Mater Dei, Vista, Hesperia pick up Classic at Damien titles

by Frank Burlison

– The Mater Dei High Monarchs turned in a near-impeccable second half Friday night to knock off the host school’s squad, 82-63, in the Gold Division championship game of the first-ever Classic at Damien tournament.

Junior point guard Spencer Freedman was the division’s Most Valuable Player and was joined on the 18-player all-tournament team by three Mater Dei teammates, seniors Justice Sueing and Matt Weyand, and junior Harrison Butler.

Mater Dei point guard Spencer Freedman looks to dish to a teammate Friday night in the Monarchs win over Damien in the Classic at Damien Gold Division Championship.

Mater Dei point guard Spencer Freedman looks to dish to a teammate Friday night in the Monarchs win over Damien in the Classic at Damien Gold Division Championship.

Capturing the two other division championships in the 48-team event were Vista in the Silver (60-52 over Woodland Hills Taft) and Hesperia in the Bronze (38-33 over La Canada).

The host Spartans (which suffered their first loss 15 wins, including bracket victories over Hayward Moreau Catholic, Long Beach Poly and Eastvale Roosevelt) jumped out to a 6-zip advantage via consecutive 3s by senior guard Ezekiel Alley.

But the Monarchs (16-1), after a few early turnovers, were able to pretty much get any shot they wanted either against the Damien zone, or when the Spartans went to their man-to-man and full-court pressure.

Elijah McCullough hit a 3 at the buzzer to get the Spartans to within 36-31 at intermission in front of the capacity crowd watching the programs coached by the two winningest coaches in California history (Gary McKnight of Mater Dei and Mike LeDuc of Damien).

Damien guard Ezekiel Alley shoots over Mater Dei forward Reagan Lundeen Friday night in the Classic at Damien Gold Division Championship game.

Damien guard Ezekiel Alley shoots over Mater Dei forward Reagan Lundeen Friday night in the Classic at Damien Gold Division Championship game.

But the Monarchs scored the first 11 points of the third quarter and eventually hit 10 of 13 shots from the field to take a 55-38 score into the fourth quarter.

Six Monarchs scored in double figures (led by Butler’s 14 points) and a seventh, reserve center Miles Brookins, added eight.

All-tournament choices Alley (21) and Cameron Shelton (18) combined for 39 points for the Spartans.

Junior point guard Taurus Samuels scored 14 points with four rebounds and four assists while making multiple “critical” plays down the stretch to help Vista (12-2) pull away from top seed Taft (11-4), and capture the Silver Division championship.

Junior center Antwan January scored 19 points with nine rebounds and two blocked shots for Taft.

Bronze Division Most Valuable Player Levontay Ott scored 12 points for Hesperia (10-4) while teammate Jaydon Everett – also selected to the all-tournament team – added 11 as the Scorpions edged La Canada.

Ott made the key defensive play of the contest. With his team clinging to a two-point advantage, he picked off a pass and was fouled with 19.3 seconds to go.

He sank both free throws and, after La Canada air-balled a 3-point attempt, Everett tacked on a free throw for the final scoring of the game.

A look at the other games played Friday:


Third: Roosevelt 66, Centennial 64. Top scorers – Matt Mitchell (R) 28. Jalen Clark (C) 19.

Fifth: Birmingham 85, Long Beach Poly 81 (OT). Top scorers – Zafir Williams (LBP) 33.
Deschon Winston (B) 26.

Seventh: Etiwanda 46, St. John Bosco 40. Top scorers – Miles Oliver (E) 18. Makani Whiteside (SJB) 20.

Consolation: Alemany 75, Santa Monica 63. Top scorers – D.J. McDonald (A) 25. De’sean Allen-Eikens (SM) 17.

11th : Oak Park 63, Rancho Christian 58. Top scorers – Wes Slajchert (OP) 24. Solomon Davis (RC) 27.

13th: Las Vegas Centennial 79, Hayward Moreau Catholic 55. Top scorers – Troy Brown (C) 27.  Kyree Walker (MC) 25.

15th: Crespi def. Lynwood, forfeit.


Third: Dominguez 72, Los Altos 66. Top scorers – Wayne Arnold (D) 25. Jarod Lucas (LA) 22.

Fifth: Windward 70, Leuzinger 57. Top scorers – Damani Washington (L) 33. Jules Bernard (W) 26.

Seventh: Claremont 70, Rancho Cucamonga 64. Top scorer – Kyle Scalamini (C) 19.

Consolation: Colony 48, Rancho Verde 46. Top scorers – Alex Ochoa ( C) 14. Jaxen Turner (RV) 17.

11th: Palmdale Highland 76, Long Beach Jordan 56. Top scorers – Justin Miller (H) 32. Cacoa Chatman (LBJ) 16.

13th: San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 56, L.A. Price 38. Top scorer – Jackson Willhite (MP) 18.

15th : Playa del Rey St. Bernard 50, Palmdale Knight 48. Top scorer – Malcolm Bray (SB) 12.


Third: La Salle 69, Diamond Bar 66. Top scorers – Darius Henderson (LS) 20. Myles Corey (DB) 25.

Fifth: West Covina 69, Kaiser 66. Top scorers – Nick Hart (WC) 49 (yes! FORTY-NINE). Dylan Harris (K) 26.

Seventh: La Sierra 46, San Dimas 40. Top scorers – Jerod Elliott (LS) 18. Ronny Rafeh (SD) 16.

Consolation: Silverado 56, Victorville Victor Valley 39. Top scorers – Jalen Hartwell (S) 14. Eimaj Jones and Paul Reddic (VV) 9 each.

11th: Valencia Trinity Classical 56, Alta Loma 51. Top scorers – Tyler Lee (TC) 18. Justin Neaves (AL) 12.

13th: Verrado (AZ) 61, Pomona 50. Top scorers – Jacob De La Torre (V) 18. Omar Perez (P) 15.

15th: Rialto 77, El Rancho 65. Top scorers – Derrion Thomas (R) 33. Noah Losoya (ER) 28.

