time since 2001.
“We just took it one game at a time and before you knew it, we just felt every game we played we could win,” Powell said. “We just took it one game at a time and tried to maximise what we had.”
Powell previously coached at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Compton College.
Guard: Kylan Mann, St. Paul, Sr.

Mann was a key part in St. Paul’s run to a second consecutive Santa Fe League title and it’s first appearance in a CIF-SS final since 2001. He averaged nearly 20 points a game during the playoff run and was first team All-Santa Fe League and All-CIF-SS Division 3A. He had 19 points in the title game loss to Twentynine Palms.
Guard: Nate Kasongo, St. Paul, Jr.
Kasongo was part of St. Paul’s three-pronged attack that keyed the Swordsmen’s run to a second consecutive league title — a first in program history — and their first trip to the CIF-SS finals in 16 seasons. He averaged 15 points in five playoff games and first team All-Santa Fe League.
Guard: Dawit Wilson, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary, Sr.
Wilson came up big down the stretch to help the Cardinals to the CIF-SS Division IAA semifinals. He averaged 11 points per game for the season and scored about 20 a game in playoff wins over La Mirada, Temecula Valley and Santa Monica. He had 29 against Temecula Valley in the second round.
Guard: Walter Franco, La Serna, Sr.
Franco was part of the Lancers’ one-two tandem, along with forward Cedric Sobers, that keyed La Serna to one of its better seasons in program history. The Lancers won their first Del Rio League crown since 2011 and made a rare trip to the CIF-SS quarterfinals. Franco helped the cause by averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He also averaged 3.8 assists and 2.4 steals a contest. Franco was first team All-Del Rio League.
Guard: Khieem Williams, Pioneer, Sr.
Pioneer advanced to the postseason for the second time in three seasons, and Williams played a big part in that success. He proved a challenge both inside and outside and averaged more than 10 points a game to lead the Titans to a 19-9 record and a first-round appearance. Williams was first team All-Del Rio League.
Guard: Jaedyn Bonilla, Schurr, Sr.
Bonilla, a transfer from Cantwell-Sacred Heart, was the missing ingredient to put Schurr over the top. The senior helped the Spartans achieve one of their better seasons, which included a share of the Almont League crown and advancing to the CIF-SS Division 3AA quarterfinals. Bonilla averaged double-digit scoring and co-MVP of the Almont League. He was also first team All-CIF-SS Division 3AA.
Forward: Cedric Sobers, La Serna, Jr.
Sobers, who is on the first team for the second consecutive season, keyed the Lancers to one of their better seasons in history. He averaged 17 points a game to help La Serna win the Del Rio League for the first time in six seasons and advance to the CIF-SS Division 3AA quarterfinals. Sobers was Del Rio League MVP and first-team All-CIF-SS Division 3AA.
Forward: Shemar Morrow, La Mirada, Fr.
If there was a newcomer of the year for basketball, Morrow would get it. The freshman had that big of an impact on the Matadores, traditionally one of the top programs in the area. Morrow put up 17 points per game to help the Matadores finish second in the Suburban League and a spot in the CIF-SS playoffs. He was All-Suburban League.
Forward: Matt Corona, Santa Fe, Sr.
Corona was a key facture in the Chiefs run to the CIF-SS Division 3AA quarterfinals. The senior averaged 21 points per game, including a best 18.3 in Del Rio League contests. He had three games of 36 points or more. Corona also earned three all-tournament selections. He was first team All-Del Rio League.
Forward: Andre Fields, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary, Jr.
Fields was part of the Cardinals three-pronged attack that also featured senior Dawit Wilson and sophomore Avery Martinez. He averaged double-digit scoring, including scoring a game-high 16 points in a victory over region rival La Mirada in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs. CSHM advanced to the Division IAA semifinals.
Guard: Alfredo Reyes, St. Paul, Sr.
Guard: Kevin Marlow, Sonora, Sr.
Guard: Nick Colosi, La Mirada, Jr.
Guard: Sean Murphy, Sonora, Sr.
Forward: Avery Martinez, Cantwell, So.
Forward: Austin Carter, Sonora, Sr.
Forward: Daniel Cabrera, La Mirada, Jr.
Forward: Ryan Veljacic, Schurr, Sr.
Forward: Justin Osborn, Whittier Christian, Sr.
Center: Donald Risper, Santa Fe, Sr.
1. St. Paul (24-7)
2. Cantwell-Sacred Heart (15-15)
3. La Serna (26-3)
4. La Mirada (22-6)
5. Sonora (25-4)
6. Schurr (22-8)
7. Santa Fe (19-10)
8. Whittier Christian (17-8)
9. Pioneer (19-9)
10. Whittier (16-12)
Almont: Schurr, San Gabriel
Del Rey: Bishop Montgomery
Del Rio: La Serna
Freeway: Sonora
Olympic: Maranatha, Heritage Christian
Santa Fe: St. Paul
Suburban: Mayfair

