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Arizona’s NCAA Storybook Run Ended by UConn in Regionals

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By Jon D. Gaede, BVN Sports –

The Arizona Wildcats, loaded with Southern California talent, needed more last minute heroic result, to earn a trip to Houston and the Final Four.

After handling the number one seeded, reigning National Champion Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night, Arizona joined Butler and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) as unlikely teams to win their regions.

Derek Williams, the sophomore forward from La Mirada was the Pac 10 ‘Player of the Year’ for Arizona. To reach the Western Regional Final, Williams poured in 32 points and brought down 13 rebounds in an impressive 93-77 victory over Duke. Kyle Fogg, the junior guard form Brea-Olinda H.S. added 14 in the victory.

In order to get to the Final Four, the Wildcats would have to beat powerhouse UConn and Kemba Walker. CBS and a national television audience were the winners as Arizona produced another highly competitive, never say die effort.

Down 44-38 at halftime, the Wildcats had some key players, to include Williams in foul trouble. Arizona caught the Huskies and went ahead 55-54 with six minutes to play. What looked like Arizona momentum, turned into turnovers, whistles and a few athletic baskets by UConn’s All American, Kemba Walker.

With 12 seconds on the clock and possession, Derrek Williams and Jamelle Horn each launched shots from threepoint range that missed. The partisan Arizona crowd was stunned, their magical run had ended 65-63.

UConn will now travel the toughest road as they face Kentucky in the Final Four in Houston.

Area Hoops Stars Head to State Championships

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By Gary Montgomery, Staff Writer –

The Inland Empire was well represented at the California Interscholastic Federation’s Southern Section Regional Basketball Championship playoff semi-finals on Saturday.

The crowd of 8,169 at the Galen Center on USC’s Campus was treated to a full day of exciting high school hoops and a plethora of future college stars. Every game was competitive and a few provided endings worthy of March Madness lore.

Four Inland area schools made it to the Southern Section Final vying for a chance to represent the Southern Section next week in Sacramento and hopefully win a coveted California State Championship.

Rialto High Girls, Summit High School Boys, Canyon Springs Girls and Corona Centennial Boys all battled their way to Saturday’s Southern Section Finals.

First up, the Division II Rialto High Girls (32-3), San Andreas League and CIF-SS Champions took on Channel League Champion Ventura Buena (26-7). After running out to an 18 -12 lead over Buena, the Knights went cold and led at the half by only 3 points at 18-15. The second half continued much the same way until late in the fourth quarter when Rialto had seemingly taken control of the game. The Knights had a 5- point lead with 4:38 left to play when fouling fever struck the Knights sending Buena’s best player, Keani Albanez to the free throw line on three consecutive possessions and flipping the lead to 40-42 Buena. With only 15 seconds remaining in the game and Buena only one stop away from victory, Rialto’s Janaè Sharp slashed between Buena defenders and made a driving layup to tie the score at 42-42.

Buena got the inbound pass to a wide open Albanez streaking toward the basket for an open lay-up when a collision with Rialto’s Summer Webb resulted in a controversial offensive foul call and giving the ball back to Rialto with .02 seconds left. After a time out, Britanni Walker launched a pass up court as if she were throwing it to the basket, when suddenly, out of nowhere, streaking in from the sidelines, Janaè Sharp ran away from her defender, angled toward the ball, caught it on the bounce and pulled up for an 8’ foot runner that went straight thought the net for a 42-40 win and a trip Sacramento on Friday. “We tried to run a decoy for Janaè because we knew they would try to box her in but we were fortunate and surprised that we got just what we wanted,” said Rialto Head Coach Michael Anderson. The Knights will play St Mary’s Stockton Friday Night at Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) for the Division II State Title.

Next up were the Summit Skyhawks 27-7 against San Diego Lincoln (31-1) for the Boys Division II Title. The high flying Skyhawks making their first ever appearance at the section finals showed the typical nervousness of appearing forthe first time. Lincoln led the Skyhawks 22-12 at the end of the first and 37-28 at the half. Things weren’t getting any better for Summit still down 56-48 at the end of the third. However, the Skyhawks had an unexpected surprise for the Hornets in the fourth. Led by their incredibly athletic front line the Skyhawks shut down San Diego’s offense and won the game 74-69 earning a trip to the State Finals.

Summit will play Arch Bishop Mitty Friday evening at Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) for the Division II State Championship.

With the IE on a 2-2 roll it was the Canyon Springs Girls turn. The Lady Cougars (30-3) led by their senior star Tear’a Laudermill and sporting the best season in school history were making their second appearance in the Regional finals taking on perennial powerhouse Santa Ana Mater Dei. The Cougars stayed close early trailing 19-12 at the end of the first quarter but managing to claw their way to a mere 1-point deficit at half-time down 25-24. But the second half belonged to the bigger stronger Mater Dei team led by Uconn bound Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ 23 points quickly made the adjustments and were simply too strong for the Cougars. The Monarchs outscored Canyon Springs 34- 20 in the second half and won the game 59-44 in their 7th appearance in the Regional finals. Mater Dei will play Berkeley on Saturday evening at Power Balance Pavillion (formerly Arco Arena).