Freedman, Samuels, Ott earn Classic at Damien Gold, Silver, Bronze MVPs; Plus a complete list of All-Tournament selections

2016 Classic at Damien Gold All-Tournament

Ezekiel Alley                 Damien                         Sr.
Jemarl Baker                 Roosevelt                      Sr.
Riley Battin                   Oak Park                       Jr.
Troy Brown                    L.V. Centennial           Sr.
Harrison Butler             Mater Dei                     Jr.
Spencer Freedman       Mater Dei                     Jr.
Devante Doutrive          Birmingham               Sr.
Kessler Edwards            Etiwanda                     Jr.
Justin Hemsley               Damien                        Sr.
Jalen Hill                          Corona Centennial   Sr.
Matt Mitchell                   Roosevelt                    Sr.
D.J. McDonald                 Alemany                      Jr.
Isaiah Mobley                 Rancho Christian      So.
Gio Nelson                       Corona Centennial   Sr.
Cameron Shelton           Damien                        Jr.
Justice Sueing                 Mater Dei                    Sr.
Matt Weyand                   Mater Dei                    Sr.
Zafir Williams                 LB Poly                        Sr.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Spencer Freedman, Mater Dei

2016 Classic at Damien Silver All-Tournament

Jules Bernard               Windward            Jr.
Darren Calhoun           Dominguez         Sr.
Jozelle Carter               Colony                   Sr.
Kihei Clark                    Taft                        Jr.
Antwan January          Taft                        Jr.
Jarod Lucas                   Los Altos             So.
Isaiah Morris                Vista                     Jr.
Taurus Samuels           Vista                     Jr.
Jaxen Turner                 Rancho Verde    So.
Damani Washington   Leuzinger           Sr.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Taurus Samuels, Vista

2016 Classic at Damien Bronze All-Tournament

Sean Estes                       La Canada        Sr.
Jaydon Everett                Hesperia           Jr.
Nick Hart                         West Covina     Sr.
Darius Henderson         La Salle             Jr.
Justin Kouyoumdjian   La Canada        Sr.
Levontay Ott                   Hesperia           Sr.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Levontay Ott, Hesperia

Damien, Mater Dei punch Classic at Damien championship tickets

by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – The results of the Gold and Silver Division championships semifinals of the first Classic at Damien couldn’t have couldn’t been cut much closer Thursday evening in the Damien High Athletic Center.

In the Gold semifinals that wrapped up an eight-game schedule in the building Thursday, the host Damien Spartans improved to 15-0 after edging Eastvale Roosevelt, 62-61, while top seed Santa Ana Mater Dei (15-1) squeaked past Corona Centennial, 51-49.

They’ll play for the championship at 8:30 Friday night following the 7 o’clock third-place game between Roosevelt and Centennial, who are rivals in the CIF Southern Section’s Big VIII League.

The Mater Dei (Gary McKnight) and Damien (Mike LeDuc) programs are led by the coaches with the most wins in California boys’ prep basketball history.

At 5:30 top seed Woodland Hills Taft (11-3) of the L.A. City Section takes on Vista (11-2) of the San Diego Section for the Silver Division championship.

Taft edged Compton Dominguez (72-69) and Vista went on a 9-1 run over the final 52 seconds to hand Hacienda Heights Los Altos (10-1) its first loss in the other Silver semifinal, 77-68.

The championship game-action begins at 4 o’clock when Hesperia (9-4) plays top seed La Canada (10-3) in the Bronze Division.

Twenty-four games will be played on Friday over the three divisions on the fifth and final day of the event, eight each in Damien’s Athletic Center and Event Center, and the other eight at near-by San Dimas High.

In the first of the Gold semifinals Thursday, the host Spartans led by as many as 10 points before Roosevelt went up (49-48) after a Matt Mitchell steal and slam 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But Damien got the lead right back, out of a timeout, via an Elijah McCullough 3 from the left wing.

The Mustangs didn’t get the lead again until Mitchell hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to put his team up, 61-60, with 1:30 to go.

The Spartans turned the ball over and milked the shot clock and seemed to have a layup by David Agba but he couldn’t convert the attempt from the right side of the rim and Damien rebounded with 45 seconds remaining.

Junior guard Cameron Shelton of Damien missed six free throws (in 12 attempts) in the fourth quarter but dropped in two with 29 seconds to go for the tying and go-ahead points.

Jemarl Baker missed a deep 3 attempt (contested by Shelton) for Roosevelt and Shelton recovered the ball and was fouled with 6.3 seconds to go in regulation.

Senior forward Justin Hemsley is looking to keep Damien undefeated and defend its home floor tonight in the Classic at Damien championship game against Mater Dei.

Senior forward Justin Hemsley is looking to keep Damien undefeated and defend its home floor tonight in the Classic at Damien championship game against Mater Dei.

He missed both attempts but Mitchell, just beyond mid-court and pushing the ball at full speed, couldn’t get a potentially winning shot off before the buzzer as Damien guard Ezekiel Alley raked at the ball and jarred it loose.

McCullough led Damien with 13 points as the Spartans hit 11 shots from behind the arc for more for than half of their offense.

Mitchell led all scorers with 31 points while Baker added 14 points but was just five of 16 from the field.

The second Gold clash was hermetically tight – the score was tied at intermission at 21 and Mater Dei was up one going into the fourth quarter -- until the Monarchs went on an 8-0 run to go up 45-36, with 4:33 remaining.

The Huskies rallied behind senior guard Isom Butler (who scored 11 fourth-quarter points) getting to within 45-42.

But junior guard Spencer Freedman of Mater Dei picked off a pass and hit a 10-foot jumper from the right baseline to push the advantage back to five points with 1:15 remaining.

After a Butler free throw, Gio Nelson, getting a pass from Jalen Hill, scored after a hard cut to the basket and Centennial was within 47-45 with 44 seconds to go.

But Michael Wang and Matt Weyand hit two free throws apiece the rest of the way for Mater Dei.

Butler’s tap-in with four seconds to go was all she wrote for Centennial, which had no timeouts remaining, and the clock expired.

Freedman (14 points) and Justice Sueing (12) scored in double figures in a game in which Mater Dei shot only 17 of 49 from the field and committed 14 turnovers.