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Baseball: Cal routs rival La Serna to stay tied for first in Del Rio; Santa Fe also in first after beating Pioneer

California players congratulate Christian Diaz (8) after scoring in their Del Rio League game at La Serna High School in Whittier on Wednesday April 5, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

When California High School coach Tony Nieto protested a call made by the home plate umpire in the top of the sixth inning, it fired his team up.Nieto was upset because La Serna coach Anthony Gonzales had crossed the basepath line in an attempt to meet with his pitcher, Abraham Carrillo. However, Gonzales had already used his maximum of three mound visits and was not going out there to bring in someone in relief.Although Nieto didn’t get the call he wanted, his team got the last laugh as the visiting Condors scored a whopping 10 runs in the seventh inning in a 14-4 victory over rival La Serna in a Del Rio League game on Wednesday afternoon.
California (10-4, 3-1) overcame two two-run deficits before opening the game up in the seventh inning. Condor starting pitcher Mike Gutierrez gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning to give La Serna an early advantage. Gutierrez surrendered another pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
However, each time the Lancers went on top, the Condors answered back with a pair of runs in the ensuing innings.
After La Serna took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, California loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning to put the pressure back on Lancer starting pitcher Andrew Arguello.
Gilly Rodriguez’ sacrifice fly knocked in the Condors’ third run of the game and a hit batter and walk later, the score was once again tied up.
Senior right-hander Carrillo helped the Lancers escape a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, but in the seventh things didn’t go in his team’s favor.
Rodriguez led off with a single and was 90 feet away from scoring the go-ahead run after he stole second and took third base on a wild pitch. Senior Michael Saldana drove in Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly to right-center field.
After Saldana’s RBI, the Condors loaded the bags once again, thanks to a pair of walks and a fielding error by sophomore Vicente Garcia. A squeeze bunt, walk and hit-batter later, La Serna found itself down 8-4.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get worst, freshman Jacob Sharp drove the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a grand slam.
Nieto said that even though the Condors went up by four, they never want to let up.
On Wednesday, La Serna (8-11-1, 2-2) had the weaker bullpen. The Lancers used four different pitchers in the disastrous 10-run inning. Nevertheless, Gonzales didn’t want to pin the loss on his bullpen.
Gutierrez (3-1) pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out four and picked up the victory. Carrillo (2-4).
Cal coach Tony Nieto: “We always want to keep the foot on the gas pedal whenever we have the opportunity because we know at anytime they can hit their way back. We play in a very competitive league, but I think the key with this new pitching restrictions and rules, it’s going to be having a key bullpen.”
La Serna coach Anthony Gonzales: “We play as a team; we don’t look at any individual spots like that. We look at the whole team. We played a great six innings and we were three outs away, but we didn’t finish it. It’s still early in the season, but we have to go back to work on Friday and finish the first-round at hopefully 3-2. If we do that then we’re sitting right where we want to be.”
Cal’s Gilly Rodriguez: “Throughout the game, our coach kept reminding us to never give up and when the fifth and sixth innings came up those are the championship innings. He just reminded us that if you want to be a championship team you have to grind out those innings and stay on top.”
— Will Hernandez

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 20, St. Monica 0
Santa Fe 13, Pioneer 0
Whittier 9, El Rancho 2
Troy 5, Sonora 4
Fullerton 5, La Habra 3
Cal 3-1
Santa Fe 3-1
Whittier 2-2
El Rancho 2-2
La Serna 2-2
Pioneer 0-4

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Baseball: Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary ends losing skein with win over Mary Star

Cantwell’s Jared Thomas (36) is congratulated after hitting a lead off home run in the first inning as they play Mary Star in their league game at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello on Wednesday March 29, 2017. Cantwell defeated Mary Star 5-0. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/SCNG)

By Stephen Ramirez
Losses have become so rare for the Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School baseball team in recent seasons that most associated with the program can’t remember the last time it suffered three-consecutive setbacks.The Cardinals are still wondering after making sure Wednesday they wouldn’t experience an unwanted three-peat.Jared Thomas hit a leadoff home run and Mark Saavedra threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings to help CSHM end a two-game losing skein with a 5-0 victory over visiting Mary Star of the Sea in a Camino Real League game.Ruben Rios had two RBIs and Johnny Rodriguez and Zach Thomas had two hits each for the Cardinals (9-3, 3-0), who had lost consecutive nonleague games to Warren and Bonita.

