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Huskies Fall Short in Section Finals

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By Gary Montgomery, Sports Editor –

Corona Centennial’s Boys Basketball Team represented the Inland Empire with dignity and the level of competitive fire we have come to expect from the area’s top high school sports programs. But, in the end, the task was just too great for the Huskies when Long Beach Poly’s Ryan Anderson pulled down 21 rebounds and scored 18 points to give Poly its 18th Southern Section Title and spoiled the Huskies’ bid for their first.

After knocking off perennial powerhouse Mater Dei on Thursday, Centennial Head Coach Josh Giles needed to dialup the best game plan of his career to keep the Jackrabbits from their 29th win of the season.

“Basketball is about taking something away, so we wanted to take away the inside and make them have to take the outside shots. But, they were making those outside shots and that made it almost impossible for us,” said Giles after the Game. “We wanted to make them into a jump shooting team,” continued Giles.

Poly’s front line was just too big for the Huskies. Led by Boston College bound Ryan Anderson, Poly’s domination on the glass was simply the difference. The 6’8” Senior forward had 8 offensive rebounds giving his team an 18 to 6 advantage on the offensive boards.

On the defensive end, Ryan’s 13 boards gave the Jackrabbits a 25 to 10 advantage on that end of the floor.

Huskies Senior Point Guard, Michael Caffey led all Centennial scorers with 17 points along with 7 assists.

“I had some opportunities to get into the lane and kick it out early. I thought we might build on that but they tightened up their defense and that wasn’t there anymore,” said Caffey.

Although Caffey, the Long Beach State bound senior point was the engine that drove the Huskies, Gelaun Wheelwright had 13 points and Dominique Dunning had 10 points. The Huskies were undersized and short-handed, playing only six players.

With 11 seniors on the team it could take a while to regroup but given the recent history of Centennials sports program, it’s a safe bet that they will be back.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

Serena Williams Back Home After Blood Clot Treatment

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(Reuters) - Serena Williams was recovering at her Los Angeles home after undergoing emergency treatment for a blood clot in one of her lungs, the former world number one confirmed on Wednesday.

"This has been extremely hard, scary, and disappointing," Williams said in a statement. "I am doing better, I'm at home now and working with my doctors to keep everything under control."

The 29-year-old Williams was photographed on Sunday at an Academy Awards party in Hollywood but fell ill the following day and was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where she underwent surgery.

Doctors discovered the blood clot after Williams travelled to New York last week for a treatment on a foot injury that has sidelined her for eight months, according to her spokeswoman Nicole Chabot.

"Serena did indeed suffer from a pulmonary embolism last week and the hematoma was another unexpected scare," Chabot said. "Thankfully everything was caught in time. With continued doctor visits to monitor her situation, she is recuperating at home under strict medical supervision."

Williams has not played competitively since winning last year's Wimbledon championship. Shortly after the victory she cut her foot on broken glass at a restaurant in Germany.

The American has had two operations on her foot since then and was preparing to return to training soon in the hope of making a comeback in Miami later this month.

Williams has won 13 grand slam singles titles but has slipped from number one to 11th on the world rankings during her extended absence and now faces an uncertain future.

"I know I will be OK but am praying and hoping this will all be behind me soon," she said. "While I can't make any promises now on my return, I hope to be back by early summer. That said, my main goal is to make sure I get there safely."

Belgium's Kim Clijsters, the new world number one, posted a message of support to Williams on her Twitter account shortly after landing at a New Jersey airport with her daughter Jada. "Just read about Serena!!!! Very scary, hope she is ok!fingers crossed!" she tweeted.

Embolisms, often caused when blood clots form in the legs or arm then travel toward the leg and hearts, are usually treated by blood thinners.

"Athletes travel a lot. Air travel and prolonged sitting in one spot can lead to blood clots," said Dr Mark Adelman, director of Vascular Surgery and member of the Cardiac & Vascular Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center.

"If a person has a pulmonary embolism they would need to be on an anti-coagulant like Coumadin for six to 12 months.

"They would be able to play sports and be back on the court with an anti-coagulant. If the clot comes back the patient may need an implanted filter device to catch future blood clots."

(Additional reporting by Matt Cronin; Editing by Frank Pingue)

Celebrities, dunks and more from L.A.

