Monday, June 25, 2018
Page 763

Stormin’ at the Storm

First, longtime Storm center Lauren Jackson goes on the market as a free agent a few weeks ago, and no one knows yet if or where she’ll be playing in the WNBA next year.

Then the Storm waived Sheryl Swoopes.

Swin Cash is supposedly injured now. But the Storm has signed Janell Burse, who sat out last year with an injury, and Ashley Robinson, who is a sometimes-contributing bench player.

Now there are rumors floating around that Yolanda Griffith won’t be returning to the Storm.

Looks like it’ll be a long season for the Seattle faithful. It’s starting to sound like the 2000 and 2001 seasons (and that isn’t a good thing).

AP Poll, LA Times HS rankings, and national rankings

AP Top 25

1.Connecticut (45)
8.North Carolina
12.Texas A&M
14.Florida St.
16.Iowa St.
18.Ohio St.
20.Kansas St.
22.Notre Dame
23.South Dakota St.
Mon Feb 9, 2009


LA Times California high school rankings, Feb. 6, by Melissa Rohlin:

1. Mater Dei (25-0) (1)
2. Brea Olinda (21-2) (2)
3. Cajon (23-2) (3)
4. Long Beach Poly (22-2) (4)
5. Foothill (23-1) (5)
6. Troy (22-1) (6)
7. Bell-Jeff (25-1) (8)
8. Summit (21-4) (9)
9. Santa Monica (18-6) (12)
10. Inglewood (10-15) (11)
11. Etiwanda (17-7) (16)
12. Chatsworth (16-8) (18)
13. Canyon Springs (18-6) (NR)
14. Woodbridge (21-3) (10)
15. Millikan (20-4) (7)
16. Muir (18-3) (15)
17. Pacific Hills (16-9) (17)
18. Orange Lutheran (21-2) (13)
19. St. Paul (16-8) (22)
20. Vista Del Lago (21-2) (NR)
21. Thousand Oaks (20-4) (NR)
22. Santa Margarita (13-10) (NR)
23. Agoura (21-3) (24)
24. Edison (18-4) (NR)
25. Bishop Amat (19-5) (25)

Check out Kenny Kallina’s national top 25:

Mater Dei on top of the whole country!

Not surprising to me.

Quick trip to the top for Teresa Weatherspoon? And Sheryl Swoopes speaks

Louisiana Tech has fired Chris Long as its head coach, and made assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon the interim head coach. The only surprise here is that they didn’t wait to fire Long until after the season. But who else should be the head coach now besides alumni Spoon?

Um, nobody.

Meanwhile, 2000 miles to the west, Sheryl Swoopes shares more about being cut from the Storm last week. She said she didn’t expect the cut at all.

I’ve also heard from a very reliable source that Swoopes is pretty bitter about the Storm’s actions.


Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges update

I’m pausing with the head-thrashing to report that the Umpqua Community College women continue their winning ways with a win over Gresham last night. The Riverhawks are 21-2 and have been ranked number 1 in the NWAACC coaches poll all season long.

GRESHAM — Roseburg High graduate Kristi Fallin scored 33 points and freshman point guard Mykiea Russell turned in a solid effort as the top-ranked Umpqua Community College women’s basketball team beat Mt. Hood 89-78 Saturday in Southern Region play.

Russell had 17 points and five assists while only committing two turnovers for the Riverhawks (21-2, 8-1 NWAACC South), who held a one-point lead at halftime. Miranda Holenstein added 12 points and six rebounds, and Cassie Scheffelmaier had 12 points.

UCC outrebounded Mt. Hood, 45-36 and was led by Cassandra Tiggett’s nine boards.

Alex Melonson was the Saints’ only player to reach double figures with 19 points. She also had nine assists for Mt. Hood (12-10, 4-5).

The Riverhawks have maintained the NWAACC poll’s No. 1 ranking since the beginning of the season.

UMPQUA (89) — Kristi Fallin 11-20 6-6 33, Russell 5-10 6-8 17, Scheffelmaier 4-10 3-6 12, Holenstein 3-7 6-8 12, Tiggett 3-4 1-5 7, Takai 2-3 0-0 4, Wilton 0-3 2-2 2, Strawn 1-3 0-2 2, Owens 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-61 24-37 89.

MT. HOOD (78) — Alex Melonson 9-22 1-2 19, Beus 3-4 2-2 8, Ramos 3-6 0-0 7, Bahme 3-5 1-2 7, Yates 3-7 0-0 7, Ziegler 3-3 0-1 6, Cunningham 2-7 0-0 6, Campbell 2-5 0-0 6, Smith 2-4 0-0 5, Burroughs 2-5 0-0 5, Hodges 0-2 2-4 2, Bennett 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-71 7-13 78.