Nelson and Butler scored 13 points apiece for Centennial while the UCLA-bound Hill grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots. But he missed eight of nine shots – mostly from in close – while hitting seven of nine free throws for nine points.

Mater Dei forward Justice Sueing scored 12 points in a semifinal win over Corona Centennial to help the Monarchs to a spot in Friday's Classic at Damien championship game against the host Spartans.

Mater Dei forward Justice Sueing scored 12 points in a semifinal win over Corona Centennial to help the Monarchs to a spot in Friday's Classic at Damien championship game against the host Spartans.

In the first of the Silver championship semifinals played in the Athletic Center on Thursday, Vista led most of the way – once by as many as 10 points – before a Jarod Lucas-led rally by the Conquerors.

A Lucas 3 – his third of the quarter – tied the score at 68 with 1:36 to go in regulation but they committed a turnover with a chance to go ahead on their next possession and the Panthers went up to stay when junior guard Taurus Samuels picked up a loose ball and scored with 1:04 remaining.

Samuels led the Panthers with 27 points (nine of 15 from the field while not missing on seven free throws) and seven assists, while fellow junior Isaiah Morris added 20 points and sophomore Jordan Hilstock 16.

The trio had a collective nine 3s.

The 6-3 Lucas (a sophomore) finally heated up after struggling from the field over the first three periods and finished with 28 points (six of 17 from the field and 12 of 14 on free throws).

The second Silver semifinal followed a similar script, with Taft building a 10-point edge early in the fourth quarter before the Dons rallied and then the Toreadors held on – barely – down the stretch.

Junior Torshawn Roland – who hadn’t taken a shot, from the field or free-throw line, until then – sank two free throws to put Taft up by three points with 7.4 seconds to go and the Dons couldn’t get a clean attempt at would have been a tying 3.

Junior center Antwan January had a dominant second half (scoring 18 points) for the Toreadors and finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Junior point guard Kihei Clark added 15 points for Taft, eight of those over the final eight minutes, while freshman Demetrius Calip and senior Skye Sabbah combined for seven 3s.

Senior forward Darren Calhoun, with a team-high 20 points, was one of four Dons to score in double figures.

In the Bronze semifinals (played at San Dimas High Thursday night), top seed La Canada (10-3) edged Diamond Bar, 61-59, as seniors Sean Estes (21) and Justin Kouyoumdjian (19) combined for 40 points.

Hesperia (9-4) knocked off Pasadena La Salle, 62-49, as Jaydon Everett scored 26 points and Levontay Ott added 15.


 Lake Balboa Birmingham 78, Etiwanda 70: Junior Devonaire Doutrive scored 26 points and he got plenty of scoring help from his senior brother, Devante (15), as well as from seniors Mark Boland (19) and Deschon Winston (12).

Junior forward Kessler Edwards (25) and senior guard Miles Oliver (23) combined for 48 of Etiwanda’s points.

Long Beach Poly 69, Bellflower St. John Bosco 56: Loyola Marymount-bound forward Zafir Williams scored 32 points (12 of 16 from field including four 3s) with 10 rebounds and two assists as Jackrabbits bounced back from their Tuesday night second-round loss to Damien.

Senior center Myles Johnson added five points, six rebounds, two assists and three blocks. Senior J.J. Watson scored 24 points for the Braves (17 after intermission).


Mission Hills Alemany 71, Oak Park 67: The Warriors came from six points down at intermission to earn a spot in the Friday consolation final (2:30 p.m.). Junior guard D.J. McDonald scored 23 points while his 6-10 classmate Fred Odhiambo had 11 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Freshman guard Clark Slajchert led Oak Park with 24 points while junior post Riley Battin added 22 points (none in the fourth quarter), seven rebounds and three assists.

Santa Monica 80, Temecula Rancho Christian 71: The Vikings’ balance was the difference as six players scored from nine to 16 points, Payton Moore and Rip Economou with 16 each. Moore had 10 rebounds and five assists.

Sophomore Isaiah Mobley of Rancho Christian had one of the best efforts of the event: 31 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.


Hayward Moreau Catholic 83, Encino Crespi 60. Top scorer – Damari Milstead (M) 25 points.

L.V. Centennial 60, Lynwood 45. Top scorer – Troy Brown and Isaiah Banks (C), both 14 points.



Leuzinger 76, Claremont 70. Top scorer – Damani Washington and Amound Anderson (L), 17 points apiece.

L.A. Windward 70, Rancho Cucamonga 65. Top scorer – Jules Bernard (W) 34.


Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 51, Palmdale Highland 33: Top scorer – Jaxen Turner (RV) 17 points.

Ontario Colony 77, Long Beach Jordan 61: Top scorer – Jozelle Carter (C) 19 points (and 11 rebounds).


San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 61, Palmdale Knight 58: Top scorer – Kyle Colvan (MP) 16 points.

L.A. Price 40, Playa del Rey St. Bernard 38: Top scorer – DeAndre Payne (P) 14 points.



Kaiser 42, San Dimas 40. Top scorer – Dylan Harris (K) 14 points.

West Covina 67, La Sierra 65. Top scorer – Nick Hart (WC) 23 points.


Victor Valley 54, Trinity Classical Academy 32. Top scorer – DeShawn Hughes (VV) 25 points.

Silverado 67, Alta Loma 55. Top scorer – Dylan Fort (AL) 21 points and Glen Gatlin (S) 16 ponts.


Pomona 56, Rialto 32. Top scorer – Waylon Anderson (R) and Fabian Garcia (P) 16 points apiece.

Verrado (AZ) 59, El Rancho 45. Top scorer – Jackson Morton (V) 15 points.

An advanced look at Thursday's Classic at Damien festivities

by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – Four teams that have already won a collective 48 games a month into the season make up the Thursday night championship semifinal field in the Gold Division of the first-ever Classic at Damien basketball tournament.

The host Damien Spartans (14-0) faces the Eastvale Roosevelt Mustangs (7-3) at 7 o’clock, with top seed Santa Ana Mater Dei (14-1) following against Corona Roosevelt (12-2) at approximately 8:30 in Damien’s Athletic Center.

Day IV of the tournament also includes championship semifinals in the Silver and Bronze divisions.

