Covering High School Sports in America
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - There was one near upset, but things went about as planned on Day 2 of the 64-team, eight division MaxPreps Holiday Classic. There were plenty of highlight-reel plays and loads of heated action as teams completed the second day of pool competition.

Photo by David Hood

Ponderosa's Curtis Opsahl (green) and El Camino's Dayton Boddie fight for a rebound in the first of a double- header for each team Wednesday (see story below).

Today completes pool action and the winners of each face off in championship games on Friday.

Among Wednesday's highlights (see feature on Pleasant Grove 6-foot-8, 285-pound two-sport future college star Arik Armstead): 

FINISHING STRONG: Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) junior point guard Shaquille Davis dribbled down the left flank a little off balance and under duress, but he heard Tafari Whittingham hooting from the right wing.

He sent a perfectly place lob pass toward the wing and the high-flying 6-foot-7 wing, with his elbows at the rim, slammed down the final two points in Lincoln's hard-fought, tooth-and-nail 48-39 win over Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) at College of the Desert.

This was an offensive and emphatic conclusion to a defensive stalemate and it was appropriate the highly-touted Whittingham finished it off. He led all scorers with 18 points.

Despite a defender on his hip, Whittingham wasn't coy or hesitant. It was the best dunk we saw from either the top two venues, the other Cathedral City High School. It finished off a 10-2 run to close the game.

"My only thought was 'just finish,' " said Whittingham, who has had several East Coast offers but is leaning toward Hofstra. "(Davis) and I have a good connection and he knows just to send it up high. I just went up and got it."

Skyline had closed to its closest margin since early in the first quarter 38-37 on a 3-pointer by Bryan Cikatz with 4:50 to play, but Lincoln's defensive pressure was just too much down the stretch.

The Railsplitters forced turnovers on six of Skyline's next seven possessions and got steals and breakaway layups from Dashawn Suber and Isaiah Whitehead to win going away. Whitehead, considered one of the best sophomores in the country, finished with 12.

Lincoln (8-0) plays Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) tonight in pool play with the winner to play Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) for the Invitational Division title on Friday. Mater Dei is No. 7 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings presented by the Army National Guard.

"We play all facets," Whittingham said. "This wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win. We'll need to play better (tonight)."

Photo by David Hood

Harvard-Westlake's Derick Newton goes up for two of his game-high 20 points.

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake played nearly 'A' games with easy pool victories. Mater Dei got 20 points each from its Top 100 recruits, Katin Reinhardt (UNLV) and Xavier Johnson (Colorado) and Stanley Johnson chipped in 15 as the Monarchs ran away from Dorsey 81-36.

Reinhardt drilled four 3-pointers helping the Monarchs (9-1) go on a 47-12 run in the second half. Dorsey (5-4) got 16 points from Kalin Barber. The Dons simply couldn't keep track of all of Mater Dei's shooters. Xavier Johnson also had a pair of impressive interior moves and dunks.

Mater Dei unsung point guard Eli Stalzer distributed the ball beautifully.

Harvard-Westlake (7-3) showed off its superior depth and skill in a 92-54 win over Bishop Manogue.

Sophomore Derick Newton had 20 points, Francis Hyde 15 and Zena Edosomwan and Michael Sheng added 10 apiece. Edosowman said the Wolverines are making up the slack left by 6-7 Utah-bound guard Josh Hearlihy, out for the year with two torn patellas.

"Josh did so much for us and was one of our top three scorers," Edosowman said. "Everybody is just contributing a little bit more. We miss Josh a ton, but it's great to see how everyone has responded."
 
LET'S PLAY TWO: Ernie Banks would have been proud of the squads from Ponderosa (Shingle Springs, Calif.) and El Camino (Oceanside, Calif.), which decided to play a game a non-divisional game for extra work at 10 a.m.

Both coaches left El Camino's 60-51 victory a little steamed and subdued, but by the end of the night were more than satisfied as each won their nightcap about eight hours later. Ponderosa edged Lakeside 56-52 and El Camino defeated Perris 74-53.

With just eight players, El Camino's win was particularly impressive.

"Kids are pretty resilient," El Camino coach Ray Johnson said. "We just needed to get some rest between games, though we pretty much slept through the first one anyway."

Photo by David Hood

El Camino's Tommy Griffin goes up for a mid-range jumper.

WAKING UP: After taking an 11-0 lead against Ponderosa, El Camino (9-3) went back to bed according to Johnson and the only way to get them awake was with these three words: "Get into them."

Translation: pressure the ball.