Halftime — UCC 44, Mt. Hood 43. 3-point goals — UCC 7-16 (Fallin 5-11, Russell 1-2, Scheffelmaier 1-3), M.H. 7-20 (Campbell 2-3, Cunningham 2-5, Ramos 1-3, Yates 1-3, Burroughs 1-2). Rebounds — UCC 45 (Tiggett 9), M.H. 36 (Smith 9). Assists — UCC 15 (Russell 5), M.H. 20 (Melonson 9). Total fouls — UCC 18, M.H. 26. Fouled out — Takai. Turnovers — UCC 16, M.H. 19.


Way to go, Mykiea Russell! You are doing your hometown Los Angeles proud.

OK, back to the head-pounding.

USC 87, UCLA 76

From UCLA’s website, because I don’t have the energy to go through it again, after watching it:

Los Angeles, CA – UCLA outscored USC, 51-41, in the second half but could not overcome a 21-point halftime deficit, falling to the Trojans by an 87-76 count on Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center.

The Bruins led 6-2 to start the game, but poor shooting by UCLA, who missed 13 of their first 16 shots and shot just 21.9% in the half, allowed USC to quickly take a 17-11 lead with 10:43 to play in the half. UCLA used a 7-2 run over a minute and a half to close to within one, but the Trojans went on a 13-1 run to up their advantage to 32-19 with 4:45 to play in the half. USC took a 46-25 lead into halftime after closing the half with a 14-3 run. The 46 points by the Trojans were the most by a Bruin opponent this season.

Down by 21 points, the Bruins faced a major uphill climb but got off to a good start in the second half by scoring the first six points and using a 10-3 run to cut the lead to 14, 49-35. Doreena Campbell scored eight of the 10 points in the run. The Bruins closed the gap to 10 points, 55-45, after consecutive jumpers by Erica Tukiainen, Campbell and Atonye Nyingifa. USC, however, got the lead back up to 19, 68-49, with an 11-2 run.

However, UCLA quickly mounted another comeback with an 11-3 run over a minute and 43 seconds to pull to within 11, 73-62, with 5:36 to play. Three straight steals, two by Nyingifa and one by Tierra Henderson led to five of those points. A three-pointer by Tukiainen at 4:52 made it a 10-point game, 75-65, but the Bruins would not be able to get any closer.

Campbell led all players with 20 points, her fourth 20-point game of the season. Tukiainen had 14 points and a career-high four steals, and Nyingifa added a career-high tying 10 points and eight rebounds. Junior center Moniquee Alexander was the game’s leading rebounder with a career-high 13 boards, seven offensive. She also tied her career-best with two blocks and added eight points.

Camille Lenoir and Heather Oliver led four USC players in double-figures with 19 points apiece.

UCLA’s record drops to 14-7, 5-5 in the Pac-10. USC improves to 12-9, 6-4 in the Pac-10.

The Bruins will next host Arizona on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7 pm in Pauley Pavilion.


Box score:

None of the above accurately conveys just how horribly UCLA played today. Their 21.9 percent shooting in the first half was abysmal. They were 3-16 for three-pointers. They just looked utterly discombobulated. Even when they mounted a comeback in the second half, it quickly fell apart.

Me and my crew of Spark fans observed that:

– UCLA let USC’s defense punk them. Granted, the Trojans were putting on some great moves to defend their basket, but the Bruins didn’t push back much. They just kept passing the ball. And passing, and passing, and passing, and passing……..
– And what is up with that passing? They needed to take it to the rack but they were afraid to, so they kept throwing up stupid shots that they couldn’t make. USC was hungrier today.
– Moniquee Alexander is a great person, but she needs to be more aggressive under the hoop. She put up three shots soft, and they didn’t go in – not even close. She did get 13 rebounds, but she could have got at least 19 if she would use that big body of hers more. But this isn’t a new issue with her – it’s just something she hasn’t corrected yet. Hopefully she will soon.
– The Bruins still stand around too much on offense. They need to pick it up, set more screens, flash more.
– Camille LeNoir is a stud. There were times today when she just put her team on her back. And she had two amazing, run-to-the-rack plays. I hope the Sparks draft her.
– Doreena Campbell is a stud. But she can’t do it alone, people.

I turn my back to: referees Michael Price, Chuck Gonzalez and Jeneane Pence.