Hacienda Heights Los Altos (10-0) takes on Vista (10-2) at 4 o’clock with top seed Woodland Hills Taft (10-3) meeting Compton Dominguez (8-4) at about 5:30. Both of those games are also scheduled to be played in the Athletic Center.

The Bronze Division semis will be contested at San Dimas High, with Pasadena La Salle (7-4) playing Hesperia (8-4) at 7 p.m., and top seed La Canada (9-3) taking on Diamond Bar (10-2).

Each of the three division’s championship games are set for Friday in Damien’s Athletic Center, starting with the Bronze (4 p.m.), followed by the Silver (5:30) and Gold (8:30).

The Gold Division third-place game is scheduled for the Athletic Center at 7 o’clock Friday.

Sixteen games are scheduled to be played on the Damien campus on Thursday, eight of those (beginning at 9:30 a.m.) in the school’s Event Center and the others in the Athletic Center (starting at 10 a.m.).

Not only does The Classic at Damien include many of the elite programs in the Southern California (and the entire western region) but there is also a plethora of college prospects scattered among the event’s 48 rosters.

Ten players from the Gold Division – center Miles Brookins of Mater Dei (with La Salle University), guard Brandon Davis of Alemany (UC Santa Barbara), center Jalen Hill and guard Gio Nelson of Corona Centennial (with UCLA and UC Davis, respectively), guard Troy Brown and center Darian Scott of Las Vegas Centennial (with Oregon and Missouri State, respectively), forward Zafir Williams of Long Beach Poly (with Loyola Marymount), guard Damari Milstead of Hayward Moreau Catholic (with Grand Canyon), guards Jemarl Baker and forward Matt Mitchell of Roosevelt (with UC Berkeley and Cal State Fullerton, respectively) – signed with NCAA Division I-affiliated programs in November.

 An abbreviated list of some of the better “unsigned” seniors who will be on display in the Athletic Center on Thursday includes forward Justice Sueing (Mater Dei), guard Isom Butler (Corona Centennial), forward Justin Hemsley (Damien), guards Devante Doutrive and Deschon Winston (Birmingham), guard Miles Oliver (Etiwanda), guard J.J. Watson (St. John Bosco) and center Myles Johnson (Long Beach Poly).

Along with the many exceptional juniors, sophomores and freshmen on hand, those unsigned seniors are why the event is expected to be visited by coaches from a multitude of college programs throughout on the country on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday’s schedule:

Damien Athletic Center: 10 a.m., Lake Balboa Birmingham vs. Etiwanda; 11:30, Long Beach Poly vs. Bellflower St. John Bosco; 1 p.m., Oak Park vs. Mission Hills Alemany; 2:30, Temecula Rancho Christian vs. Santa Monica; 4, Vista vs. Hacienda Heights Los Altos; 5:30, Woodland Hills Taft vs. Compton Dominguez; 7, Eastvale Roosevelt vs. La Verne Damien; 8:30, Santa Ana Mater Dei vs. Corona Centennial.

Damien Event Center: 9:30 a.m., San Luis Obispo Mission Prep vs. L.A. Price; 11, Playa del Rey St. Bernard vs. Palmdale Knight; 12:30 p.m., Palmdale Highland vs. Moreno Valley Rancho Verde; 2, Ontario Colony vs. Long Beach Jordan; 3:30, Claremont vs. Lawndale Leuzinger; 5, L.A. Windward vs. Rancho Cucamonga; 6:30, Lynwood vs. Las Vegas Centennial; 8, Hayward Moreau Catholic vs. Encino Crespi.

San Dimas High: 3 p.m., Fontana Kaiser vs. San Dimas; 4:30, West Covina vs. Riverside La Sierra; 6, Pasadena La Salle vs. Hesperia; 7:30, La Canada vs. Diamond Bar.

Life Pacific College: 1 p.m., Rialto vs. Pomona; 2:30, Buckeye (AZ) Verrado; 4, Valencia Trinity Classical vs. Victorville Victor Valley; 5:30, Victorville Silverado vs. Alta Loma.

Gold Division semifinalists dominate Crossover Wednesday

by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – Three of the four Gold Division championship semifinalists in the first Classic at Damien Tournament won “crossover” – against teams outside of their tourney divisions – Wednesday at Damien High.

The event hosts Damien Spartans improved to 14-0 by toppling Pasadena La Salle (which is in a Bronze Division semifinal Thursday), 79-55, behind 19 points apiece from senior Justin Hemsley and junior Elijah McCullough.

The Spartans play Eastvale Roosevelt (which didn’t play a crossover – or “cross-bracket” – game) in the first Gold semifinal at 7 o’clock Thursday night.

Top-seed Santa Ana Mater Dei improved to 14-1 with its 100-68 decision over Palmdale Knight.

The Monarchs were more than a bit sluggish – especially on the defensive end – and was in front just 44-42 at intermission.

But they ramp things up considerably, at both ends of the floor, and quickly pumped their lead into double figures and led by 20 going into the fourth quarter before Coach Gary McKnight began going deeper into his bench than he has had the opportunity to in a few weeks.

Junior guard Spencer Freedman was one of five Mater Dei players to score in double figures, leading the way with 20 points (all but two of those via six 3-pointers).

Corona Centennial (which faces the Monarchs at 8:30 in the second of those semifinals) had a struggle with Claremont (Silver Division) – a la Mater Dei in the prior game – before cruising in the second half for an 84-64 win to improve to 12-2 as senior Gio Nelson scored 24 points and freshman Jaylen Clark added 18.

Woodland Hills Taft, the No. 1 seed in the Silver Division, cruised past Pico Rivera El Rancho (Bronze Division), 79-33, as center Antwan January led the way with 20 points. The Toreadors play Compton Dominguez in a semifinal at 5:30 Thursday.

In other crossover results:

*Etiwanda 55, La Canada 54. Dylan Gaines’ tip-in at buzzer enabled the Eagles to avert an upset.

*Bellflower St. John Bosco 89, West Covina 64. Makani Whiteside (SJB) 24 and J.J. Watson (SJB) 16. Nick Hart and Darian Nickols (WC), both 16.