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By Leland Stein III –

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a festival for the fans and is an interactive smorgasbord of celebrity sightings, parties, the Jam Session for the youth, three-point and slam dunk contest, and, oh yes, there is the game.

With this year’s NBA All-Star Week in Los Angeles, the Hollywood flavor was in full affect.

It seemed to me that every rapper, musicians and movie stars was at one of the many NBA All-Star Week events.

I’ve seen this All-Star week evolve over 17 years and it seems to keep getting bigger and bigger, no matter that many in the media enjoys singing the woe is the league song concerning their interaction with their players.

Having covered Super Bowls and MLB, none of the other sports come close to have the celebrities attach themselves to the sport. I’m sure the face time that comes with being in a intimate arena versus large stadiums have something to do with it, but many that I interviewed ready know the game and genuinely like basketball.

Only boxing at the high championship level even comes close to attracting the celebrities to its marquee events.

I sighted at Staples Center Maria Shriver and son Christopher Schwarzenegger. Also in the house were Rhianna, Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Josh Groban, Keri Hilson, George Lopez, Steven Tyler, Dustin Hoffman, P. Diddy Jason Sudeikis, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Snoop, Venus Williams, Run DMC, Common, Zachary Levi, Piers Morgan, Gabrielle Union, Chris Tucker, Steve Harvey, Rob Reiner, Michael Rappaport, Jack Nicholson, and JZ and Beyounce, just to mention a few I saw.

It was also great to see the NBA honor at halftime three of the greatest female basketball players ever.

They were brought to center court and looked beautiful. WNBA Legends Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson are all Olympians also.

All four Boston Celtic All-Stars were booed mightily all game long, but when Hall of Famer Bill Russell was brought to center court during the game, he received a standing ovation for becoming the first NBA player to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I was shocked by the Slam Dunk Contest. The four young men Washington Wizards 7-footer JaVale McGee, Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder Serge Ibaka were all spectacular.

Any one of the three could have won the slam dunk contest. The first round everyone put up some of the most creative dunks I have seen in attempted.

I know I’m getting old when one of the Lady’s I use to cover while she was at USC and in the WNBA had her son participate in the event.

Not only did her son a compete, JaVale in my mind produced the most crazy dunks I have ever seen.

Dunking on two separate baskets and then throwing down three basketballs . . . all I could saw was, “Wow!”

And that is not to say that winner Griffin did not wreck shop, because he did. He soared, flew, spun and powered the ball down through the basket. He hung on the rim by his elbow and he dunked over a car. Griffin has posterized a number of players this season, but this time it was a car. Jumping over the hood he took a lob through the sun roof from Clippers teammate Baron Davis and produced the winning slam.

A couple days before the game the 2011 BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was contested.

Bieber, along with rappers Romeo, Common, Kim Kardashian’s brother, Rob Kardashian, Trey Songz, Rappaport and Nick Cannon, took part in the exhibition.

The game was between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The West was Bieber’s team, coached by Magic Johnson.

The Eastern team was coached by Bill Walton. Basketball superstars Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Rick Fox, Jalen Rose, Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Swin Cash played in the game.

The western team lost in a final score of 54-49, but that didn’t stop 16-year-old Justin Bieber from being named MVP. His legion of fans voted him MVP. “I know Pippen was the MVP,” Bieber said.

“My fans are crazy and they got online and voted. We all were just having a good time.”

Leland S tein III can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com.

The All-Star Oscar Goes to Bryant

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By Leland Stein III –

The 60th annual NBA All-Star game did not set a Guinness World Record of 108,713 basketball fans from around the globe like the 2010 game did at Cowboys Stadium last year.

Instead 17,163, including a celebrity filled contingent, descended on Staple Center in Downtown Los Angeles and were not disappointed, as their favorite son, fivetime NBA Finals champion Kobe Bryant helped his Western Conference teammates avenge the Eastern Conference’s 141-139 victory in the 2010 game.

From the start of the 2011 contest Bryant, who missed last year's game in Dallas with an ankle injury, was a step faster and seemed more determined than anyone else on the floor.

By halftime he had tossed in 21 points, and by game’s end he had 37 points and 14 rebounds in the Western Conference's 148-143 victory.