A horrendous crew of officials. WNBA fans already know how much Michael Price sucks, but I hadn’t seen the other two before. Maybe Price rubbed off on them, because they were calling every ticky-tack BS thing they could think of, on both sides. At one point in the second half, they called a foul on a Bruin player, so the Trojan player stepped to the line for the free throw. On the rebound they called a foul on another Bruin player, sending a second Trojan to the line. After that throw, they called a foul on an SC player. It was at that point that the crowd began cat-calling. I yelled at them that I had to go to work tomorrow.

Kudos to: the 8721 that came out today as part of the “Day in Troy” campus tour (UCLA has one too when USC comes to that campus). It was great to see the Galen Center so full of fans.

As Tennessee lost to Florida at the same time UCLA was tanking, I’m going to go pound my head against the wall for a while before bedtime.

What’s the deal with

No, I’m not talking about the lunatic people who post there (the only thing uglier than a miffed sports fan is a miffed parent of an athlete).

I’m talking about why their front page still carries advertisements for camps and events from 2004.

Two thousand freakin four, people. No lie.

I’ve asked why on the board twice in the last year. The first time the post was ignored, and the second time, it was taken down by the moderators. So obviously they’re really attached to those five-year-old clinics.

I don’t understand at all, but I’d like to. If anyone out there knows why the board owners continue to keep these ancient ads up, would you please let me know?

More Mater Dei-Cajon fallout, Brea Olinda news

Layshia Clarendon admitted her performance Friday night included a lot of acting:

They overcame an absolutely courageous 28-point effort from Clarendon, who, like a wounded prey, labored physically throughout the night.

The 5-8 senior, who has signed a letter of intent to Cal, fell hard to the floor at least a dozen times and often took unusually long rests not only between recovery time but free throws, clearly passing the obsolete and never-called 10-second rule.

Clarendon, later admitting her deliberate and dramatic ways were to give her thin squad a blow, never showed affects in performance. She swished 10 of 11 free throws and was 8 of 17 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers.

While constantly wincing and appearing labored, Clarendon was at her best in the second quarter when Cajon went on a 24-11 run. Despite being harassed by physical man pressure and double teams, she had 14 of them, scoring on driving, acrobatic runners, 3-pointers, pulls-ups and free throws.

The Cowboys also were ignited by three steals and a pair of baskets by sophomore Kori Walker.

Four straight free throws by Clarendon in the final 30 seconds of the half gave Cajon just its second lead, 32-31 at halftime.

This after a 14-2 run to end the first quarter, keyed by two 3-pointers from Haugen and six straight off the bench from Vaioletama, gave the Monarchs a 20-8 first-quarter lead.

Asked how she found the energy when it appeared she was so labored, Clarendon said the delays after whistles were key. Kiernan half-heartedly complained to the referees but later credited Clarendon for being smart. He called the holdups “pseudo timeouts” allowing the Cowboys to rest against the very long Monarchs bench.

“It’s a trick my father taught me a long time ago,” she said with a smile.


I respect her honesty and intelligence, but I still say, why not just call some timeouts? Cajon barely called any, so they had plenty to use.

I don’t get it.

Last night second-ranked Brea Olinda traveled up to Hanford and beat the number-seven team, 78-67. I’d love to dissect some stats, but neither coach has entered any on maxpreps.

Coach Swoopes

Though Sheryl Swoopes’ professional future is uncertain after being cut by the Seattle Storm this week, she is having an amazing time this year coaching the Overlake School’s basketball team of seventh- and eighth-graders. So far, Swoopes’ Redmond team is 4-2.

This has worked out unbelievably well for Swoopes, who gets as much from this experience as the girls on her team. Besides playing for the Storm, she always thought there was another reason why she came to Seattle. Hard to believe she found it at this little school off Old Redmond Road.


Funny, but coaching changed my life course too. We’ll see what happens with Coach Swoopes, but I hope it’s good things.

Mater Dei Monarchs 64, Cajon Cowgirls 56

Considering Mater Dei runs 16 deep to Cajon’s nine – and that only five of those nine can actually play – the Cowgirls made it much more of a game than I thought they would. For that, I give them props; I thought they’d get whooped by the number one-ranked team in the country by at least 20.

But in the end, Cajon was worn down by the suffocating, relentless defense of its opponents, and by the tiers of Mater Dei players that always kept fresh legs in the game.

The game was neck-and-neck for the first half of the first quarter, with Cajon’s Darshae Burnside and Mater Dei’s Mya Oliver leading the charge for their teams. But then Monarch Coach Kevin Kiernan put in sophomore forward Alexyz Vaioletama, and the momentum shifted.