*Temecula Rancho Christian 61, Fontana Kaiser 58. Isaiah Mobley (RC) 17. Kenneth Smith (K) 19.

*San Dimas 56, Playa del Rey St. Bernard 44. Donnell Leffridge IV (SD) 17. Mook Harris (SB) 16.

*Ontario Colony 84, Rialto 52. Sedric Altman and Siah Mack (C), both 16. Derrion Thomas and Tim Key (R), both 15.

*Palmdale Highland 70, Buckeye (AZ) Verrado 48: Deshay Gipson (H) 25, Justin Douglas (H) 16. Shaun Wahlstrom and Jackson Morton (V), both 13.

*San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 67, Alta Loma 46. Vince Ricigliano (MP) 14.

*Rancho Cucamonga 75, Victorville Victory Valley 36.

The Classic semifinals set across all Divisions


by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – The respective tables have been set for the championship semifinals Thursday during the first-ever Classic at Damien.

The matchups were set with the results of quarterfinals in the Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions Tuesday on the respective campuses of Damien and San Dimas High Schools.
Bracket play will take a one-day hiatus on Wednesday when 12 “cross-bracket” contests will be played in the Athletic (starting at 11:30 a.m.) and Event (tipping at 2 p.m.) centers on the Damien campus.

In the Gold Division, top seed Santa Ana Mater Dei (74-67 over Lake Balboa Birmingham), host Damien (topping Long Beach Poly, 71-63), Eastvale Roosevelt (74-65 against Bellflower St. John Bosco) and Corona Centennial (77-63 over Etiwanda) won their second-round games on the championship side of the bracket Tuesday.

Top seed Woodland Hills Taft will be joined by Hacienda Heights Los Altos, Compton Dominguez and Vista Thursday in the Silver semifinals (also in Damien’s Athletic Center) while top seed La Canada, along with Hesperia, Pasadena La Salle and Diamond Bar make up the Bronx semifinals that will be contested at San Dimas High Thursday.

Here is Wednesday’s complete “crossover” schedule, followed by closer looks at all of the Tuesday action:

(Damien’s Athletic Center) 11:30 a.m. Palmdale Highland vs. Verrado (AZ); 1 p.m., San Dimas vs. Playa del Rey St. Bernard; 2:30, Ontario Colony vs. Rialto; 4, St. John Bosco vs. West Covina; 5:30, Mater Dei vs. Palmdale Knight; 7, Corona Centennial vs. Claremont; 8:30, Damien vs. La Salle.

(Damien’s Event Center) 2 p.m., Rancho Christian vs. Fontana Kaiser; 3:30, Taft vs. Pico Rivera El Rancho; 5, Alta Loma vs. SLO Mission Prep; 6:30, Etiwanda vs. La Canada; 8, Rancho Cucamonga vs. Victorville Victor Valley.

Tuesday games round-up:


Championship quarterfinals

Damien 71, L.B. Poly 63: The host Spartans improved to 13-0 as junior guard Cameron Shelton scored 17 of his game-high 25 points after intermission, including crucial pair of free throws and 3-pointer in the closing minutes against the Jackrabbits.

Six-foot-six senior Justin Hemsley added 11 points and 12 rebounds for Damien while Poly got 16 points from junior point guard Darryl Polk Jr. and 12 points (all in the second half) from Loyola Marymount-bound forward Zafir Williams.

Damien guard Elijah McCullough rises up for a 3-pointer.

Damien guard Elijah McCullough rises up for a 3-pointer.

Freshman forward Austin Cook hit two 3s in the third quarter to help Damien build a 10-point lead going into the final quarter.

Damien meets Roosevelt at 7 o’clock Thursday night in a championship semifinal while Poly hooks up with St. John Bosco in a consolation semi at 11:30 a.m.

Mater Dei 74, Birmingham 67: The Monarchs improved to 13-1 (the only loss coming to Chino Hills in the Tarkanian Classic championship game on Dec. 20) but not before holding off a tough challenge from what the No. 1 team in the L.A. City Section.

The Patriots (9-3) built leads of as many as nine points – at 34-25 – in the second quarter behind the play of 6-4 senior Devante Doutrive, who scored 19 points before intermission.

But the Monarchs closed to within 36-35 as 6-9 junior Michael Wang hit a 3 and then center Miles Brookins scored a layup after being set up with a pass from junior point guard Spencer Freedman.

Mater Dei took the lead for good (at 49-48) on another Wang 3 with 3:42 to go in the third quarter and built its advantage to as many as 12 early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots never got any closer than to within three with about four minutes to go.

Doutrive finished with 27 points but was limited in part in the second half from a solid defensive effort by junior Harrison Butler (Doutrive was also guarded, at times, by senior Matt Weyand), who added 16 points as five Mater Dei players scored in double figures.

Freedman added 10 points and (according to my unofficial stats) seven assists while Wang led the way with 19 points followed by senior forward Justice Sueing’s 18 and Brookins’ 10.

Doutrive’s junior brother, Devonaire, added 14 points for Birmingham while senior point guard Deschon Winston chipped in with 13.

The Monarchs face Corona Centennial in the second Thursday night semifinal at 8:30.

Roosevelt 74, St. John Bosco 65: The Mustangs built leads of as many as 14 points in the second quarter then had to fight off multiple spirited comebacks from the Braves, falling behind once by a point after a layup by junior center JoJo Bush with 3:47 to go in the third quarter.

But Coach Steve Singleton’s Roosevelt squad (7-3) has seniors Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker on its roster – and that, ultimately, is the prime reason the Mustangs will be playing Damien Thursday night at 7 o’clock.

The Cal State Fullerton-bound (what a “steal” for the Titans) Mitchell finished 29 points and an unofficial 13 rebounds.

Baker picked up his fourth foul with 7:25 to go in the fourth quarter and spent a lot of time on the bench in the quarter but still scored 18 points.

Junior forward David Agba scored eight of his 11 points for Roosevelt in the fourth quarter.

Six-three J.J. Watson – among the very best of the unsigned senior guards in the West – led St. John Bosco with 27 points, including five 3s.

Corona Centennial 77, Etiwanda 63: The Huskies improved to 11-2 in the final game of the evening with their second win over the Eagles in three tournament meetings this season.