The NBA’s younger generation of players are starting to prove that the league is in good shape on the floor, but Bryant, a 15-year veteran, reminded all the there is still a lot of juice in his legs. Making his 13th NBA all-star appearance, but playing his last All-Star Game in Los Angeles, he joined Bob Pettit as the only other player to win four All-Star Game MVP trophies after winning the honor Sunday night.

"I feel like we have a sense of responsibility,” Bryant said, “because we are voted in for what we do during the season, which is play hard. And we come here, that's what the fans want to see. They want to see us go at it and see us compete and that's what I try to do and that's what I try to tell my teammates to do.

"Being home, I wanted to come out and play hard, put on a good show. This being my last all-star game in front of these fans, it feels good. Sure this is made more special for that reason . . . I understand it will not be back before I retire.”

Said Chris Paul: “Kobe was outstanding. I talked to him before the game and told him let’s go. He is a lot like me . . . an ultimate competitor. I know the All-Star games are supposed to be fun and games, but at the end of the day we want to win.”

Bryant tied Kevin Garnett for the fourth-highest scoring game in all-star history, and moved into fourth place on the career all-star scoring list with 244 points. Bryant said he was aware he was closing in on Wilt Chamberlain's single-game record of 42 points, but didn't have the legs to finish the fourth period after throwing down four dunks. "Man I had nothing left," Bryant said. "I exceeded my dunk quota for the game."

Bryant was also involved in the play of the games, as he dribbled up the court and looked over to his right, where LeBron James was sprinting back to implement his now famous chase down block shot. Bryant picked up steam and soared toward the rim throwing down a two-handed dunk as James flew over the top.

"I wanted to see if I could avoid the LeBron chase down," Bryant said, with a sly grin on his face. "I told him afterwards, if I had tried to go over the rim, like get up, he probably would have blocked it with his armpit. I kind of snuck it by him."

Said James: “He was unbelievable tonight. You definitely saw his motor was going tonight."

Added Kevin Durant, who chipped in with 34 points: "It was like playing in a playground. I’ve watched him and now I play against him, but to be on his team and see the things that he was doing out there is just amazing."

Russell Westbrook, scored 12 points and Paul added 10 for the West.

After being down by as much as 16 point, James gave his East squad a firm speech. It seemed to work as the East fought back over the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter to narrow the lead to two point with under one minute left in the game.

Leading the way for the East, James produced an MVP performance finishing with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to join Michael Jordan as the only other player with a tripledouble in the All-Star game. Amare Stoudemire also scored 29 for the East, but Dwyane Wade, the MVP of the East's win last year, had to leave with an ankle injury after scoring 14 "I wish the East would've won, then my teammate with the triple-double would have stole (the MVP)," Wade said. "But (Bryant) deserved it."

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com.

Kobe shines brightest of All Stars in West victory

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(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant won a record-tying fourth All-Star Game most valuable player award as he led the Western Conference to a 148-143 victory in front of his home fans on Sunday.

Bryant electrified a celebrity-filled Staples Center crowd with an array of slam dunks and led all players with 37 points and 14 rebounds.

"I wanted to come out and play hard and put on a good show," said Bryant, who joins Bob Pettit as the only player to win four All-Star MVP trophies. "It feels great being at home here and playing in front of the home crowd."

LeBron James recorded a triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the East, which pulled to within two points with 72 seconds left to set up an intense finish after a game filled with highlight-reel dunks and trickery.

Laker Pau Gasol scored 17 points and delighted his home fans with a putback that gave the West a four-point lead with under a minute left.

NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder poured in 34 points and sealed the victory for the West with a pair of free throw with five seconds to play.

Amare Stoudemire tied a team-high with 29 points for the East, which trailed for virtually the whole game, but every player ended the night looking up at Kobe.

During one dominant sequence in the third, Bryant threw down a two-handed dunk over James then swished a quick three-pointer that drew a roar from the crowd, which included Jay-Z and Beyonce, Hall of Fame players Clyde Drexler and David Robinson as well as Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

"He wanted to win the MVP, he wasn't going to pass the ball. But that's Kobe," Stoudemire said.

The only player drawing cheers equal to Bryant's was Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, who captured the Slam Dunk Contest a day earlier and finished with eight points.

Boston, the only team to feature four players in the game, put its quartet of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo on the floor together in the first quarter and drew loud boos from the rival Los Angeles crowd.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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