Vaioletama hit a velvety floater. One Cajon turnover later, she forced a shot in from the low post. At the first quarter buzzer, Vaioletama caught a very long pass and laid it up and in to put her team ahead 20-8.

She continued her assault in the second quarter, hitting two consecutive shots and stealing the ball and making a bucket; she finished the half with 11 points.

Alexyz Vaioletama battles for a loose ball with Cajon’s Ebony James.

Photo taken by Terry Pierson of the Press-Enterprise,

But Cajon’s superstar guard Layshia Clarendon heated up in the second quarter and ignited a run for her team. On every posession she fought to get the ball up court, and she hit a three-point field goal while teammate Kori Walker hit two successive shots. Through fighting to get the ball up court and making a lot of shots, the Cowgirls first closed the gap and then took the lead, 32-21, at halftime. Clarendon had 16 points and Burnside, nine.

Cajon came out blazing in the third quarter, and Clarendon’s quick scoring increased their lead 38-31. But a big shot by Mater Dei’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suddenly put out their fire. Behind the sophomore guard, the Monarchs went on a 16-0 run before the Cowgirls were finally able to score again with 1:57 to play in the period. Mosqueda-Lewis and Clarendon continued to trade baskets, and it was 51-44 at the end of three.

The Cowgirls got as close as five a couple times in the fourth quarter, but it was the Mosqueda-Lewis show. Watching her hit shot after shot, I forgot that she’d only scored two of her game-high 21 points in the first half. In fact, it was her baseline drive for the bucket and the foul with 37 seconds left that sealed the victory for Mater Dei, putting them ahead 64-56 – the final score.

Mosqueda-Lewis also finished with six rebounds and three steals, as did Vaioletama, who also contributed 13 points.

Clarendon had 28 points, four rebounds and three steals, while Burnside put up 13, grabbed 10 boards and had three blocks. Her status is not known, as she went down with what appeared to be a rolled ankle after a drive with 21 seconds to play. No one from Cajon showed up for post-game interviews with the media.

Vailetama blocks Burnside’s shot in the second half.

Photo taken by Terry Pierson of the Press-Enterprise,

Mater Dei Coach Kiernan is in his second season at Mater Dei, having come from Troy High School in Fullerton. There, he guided his team to three state and five Southern California state titles in 11 years.

He admitted to that he is “trying to build something very special here,” but said he is ahead of schedule.

I’ll tell you one of the reasons why: defense. I’ve not seen a full-court press like Mater Dei’s before. I don’t even know what you’d call it.

First, they put two defenders on the inbounder, or whomever is in the backcourt alone with the ball. Cajon turned the ball over a couple times before they figured out they needed to put the ball in Clarendon’s hands to start, because she was the only one with the acumen to get it out of the trap. Even so, it required the Cal-bound senior to bob up and down or lunge through the two defenders just to make the pass. If the ball gets past the first person, there are three other Mater Dei defenders waiting to shut down the offense. The Monarchs are a very tall team.

Another reason Mater Dei has risen to the top is that they are just loaded, and most of the best players are underclasswomen. Besides Mosqueda-Lewis and Vaioletama, they’ve got freshman point guard Jordan Adams and freshman guard Taylor Spears, each of whom average eight points and four assists per game. Senior Kathryn Haugen and junior Lauren Rock are also heavyweights on the team, and sophomore guard/forward Jessica Duarte is on the rise. Oliver is also a solid contributor.

Clarendon was impressive – much more so than in the Brea game two weeks ago. She only walked the ball up the court once, in the second half, and that was to slow down the feverish pace of the game. Mater Dei didn’t give her that luxury the rest of the time, and Clarendon handled it well. She really had to push hard to get the ball up the court on every single possession, and she’d just put her shoulder down and pound the ball into the floor, spinning away from a defender if she had to. Clarendon also made some pretty improbable shots. Mater Dei made her work hard for every single point, and she’s got a lot of endurance in that skinny little body.

But despite her undisputable skills, I decided last night that I’m not a fan of Clarendon or her team. They seem to thrive on displays, and I’m not big on drama. Even Paul Westphal, at one point in his broadcast, chuckled and said, “my but Cajon certainly has a flair for theatrics.” Indeed.

Clarendon was knocked to the ground several times as she fought to get the ball up court, and with each time, she made a bigger and bigger show out of getting up and grimacing. One time she was knocked to the ground mid-court, and laid there on her stomach for almost 30 seconds, sucking wind. Late in the game, Clarendon would step back and bend over for a few seconds before putting up a free throw.