Coach Josh Giles’ team will get a Thursday night semifinal game with the Mater Dei program that beat the Huskies in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs last season.

Six-nine, UCLA-bound Jalen Hill (25 points and an unofficial 13 rebounds) continued his inside dominance for the Huskies this season while senior guards Gio Nelson (17) and Isom Butler (13) combined for 30 points while supplying a lot of defensive pressure on Etiwanda.

Junior forward Kessler Edwards led the Eagles with 22 points while senior point guard Miles Oliver added 20.

Consolation bracket

Santa Monica 71, Encino Crespi 69 (OT): Sophomore Kyle Owens of Crespi put the game into overtime with a 3-pointer but the Vikings used a balanced scoring attack – led by the jump shooting of junior Rip Economou (22 points, 17 of those after intermission) – to prevail after losing a first-round game to Roosevelt Monday afternoon.

The Celts (who lost to St. John Bosco Monday) were led by the 6-5, left-handed Owens, who scored a career-best 24, including 13 in the fourth quarter and knocked in four 3s.

Mission Hills Alemany 74, L.V. Centennial 69 (OT): Six-ten junior center Fred Odhiambo scored eight of his points in overtime as the Warriors moved into a Thursday consolation semifinal after suffering a 20-point loss to Corona Centennial Monday night.

Odhiambo, who had three dunks in OT, also blocked 10 shots. Junior D.J. McDonald added 25 points for Alemany, including six 3s.

University of Oregon-bound Troy Brown scored 24 points for Centennial, which lost to Etiwanda Monday night.

Oak Park 67, Lynwood 49: Junior post Riley Battin scored 35 points Monday during his team’s narrow (three-point) loss to Birmingham in the first round.

He was just as difficult to defend Tuesday while scoring 30 points against the Knight and helping put his team into a Thursday consolation semifinal against Alemany.

Temecula Rancho Christian 66, Hayward Moreau Catholic 63: Sophomore Isaiah Mobley hit a 3 from straightaway with four seconds to give his team the win after Damari Milstead had tied the score for Moreau Catholic with a 3 with 30 seconds remaining.

Mobley scored 24 points after a 21-point effort in a loss to Poly Monday.


Championship quarterfinals

Los Altos 77, Rancho Cucamonga 76: The Conquerors (10-0) trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter but was able to pull out the victory via a 3-pointer from the left corner by Jordan Ramirez with seven seconds to play, set up by a penetration pass by Jarod Lucas.

Lucas, a 6-3 junior who was the MVP for the El Rancho and Pioneer tournaments, scored 32 points while the Cougars were led by another outstanding junior, guard Toby Okwuokei, who scored 26.

Los Altos guard Jarod Lucas drives past a Rancho Cucamonga defender.

Los Altos guard Jarod Lucas drives past a Rancho Cucamonga defender.

Los Altos faces Visa in a championship semifinal Thursday afternoon (4) in the Athletic Center.

Vista 64, L.A. Windward 58: Junior guards Taurus Samuels (23) and Isaiah Morris (21) combined for all but 20 of the Panthers’ points as they were able to withstand a 31-point performance from 6-5 junior Jules Bernard to get to the Thursday semifinal.

Dominguez 79, Lawndale Leuzinger 63: Six-three Wayne Arnold – one of the multitude of very good junior prospects in this event – scored 27 points to help the Dons get to a 5:30 semifinal game with Taft Thursday.

Taft 61, Claremont 54: The top-seeded Toreadors trailed by three points at intermission but hung on for the win behind senior Abdurrahman Zaid’s 23 points.

Consolation bracket

Long Beach Jordan 70, Playa del Rey St. Bernard 54: The Panthers bounced back from a loss to Los Altos Monday night (a game in which they were in front by 10 points at intermission) as senior guard Jordan Heard led the way with 21 points.

Junior forward Malcolm Bray had 17 points for the Vikings.

Ontario Colony 71, Palmdale Knight 54: Four Titans scored in double figures, with 6-5 senior Rodrick McCobb topping them with 19 points.

Six-five sophomore Dajour Lewis scored 17 points for Knight.

Palmdale Highland 62, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep 49: Dante Williams (17) and Deshay Gipson (15) combined for 32 points recovered nicely from its 19-point loss to top seed Taft on Monday.

Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 57, L.A. Price 29: Senior forward Ajani Kennedy scored 17 points and sophomore guard Jaxen Turner added 15 for the winners.


Championship quarterfinals

La Canada 57, Kaiser 47: Sean Estes (LC) 19 points.

Diamond Bar 56, San Dimas 54: Miles Corey (DB) 15 points. Donnell Leffridge IV (SD) 22.

La Salle 89, West Covina 86: Darius Henderson and A.J. Akobian (LS) 25 points apiece.
Nick Hart (WC) 25.

 Hesperia 43, La Sierra 36: Ronnie Green and Levontay Ott (H) 11 points apiece.

Consolation bracket

Trinity Classical 57, Rialto 55; Victor Valley 49, Pomona 38; Silverado 52, Verrado 50; Alta Loma 55, El Rancho 48.


Classic at Damien Day II Preview

by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – Of the four Gold Division quarterfinal games of the first Classic at Damien being played on the championship side of the bracket on Tuesday in the Athletic Center on the Damien High campus, one will have a familiar ring – to the participants, at least.

That’s because in the last of the games set for Tuesday night, Corona Centennial and Etiwanda are scheduled to play at 8:30 for the third time in this still relatively young season.

Centennial (10-2) and Etiwanda (8-3) split their first two meetings, with Etiwanda prevailing (85-75) on Nov. 29 in the BattleZone Tournament on the Centennial campus and the Huskies returning the “favor” (66-51) on Dec. 27 in the title game of the Inland Empire tourney at Colony High in Ontario.

Centennial is led by two seniors who signed National Letters of Intent with schools in the University of California system last month, Jalen Hill (UCLA) and Gio Nelson (UC Davis).

Etiwanda has an exceptional group of guards, led by senior Miles Oliver.

In the first championship quarterfinal, set for 4 p.m., the division’s only unbeaten team, host Damien (11-0) takes on 8-4 Long Beach Poly.