The Wildcats did just that, forcing 11 of Ponderosa's 16 turnovers in the second half, keying runs of 14-2 in the third quarter and 9-2 in the fourth.

Dayton Boddie, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound physical specimen headed to University of Riverside, led the charge with 15 points while Lorenzo Garcia, a blur of a 6-foot point guard, added 13 points.

Johnson, a legendary coach around the San Diego Section, where El Camino has claimed 11 section crowns, said this team has played in spurts. When the Wildcats utilize their extreme team speed with defensive pressure, good things happen.

"I think we got largely outplayed," Johnson said. "We finally started picking up the pressure and pulled it out. But we'll need to play better than this."

Boddie, who broke his leg in football last year and gave up the sport to focus on basketball, pretty much does it all for the Wildcats: wing, perimeter and in the low block. 

"I like the role," he said. "Where ever we need help I'm willing to give. It will be different in college, but for now, I'm enjoying playing everywhere. I love playing with these guys and representing my school."

EMBRACING THE BALL: Ponderosa coach Andy Beal, whose team won just two games last year, has already tripled that amount with a 6-7 mark. Heading into the El Camino game, he said with more careful care of the ball the team could easily have won two more games.

Against El Camino, it was more of the same. After falling behind 11-0, the Bruins methodically and skillfully got back into the game by running good sets, making their shots and most important, taking care of the ball.

Photo by David Hood

Ponderosa's Nicco Bruks just before burying a 3-pointer from the wing.

The played perhaps their best quarter of the past two seasons with a 19-8 run in the second to take a 23-21 lead, one their extended to 28-21 on a jumper by Trevor Hammitt and a 3-pointer from Nicco Bruks to start the second half. But that's when El Camino turned up the heat, and went on a 14-2 run to take a 35-30 lead.

To their credit, the Bruins fought back behind 6-8 sophomore center Chris Snyder (game high 22 points, six rebounds) to take a 38-37 lead on a layup from Snyder to start the fourth quarter. El Camino rattled off 9 of the next 11 to look back in control, but another Snyder layup and jumper by Curtis Opsahl cut the lead to 46-44.

But that's as close as Ponderosa would get. Opsahl added 12 points and Hammitt nine.

"We definitely have shown an ability to compete and fight back," Beal said. "We just need to take care of the ball.

"The good thing is we showed we can execute a game plan. When we managed the ball and the tempo, we were in control. This is the type of team we're going to see in league so we'll hopefully learn from this and grow."

Another positive is the emergence of Snyder, who had 14 points and seven rebounds in the nightcap against Lakeside. Hammitt led the way with 19. Despite the doubleheader, Ponderosa overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to outscore Lakeside 38-24 in the second half.

REPORTED SCORES/STANDINGS: Here are all the reported scores, heading into the final day of pool play. Championship games, times and sites will be decided tonight after the final games, which should end approximately at 8:30 p.m.

MaxPreps Invitational Division
Standings
Pool A: Mater Dei 2-0, Burbank 1-1, Dorsey 1-1, Foothill 0-2
Pool B: Lincoln 2-0, Harvard-Westlake 2-0, Bishop Manogue 0-2, Skyline 0-2

Wednesday
Mater Dei 81, Dorsey 36
Harvard-Westlake 92, Bishop Manogue 54
Lincoln 48, Skyline 39
Burban 65, Foothill 53

Photo by David Hood

Mater Dei's Xavier Johnson scores two of his 20 points in an easy win over Dorsey on Wednesday.

Tuesday
Harvard-Westlake 70, Skyline 58
Mater Dei 75, Burbank 42
Lincon 83, Bishop Manogue 26
Dorsey 60, Fooothill 59

Today's games

Dorsey vs. Burban at College of Desert, 4 p.m
Mater Dei vs. Foothill at Cathedral City, 5:30 p.m.
Bishop Manogue vs. Skyline at College of Desert, 5:30 p.m.
Harvard-Westlake vs. Lincoln at Cathedral City, 7 p.m.