“It was very big to get back on the winning track,” CSHM coach Rudy Garcia said. “We lost two and you never want to lose three in a row. This was a league game, so it made it even bigger. I was confident in the boys. It’s a good win for us.”
Jared Thomas, who was hitting .400 entering the game, gave CSHM the early lead when he hit Hunter Bjazevich’s first pitch over the right-field fence for a 1-0 advantage.
The Cardinals made it 2-0 in the inning following singles by Zach Thomas and Rios.
“I knew they were going to give me something to hit,” Jared Thomas said. “I just got on time and it went out.”
Zach Thomas led off the third with a double and scored on a squeeze bunt by Rios for 3-0 lead.
Saavedra took care of the rest.
The sophomore limited Mary Star (7-3, 1-2) to three hits and struck out five in his five-plus innings. He ran into some trouble in the fourth, but pitched his way out of it.
Carlos Vega led off with a single and Mo Magno was hit by a pitch. Both then stole third and second, respectively. But Saavedra induced Joe James to fly out to short right field before he sandwiched a walk to Nathan Trudnich with strikeouts of Kazenoshin Hayashi and Kevin Costa.
“(The mindset) was just to throw strikes,” Saavedra said. “I knew my defense had my back. They were making plays all game long, so I just had to throw strikes.”
CSHM scored a run in the fifth and sixth innings for a 5-0 advantage. Daniel Ordonez got the final four outs, including two strikeouts, to seal the win.
“In my two years here, we had never lost two games in row,” Jared Thomas said. “We’re not used to losing over here, so it was important to get back on track, play our game. We weren’t stressing. We knew we were going to be fine, and we played one of our better games.”

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NOTEBOOK: Whittier Christian athletes make college choices

Carl Hudson, left, signs his letter of intent to play baseball at San Diego Christian University and Ben White signs a letter of intent to attend Whittier College for Track and Cross Country during a celebration at Whittier Christian High School in La Habra on Tuesday March 28, 2017. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News/SCNG)

By Stephen Ramirez
Whittier Christian High School athletes Carl Hudson and Ben White made their college decisions Tuesday, each signing letter of intents in a ceremony at the La Habra school.
Hudson will play baseball at NAIA San Diego Christian and White will run cross country for Whittier College.
Hudson plays three positions for the Heralds, helping them to a 9-7 record this season. He has seen time at catcher, first base and in the outfield.
San Diego Christian (12-14, 7-11) competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
White was one of the top runners in the area last season, placing 30th in Division 5 at the CIF State championships in Fresno. He had a time of 16 minutes, 41.2 seconds. He was 13th at 15:50 at the CIF Southern Section finals.
Whittier College competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Alyssa Martin Del Campo and Cierra Amarillas-Salazar, key members of the Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary softball team made their college choices Wednesday, each signing with Benedictine University of Mesa, Arizona in a ceremony at the Montebello school.
CSHM is 5-6 this season.
Pioneer will host its alumni baseball game at 11 on Saturday.
Former Titan players are asked to call coach Bobby Ramirez at (951) 751-0080.
La Mirada, which was 9-2 heading into a Suburban League game at Artesia on Wednesday, is the lone area team in this week’s CIF-SS baseball rankings. The Matadores, who will compete in next month’s Boras Classic in Orange County, are No. 3 in Division 2.
La Habra, after losing to Valencia, dropped to No. 7 in the Division 1 softball rankings. Other area teams ranked are La Mirada and California, who are Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, in Division 3, and Schurr, which is No. 3 in Division 6.
Whittier Christian is No. 8 in Division 4 in boys volleyball.

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Thursday Recap: Freshman Jaden Hernandez had a game-winning RBI for Whittier Christian softball

If you have any scores or stats from any local high school sporting events call them into the desk at 626-544-0992 or 0991 or scores@SGVN

Whittier Christian 2, Maranatha 1 — Freshman Jaden Hernandez had a game-winning RBI for the Heralds (8-6), who won their Olympic League opener. Ally Udell was the winning pitcher, striking out seven and had a double and an RBI. The Minutemen (9-1) lost their first game of the season.

Boys volleyball
Valley Christian 3, Whittier Christian 0 — Cade McGee had 12 kills and 14 digs and Justin Osborn had eight kills and 11 blocks for the Heralds (10-6, 2-1) in a 25-14, 25-20, 27-25 Olympic League loss.

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