The Jackrabbits’ only loss since the first week of the season came to Chino Hills (which has won 47 in a row) in the Dec. 3 BattleZone championship game, 78-75.

Next up, at 5:30, is Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-1) facing Lake Balboa Birmingham (9-2) in a clash of teams from the CIF Southern and L.A. City sections, respectively.

Some terrific matchups in that one could include point guard Spencer Freedman against his senior counterpart at Birmingham, Deschon Winston, as well as 6-6 Justice Sueing (Mater Dei) and 6-4 Devante Doutrive.

At 7 o’clock, Eastvale Roosevelt (6-3) plays Bellflower St. John Bosco (8-2).

Roosevelt’s Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker combined for 64 of the 87 points their team scored in the win over Santa Monica Monday.

In the consolation side of the bracket on Tuesday in the Athletic Center, it will be Santa Monica vs. Encino Crespi (10 a.m.), Mission Hills Alemany vs. Las Vegas Centennial (11:30), Lynwood vs. Oak Park (1 p.m.) and Temecula Rancho Christian vs. Hayward Moreau Catholic (2:30).
In the Silver Division games played in the Damien Event Center, championship quarterfinals set are L.A. Windward vs. Vista (3:30 p.m.), Lawndale Leuzinger vs. Compton Dominguez (5), Woodland Hills Taft vs. Claremont (6:30) and Rancho Cucamonga vs. Hacienda Heights Los Altos (8).

Consolation quarterfinals begin at 9:30 a.m. with Playa del Rey St. Bernard vs. Long Beach Jordan, followed by Palmdale Knight vs. Ontario Colony (11), Palmdale Highland vs. San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (12:30 p.m.) and Moreno Valley Rancho Verde vs. L.A. Price (2).

In championship quarterfinal games of the Bronze Division scheduled for San Dimas High, it will be La Canada vs. Fontana Kaiser (3 p.m.), Diamond Bar vs. San Dimas (4:30), Pasadena La Salle vs. West Covina (6) and Riverside La Sierra vs. Hesperia (7:30).

The Bronze consolation quarterfinals are schedule for Life Pacific College: Rialto vs. Valencia Trinity Classical Academy (3), Victorville Victor Valley vs. Pomona (4:30), Verrado (AZ) vs. Victorville Silverado (6) and Alta Loma vs. Pico Rivera El Rancho (7:30).

Roosevelt's Baker, Mitchell on the mark at The Classic at Damien

by Frank Burlison

LA VERNE, Ca. – The No. 1 seeds in each division “survived and advanced” – with varying degrees of difficulty – during Monday’s first day of the first-ever Classic at Damien Tournament.

The top seeds advancing to the Tuesday quarterfinals were the Gold’s Santa Mater Dei Dei (54-41 over Lynwood in Damien High’s Athletic Center), the Silver’s Woodland Hills Taft (64-45 over Palmdale Highland in Damien’s Event Center) and the Bronze’s La Canada (72-49 against Rialto at Life Pacific College).

Second-round action, on both the winners’ and consolation sides of the brackets in the respective divisions, begins Tuesday morning at 9:30 in the Damien Event Center (Silver), at 10 in the Damien Athletic Center (Gold) and at 3 p.m. at San Dimas (winners’ side Bronze) and Life Pacific (consolation side Bronze).

A closer look at Monday’s action, beginning with the Gold Division clashes:

Quite the 1-2 combination . . .

Seniors Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker of Eastvale Roosevelt looked every bit the part of one of the elite scoring duos in Southern California over the first month of the season and that was demonstrated to the nth degree during the Mustangs’ surprisingly one-sided 87-63 decision against Santa Monica.

Six-foot-six Matt Mitchell scored 33 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists while 6-4 Jemarl Baker drilled eight 3-pointers – most of those a lot closer to the 25-foot region than the 19-9 3-point line – en route to 31 points to go with three rebounds and five assists.
Junior forward De’sean Allen-Eikens led the Vikings with 20 points.
Upset alert – and actualization . . .

Etiwanda trailed by as many as 12 points in the second quarter before using its collective backcourt strength and the play of 6-5 junior Kessler Edwards to upset No. 4 seed Las Vegas Centennial, 66-62.

The Bulldogs found themselves down by 11 (53-42) with about five minutes to go but got to within three points a couple of times, the last of those at 65-62.

A jumper by Oregon-bound Troy Brown from the left wing after a handoff from Isaiah Banks would have tied the score but was short and wide right with three seconds to go.

Elijah Harkless sank an insurance free throw a second later for the final score.

Juniors Krystian Wilson and Edwards led the Eagles with 22 and 16 points, respectively, while senior point guard Miles Oliver added 14.

Six-nine senior Darian Scott and 5-9 classmate Alijah Henderson had 14 each for Centennial.

Monarchs overcome a sluggish first three quarters . . .

Coach Gary McKnight’s Mater Dei team took an 11-1 record and top seed into its game with a Lynwood squad that had lost five of its eight games.

But the underdog Knights, trying to spread the floor and go deep into the 35-second shot clock, took a 12-5 lead after one quarter and were still up late in the third quarter until Harrison Butler’s dunk of fellow junior Spencer Freedman’s miss to put the Monarchs up to stay, 34-33, and Freedman scored on a drive for his second buzzer-beater of the afternoon.

The Knights were never within closer than three points the rest of the way as Jamal Bogan got them to within 44-41 with two free throws with 3:38 to go before Mater Dei closed things on a 10-0 run.

Senior forward Justice Sueing scored 14 of his team-high 16 points after intermission for the Monarchs while juniors Michael Wang (12), Freedman (eight), Butler (eight) and Reagan Lundeen (seven) combined for 35.
Birmingham turned it up a couple notches in second half . . .

Lake Balboa Birmingham, possibly the best team in the L.A. City ranks, trailed Oak Park by 12 points at intermission of the first Gold game of the day.

But the Patriots, led by brothers Devante (23) and Devonaire (17) Doutrive – who combined for 40 points – and a 25-point effort by senior point guard Deschon Winston, picked up the pace at both ends of the floor and eventually held on to win, 81-78.