I’m not saying that playing an intense, forest fire of a team like Mater Dei is easy, and I’m quite sure Clarendon was really tired. But the Monarchs were also fighting hard, and for their undefeated lives, and all they did was sweat a lot – there were no facial or emotional displays. Plus, everytime Clarendon went down, not one of the four coaches on the bench made a move to get out of their seats to help her. Granted, the minute a coach walks on the floor the player has to be taken out, and Cajon needed her for all 32 minutes. Still, they could have put her right back in, which lead me to think they knew what was up with her.

Cajon, as a team, also had trouble getting off the floor when they were warming up at a basket. First it was at halftime of the proceeding game, when Foothill came back to their seats and needed their basket. Then it was prior to their own game, when Mater Dei players were already lining up for intros while Cajon players ignored assistant coach Krystal Gray’s admonition to “come on!” for their own line up.

Before the game, Mater Dei players went to shake hands with all the refs. After the game, Mosqueda-Lewis, Vaioletama and Kiernan spoke with reporters and posed for photos. No one from Cajon came to the media room.

The referees did indeed seem biased towards Mater Dei at times, but I hope Cajon didn’t let that take them out of their game. Every great coach will tell you, don’t let the refs get in your head.

The one downer of the night was that Burnside apparently turned her ankle as she drove for the basket with 21 seconds to play. Her shoulders shook as she lay on her side, and this time the coaches did come out on to the floor. I hope she’s allright. Her team really needs her.

Other notes

Teams or partial teams in the house to check out the matchup: Brea Olinda, Bishop Amat, Riverside.

There are cameras in the ceiling of the gym. A guy that said he worked there tried to tell me they were spotlights, but when they lit up the spotlights for game intros, they were not them. I know a camera when I see it. Why would Mater Dei have cameras in a ceiling of a gym?

Foothill’s Christina Marinacci put up 27 points – 18 in the first half – in her team’s game against Long Beach Wilson, prior to the premiere game. Marinacci is off to USC next year, which explains why Trojan Coach Mark Trakh was in the house.

Best triple-threat position award goes to Vaioletama. Just awesome.

Mater Dei (top photo) and Cajon warm up before the game at their respective baskets.

Fun at Mater Dei

The Southern Section playoffs are moving from Long Beach State’s “Pyramid” this year to Mater Dei High School. The LA Junior Nationals tourney might be played there in April. And why, you ask? Take a look at the photo above.

Gorgeous facility. Only three years old, too. All the bleachers have seat backs; there is a large color monitor on each end of the court that shows the game and score. There are two long tables on each side of the court – one for the stat keepers/clock workers, and one for the press. The stat keeper side has a video screen on the front, facing the court, that constantly scrolls ads (in the pic it has the Nike swish going at the time). The floor has been done three times, according to staff, and the facility seats 1300-1500. In other words, it’s a real arena.

I had a good time tonight. After a lopsided Foothill-Long Beach Wilson game, I witnessed an intense, hard-driving matchup in Mater Dei vs. Cajon. I’ll post more specifics tomorrow. But it was funny who I ended up sitting next to at the press table for the premiere game.

I came back from getting stats and this guy had set up shop one seat away from me with his laptop and a whole bunch of notes that lined his entire space. I was impressed with that, but was too busy watching warm-ups to pay him much more attention. That is, until the team intros were completed and he suddenly put on a headset with a microphone and began talking into it.

“We’re here at beautiful Mater Dei High School with its amazing athletic facilities, in the Mereulo Athletic Center,” he boomed. “This is Paul Westphal, and this is”

So I’m sitting next to a basketball legend that might still live in my hometown Seattle, calling the game for the website I’d posted on my blog before I came. Just ask my kids – this kind of thing happens to me all the time.

Westphal was amazing. He’d done all his homework, so he spoke with authority about every player, provided flawless description of the goings on as they occurred, and kept stats (points only) as he spoke. I felt like a punk.

At a timeout when he took the headphones off, I asked him how long he’d been doing it and he said 20 years. I told him he was great, and that his comments were right on. He was very sweet. And at one point in the second half, I leaned over to look and see how many points he had down for the Walker kid; he was right on the money.

Mater Dei has a hell of an athletic program, as you can see by the million championship banners hanging from the ceiling. And they play crazy 70’s music during game pauses, like KISS and “Kung Fu Fighting.” But they’re great hosts, and their organizational skills are amazing.

Way across the Los Angeles area, my favorite high school team also won their game, putting them undefeated so far in their league. WOOT!

And though Mater Dei isn’t my favorite team, I can now say they’re one of my favorites. This is amusing, because I didn’t even expect to like them.

More after I get some Z’s.

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