Desertheatteamshop.com Classic Division
Standings
Pool C: Pleasant Grove (Calif.) 2-0, Rancho Cucamonga 1-1, Simi Valley 1-1, Pleasant Grove (Utah) 0-2
Pool D: King 2-0, Crescenta Valley 2-0, Silverado 0-2, Canoga Park 0-2

Wednesday
Pleasant Grove (Calif.) 73, Simi Valley 45
King 78, Silverado 68
Crescenta Valley 85, Canoga Park 45
Rancho Cucamonga 58, Pleasant Grove (Utah) 39

Tuesday

Pleasant Grove (Calif.) 64, Pleasant Grove (Utah) 47
King 91, Canoga Park 31
Crescenta Valley 67, Silverado 60
Simi Valley 51, Rancho Cucamonga 48

Today's games

Silverado vs. Canoga Park at Marywood Palm Valley, 11:30 a.m.
Crescenta Valley vs. King at Cathedral City, 2:30 p.m.
Pleasant Grove (Utah) vs. Simi Valley at Marywood PV, 4 p.m.
Rancho Cucamonga vs. Pleasant Grove (Calif.) at Marywood PV, 5:30 p.m.

National Division
Standings
Pool E: Capistrano Valley 2-0, Crenshaw 2-0, Galena 0-2, Central 0-2
Pool F: Santiago 2-0, Green Valley 1-1, Vista Del Lago 1-1, Sweetwater 0-2

Wednesday
Santiago 72, Sweetwater 51
Vista Del Lago 61, Green Valley 50
Crenshaw 67, Galena 53
Capistrano Valley 76, Central 41

Tuesday
Capistrano Valley 63, Galena 35
Green Valley 81, Sweetwater 74
Crenshaw 71, Central 16
Santiago 69, Vista Del Lago 51

Today's games
Santiago vs. Green Valley at Cathedral City, 1 p.m.
Capistrano Valley vs. Crenshaw at Cathedral City, 4 p.m.
Sweetwater vs. Vista Del Lago at Palm Springs HS, 4 p.m.
Central vs. Galena at Palm Springs HS, 5:30 p.m.

American Division
Standings
Pool G: El Camino 2-0, Torrance 2-0, Victory Valley 0-2, Perris 0-2
Pool H: Thousand Oaks 2-0, Dana Hills 2-0, Palms 0-2, Colton 0-2

Wednesday
El Camino 74, Perris 53
Torrance 82, Victor Valley 52
Dana Hills 50, Colton 28
Thousand Oaks 58, 29 Palms 46

Tuesday
Torrance 48, Perris 45
Dana Hills 62, 29 Palms 24
Thousand Oaks 81, Colton 44
El Camino 69, Victor Valley 39

Today's games
Thousand Oaks vs. Dana Hills at Cathedral City, 11:30 a.m.
Colton vs. 29 Palms at Palm Springs HS, 1 p.m.
Victory Valley vs. Perris at Palm Springs HS, 2:30 p.m.
Torrance vs. El Camino at Marywood Palm Valley HS, 7 p.m.

rhvuniforms.com California Division
Standings
Pool I: Ponderosa 2-0, Cathedral city 1-1, Lakeside 1-1, Santa Ana Valley 0-2
Pool J: Viewpoint 2-0, Fairmont Prep 1-1, Shadow Hills 0-1, Sierra Pacific 0-1

Wednesday
Ponderosa 56, Lakeside 52
Viewpoint 67, Fairmont Prep 66
Cathedral City 72, Santa Ana Valley 53
Shadow Hills vs. Sierra Pacific, not reported

Tuesday
Viewpoint 65, Shadow Hills 46
Ponderosa 59, Santa Ana Valley 31
Fairmont Prep 51, Sierra Pacific 28
Lakeside 80, Cathedral City 56

Today's games
Lakeside vs. Santa Ana Valley, 1 p.m.
Cathedral City vs. Ponderosa at Marywood PV HS, 2:30 p.m.
Fairmont Prep vs. Shadow Hills at Shadow Hills HS, 4 p.m.
Sierra Pacific vs. Viewpoint at College of Desert, 7 p.m.

Yardhouse Southern California Division
Standings
Pool K: Moorpark 2-0, A.B. Miller 1-1, Brawley 1-1, Sultana 0-2
Pook L: Edison 2-0, Los Osos 1-1, Patriot 1-1, Desert Hot Springs 0-2

Wednesday
Los Osos 58, Patriot 50
Brawley 60, A.B. Miller 48
Moorpark 65, Sultana 23
Eidson 69, Desert Hot Springs 24

Tuesday
Edison 54, Los Osos 32
Patriot 64, Desert Hot Springs 34
A.B. Miller 64, Sultana 53
Moorpark 87, Brawley 47

Today's games
Edison vs. Patriot at Cathedral City, 10 a.m.
Sultana vs. Brawley at College of Desert, 11:30 a.m.
Desert Hot Springs vs. Los Osos at College of Desert, 1 p.m.
Moorpark vs. A.B. Miller at College of Desert, 2:30 p.m.