Six-eight junior Riley Battin scored a day-high 35 points for Oak Park – 25 in the second half
Zafir Williams helps propel Long Beach Poly into quarters . . .

The 6-5, Loyola Marymount-bound forward scored 25 points – 13 of those in the fourth quarter – as the Jackrabbits improved to 7-4 while overcoming a seven-point deficit early in the third quarter and pulling away down the stretch for a 71-55 win over Temecula Rancho Christian. Sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley led Rancho Christian with 21 points.

Trinity League makes it 2-for-2 on Monday . . .

Bellflower St. John Bosco joined fellow Trinity League member Mater Dei in moving to the quarterfinals with its 73-41 win over Encino Crespi.

Senior guard J.J Watson led the Braves with 18 points, 15 of those coming via five buckets from behind the arc.

Crespi was minus two starters from its 2016 California State Division I championship squad in guards Brandon Williams and Taj Regans, who are sidelined with injuries.
Corona Centennial in a start-to-finish impressive effort . . .

The Huskies’ game with Mission Hills Alemany had the looks of being one of the tightest first-day confrontations.

But Coach Josh Giles’ squad pretty much seized control of things immediately and never let the metaphorical foot off the pedal while sprinting to a 70-50 victory.

Senior guard Isom Butler led the way with 20 points while classmates Jalen Hill (18) and Gio Nelson (15) combined for 33 more.
And the tourney host closes out things in style . . .

Junior guard Elijah McCullough sank five 3s in the first quarter to help the Damien Spartans sprint to a 34-12 lead after eight minutes and to close out the Hayward Moreau Catholic squad, 85-64.

Damien, which sank 10 shots from behind the arc in the first half, was led by Cameron Shelton (23 points), a 6-2 transfer from Chino Hills who was selected the Most Outstanding Player in the Riverside Sierra Vista and La Canada tourneys won earlier this season by the 11-0 Spartans.

McCullough added another 3 in the second quarter and didn’t score again while finishing with 18 points.

Freshman Kyree Walker led the lads from Northern California with 22 points.
In the Silver Division:
Jules was a jewel indeed for L.A. Windward . . .

Six-five junior Jules Bernard scored his team’s final 11 points to put things into overtime and then followed in his own miss with three seconds to go in OT to give Windward its 71-70 win over Palmdale Knight.

Twenty of Bernard’s 33 points came over the final 12 minutes (eight in the fourth quarter and four in OT).

Windward was playing without one of its best players as senior guard Jalen Harris will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury suffered a couple of weeks ago.
That’s what you call a “rally” . . .

Lawndale Leuzinger trailed Moreno Valley Rancho Verde by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and by 10 – yes, 10 – with 30 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

But the Olympians pulled out a 61-60 stunner with a 35-point performance in that fourth quarter that was capped by freshman Amound Anderson’s 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key that cleared the rim and net at the buzzer.

The left-handed Anderson scored 15 of his team-high points in the fourth quarter, including seven of eight free-throw attempts.

Anderson sank two of three attempts with 3.4 seconds to go to get his team to within two points, then senior Anthony Hamilton picked off the inbound pass and immediately whipped a pass to Anderson, who caught the ball and fired immediately for the game-winning jumper.

No first-round strain for Taft . . .

Junior point guard Kihei Clark scored 26 points – including four 3s in the second half – and kept the top-seed Toreadors comfortably in front over the second half after taking a five-point lead at the half.

Junior center Antwan January (whose brother, Anthony, led Taft to an L.A. City title a few years ago) added 19 points for Taft.
Down 10 at half but moves into winners’ side of bracket . . .

No. 2 seed Hacienda Heights Los Altos trailed Long Beach Jordan at intermission, 41-31.
But the Conquerors scored the first 14 points in the third quarter and went on to win, 69-64, and improve to 9-0.

Sophomore Jarod Lucas (19) and juniors Julian Lopez (16) and Bryant Howing (13) combined for 48 points for Los Altos.

Down-to-the-wire for the win . . .

Senior forward Darren Calhoun scored 19 points as the Dominguez Dons broke out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter before hanging on for the victory against L.A. Price.

Salting it away from the free-throw line . . .

Rancho Cucamonga sank 10 of 12 free-throw attempts over the final quarter to help secure its 63-56 decision against Playa del Rey St. Bernard.

Five Cougars scored at least eight points, with senior Kahlil McGuire pacing that group with 17 points.

Sophomore guard Amani "Mook" Harris led the way for the Vikings with 20 points.

Balance is the key . . .

Four Claremont players scored at least 14 points with senior guard Kyle Scalmanini leading the way with 17 as his team edged San Luis Obispo Mission Prep, 67-66.

Six-six senior Carter Gran led all scorers with 20 points for Mission Prep.

Reppin’ San Diego County . . .

Vista hit 11 shots from behind the arc as the all-junior starting backcourt of Taurus Samuels
(25) and Isaiah Morris (22) combined for 47 points to spark the Panthers past Ontario Colony, 82-69, in the division’s final game Monday night.
In the Bronze Division:
(at San Dimas High)

La Canada 72, Rialto 49. Top scorers: Justin Kouyoumdjian (LC) 19. Derrion Thomas (R) 14.

Fontana Kaiser 67, Valencia Trinity Classical 29. Top scorers: Derrick Irenen (K) 14. Kobe Schafer (TC) 14.

Diamond Bar 56, Victory Valley 42. Top scorers: Malik Corey (DB) 32. Joey Mulender (VV) 17.

San Dimas 68, Pomona 34. Top scorers: Donnell Leffridge (SD) 15. Ivan Richmond (P) 8.

(at Life Pacific College)

Hesperia 63, Pico Rivera El Rancho 27. Top scorers: Jimmy Ott (H) 13. Art Angles (ER) 14.

Riverside La Sierra 56, Alta Loma 44. Top scorers: Matt Martin (LS) 18. Jerod Elliot (AL) 16.

West Covina 64, Victorville Silverado 59. Top scorers: Nick Hart (WC) 31. Rodney Hardrick (S) 16.

Pasadena La Salle 63, Buckeye (AZ) Verrado 43. Top scorers: Darius Henderson (LS) 12. Jackson Morton (V) 7.