Last up and task with getting the IE back on a winning track was the Corona Centennial Huskies (30-4) against perennial boy’s powerhouse Mater Dei (30-3). Led by its incredibly talented scoring duo of point guard Michael Caffey and guard/forward Dominic Dunning, the Huskies used a swarming defense to hold the Monarchs down for the first quarted scratching out a 3-point lead after the first quarter and a 34- 27 lead at the half. The Huskies played an inspiring first half but Mater Dei outscored Corona 20-8 in the third quarter and went on to win the game 76-64 and move on to the State Championship game on Saturday evening in Sacramento. Powerful Mater Dei simply has too much of everything and most public schools like the Huskies don’t have the depth to last against the Monarchs. With an18 player roster and at least 10 qualified starters, they are simply wearing down most teams.

The Huskies have nothing to be down about. They represented their school and community with dignity and were an awful lot of fun to watch. And frankly, I am sure that this is not the last time we will see Coach Josh Giles and his team in the finals.

Gmontgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

Canyons Springs High School Girls Basketball Team's - Biggest Win Ever

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By Gail Hale –

Most people consider Canyon Springs girls basketball a team with mediocre talent, boy did they prove every one wrong in their recent victory over Brea Olinda the #2 ranked team in the nation. Not only did they beat them by 10 points, this defeat took place at their own gym. Brea beat Canyon by 19 at the convention center two weeks ago. What was different on that day?

Confidence... The cougars had a disadvantage but that did not stop the efforts of senior point guard Tear'a Laudermill who is headed to the University Of Nebraska , her leadership and 17 points helped Canyon to never look back. Another key senior Sophia Ederaine, who is University Of San Diego bound, blocked the ball almost everytime players came inside the key, junior Jasmine Johnson scored 20 points and showed her presents on the board with 9 rebounds. Freshman Cheyenne Greenhouse added 17 points and the rest of the team did their part to bring Canyon to a 63-53 upset.

The Cougars will now advance to the Southern Section State Finals at USC Galen Center on Saturday the 19th of March. Canyon is now ranked as the top 1 or 2 team in the Southern California Section coached.

Bengals Wide Receiver Ochocinco to Try Out for MLS Team

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(Reuters) - Chad Ochocinco, one of the NFL's top wide-receivers, will have a trial with Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City next week, the team said on Wednesday.

Six-time Pro Bowl selection Ochocinco, who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, responded to news of the NFL's lockout of players on Saturday by suggesting on twitter he would like to switch sports and play for Sporting.

The team have responded by inviting him for a four-day trial starting on Tuesday.

"Due to the NFL lockout I am excited to be able to follow my childhood dream of playing for a Major League Soccer team," the 33-year-old said in a statement released by Sporting KC.

Ochocinco has previously posted pictures of himself with top soccer players such as Brazilians Ronaldinho and Kaka on the internet, visited Real Madrid and regularly comments on soccer games.

Sporting coach Peter Vermes said he was interested to see how Ochocinco would turn his athleticism into ability on the soccer field.

"We are always searching for players who can help our team and bringing in new talent. We know that Chad is an exceptional athlete and loves the sport of soccer and he did play a lot when he was younger.

"We are excited to see how his skills will translate once he arrives next week and begins training with our team," he said.

The team said they would decide after the trial whether or not to extend Ochocinco's time with the club.

He was born in Miami as Chad Johnson but changed his name in 2008 to reflect a Spanish language version of his shirt number 85.

The NFL and the players' union are heading to court on April 6 where an anti-trust case will be heard following the breakdown in talks over a new collective agreement.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Rialto Lady Knights Crowned CIF Champions

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By Jon D. Gaede –

Led by senior guard Janae Sharpe (23 points), the Rialto Lady Knights girls team accomplished something that no Rialto High School basketball team has before, a coveted CIF Championship, 55-53.

Rialto earned the No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern Section 2AA Division. The 30-3 Lady Knights disposed of Santa Margarita, Norco, and Inglewood to reach the CIF final. They drew Buena High School of Ventura on Saturday night for the title.

The girls from Buena were taller at forward and center, but Rialto’s up tempo game exposed a weakness in their defense. Aggressive play from Brittani Walker and Janae Sharpe put the Lady Knights up 14-8 and left the Buena Bulldogs blinded by Rialto’s team speed.

The game remained close when Rialto’s Janae Sharpe (Northridge) decided to will her team on. Sharp, who averages 24 points per game is the ultimate play-maker. Like another coach on the floor, she handles the ball well, makes good decisions and is fearless.

Trailing 50-46, late into the fourth quarter, the Lady Knights needed something special. Summer Webb (18 points) made a long three point shot to tie the game at 49. The back and fourth final minute was punctuated by another Janae Sharpe steal and a poetic coast to coast lay-up to break a 53-53 tie.

Sharp’s basket, as time ran out, put the Lady Knights up by two, securing their first CIF title 55-53.

By virtue of their victory, the Rialto Lady Knights will host the next round of the State playoffs at home on Thursday night.

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