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Lady Huskies North Bound

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By Gary Montgomery

Ontario – The Citizens Business Bank Arena clock hit zero and the J.W. North bench rushed toward center court to begin traditional winner’s dog-pile. The Huskies had just beaten a tough Santa Ana Foothill team 57-49 to claim the CIF Division II Southern California Regional Championship for the first time in the programs history.

North’s rags to riches story has been well chronicled since the start of the playoffs. Coming off a 4-21 season just one year ago and getting to this lofty position is miraculous indeed. But, the real story lies in the way they did it.

“Our strategy was to give them 42 minutes pressure rather than 32 minutes and I knew that would give us a better chance to win the game,” said North coach Leonard DeCoud. North’s plan worked to near perfection. The Huskies trapped the ball at every opportunity forcing the Knights into an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers for the game and a 9-point lead for North (26-17) late in the first half.

However, the Huskies lead dwindled to 26-24 at the half and the two teams played the third quarter dead even as the Knights started to adjust to North’s relentless pressure. Foothill took the lead early in the fourth for the first time and suddenly the momentum started to shift away from the Huskies.

With fouls starting to mount and North holding a slim lead, the game took a turn for the worst. The Knights had started attacking the basket on every possession to capitalize on North’s foul troubles. With 4:24 left in the game, Priscilla Brooks (17-points, 10 rebounds) fouled out of the game.

“It felt a lot like Anaheim again all over, but I knew we were playing a little bit better than we were down there so I felt like my team could pull it off and win the game,” said Brooks. Priscilla was referring to the CIF finals game against Lynwood. Brooks fouled out of the game at nearly the exact same time and the Huskies were roiled by her loss and went on to lose that game to Lynwood.

This time the team’s reaction was completely different. In a near seamless transition, Brittany Crain moved over and manned the post position. “Once she fouled out, I moved into the position. I just had to relax and concentrate on the plays and what I had to do,” said Crain.

Unlike the CIF Title game, North picked up the slack for their leading scorer and finished the deal. Although there were tense moments down the stretch as Foothill’s Dayanara Armenta hit a 3-pointer with 1:57 left to pull the Knights to 51-49. But, that’s when Brittany Crain tapped a ball loose from a Foothill player that lead to a Kamille Diaz layup to make the score 53-49 and the Knights (28-6) would not score again.

Saturday’s victory gave the Lady Huskies the program’s first Regional title and a ticket to the state championship where North will square off against San Jose Archbishop Mitty in Sacramento’s Power Pavilion (Formerly Arco Arena) at 6 pm on Saturday.

Archbishop Mitty stunned perennial NorCal power house and three-time state champion St. Mary’s of Stockton 53-51 on Saturday. The Monarchs (23-5) won the Division II state title in 2008 beating Mira Costa-Manhattan Beach.

Making their first ever appearance in the State finals against the experienced Monarchs will certainly be the biggest challenge North has faced this year. But, since they have found a way to conquer all of their other challenges it’s a good bet that they can do it again. And, if they can’t get it done, their effort will certain make Southern California proud.

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

Brown, Buffs Win Pac 12 Champion

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By Gary Montgomery,

BVN Staff Writer

In its inaugural season, the first ever Pac-12 Basketball Championship began with little hype. The Pac 12 conference has not yet garnered much respect in the big time world of college basketball. With UCLA, the legendary powerhouse struggling to stay barely above the 500 mark, its morass likely shapes national perception of the entire conference.

However, it could be argued based on the conference’s overall record that it’s much better than perceived. With six twenty win teams in the conference and at least five of those on the NCAA tournament bubble; I would say the Pac 12 is in relatively good shape.

The Washington Huskies (21-10; 14-4 Pac-12) entered the tournament as the conference’s regular season winner, favorite to win and likely NCAA tournament invitee. However, Oregon State upset the Huskies in the first round leaving the championship to be decided between the remainder of the field. For the 15 or 20 of us who actually fill out Pac 12 bracket, Arizona, Cal and Stanford became the top picks. Cal quickly dispatched Stanford setting up a semi-finals showdown with the #6 seeded Colorado Buffalos led by former Riverside King Star Carlon Brown.

Brown, a 6’5” senior shooting guard played three seasons at Utah before transferring to Colorado for his senior season. He was the Buff’s leading scorer during the regular season averaging 12.6 Points per game. Teaming with freshman Spencer Dinwiddie in the backcourt, Brown willed the Buffs to a 21-10 season record and its #6 seed in the first ever Pac 12 basketball championships.

“We need him on the floor. Obviously, he’s been feeling it offensively. Carlon is playing with a sense of urgency that we need right now and I think it’s infectious and obviously it has infected the rest of our guys,” said Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. Entering the tournament, Brown raised his game to a completely new level averaging 15 points per game throughout the tournament and nearly two double-doubles. And more importantly, Brown seemed to rescue his squad countless times when need arose.

“Yes, my teammates depend on me, that’s what I was recruited here for to replace a departing senior and provide veteran leadership and do whatever necessary to help this team be successful,” said Brown after beating the #2 seeded Cal Bears.

Brown brought down the house down in the closing minutes of the Cal win with an unscripted windmill dunk off a turnover. “That’s something I’ve done before, so it wasn’t that exciting for me. I just knew I wanted to put an exclamation on the game and make sure we won and I wasn’t going to be lackadaisical, so I just attacked the basket and jumped with all my might.“ Brown’s dunk sent the raucous Buffalo student section into a rage as they continued with continuous series of chants for the entire game.

Colorado beat Utah, Oregon, Cal and finally Arizona to win the first Pac 12 Basketball Championship tournament. As tournament champions, the Buffalos earned a guaranteed bid in the NCAA tournament. Colorado will begin play on Thursday against UNLV in the opening round of the South Regional.

The Buffalos have certainly been rewarded by Browns excellent play. NBA analyst, Charles Barkley raved at Brown’s skill level and leadership, saying he has most definitely raised his NBA draft stock.

Consider this quite the complement coming from Barkley who seldom praises young players. It will be a difficult task for the Buffalos to maintain the high level of play needed to fight through the tough South Bracket with teams like Baylor, Indiana and #1 Kentucky in the standing in the way.

No matter what the outcome from here on, Carlon has already shown “what Brown can do for you”. G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

North Girls So Close in CIF title Game

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Lady Huskies rally from 20 down but still come up short, Lynwood 66 North 55

By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –

J.W. North’s girls basketball team returned to the CIF Championships this weekend after a 12 year absence. The Huskies won their only CIF title in 2000.

This year’s return trip was a surprise to everyone but the Huskies. “When I got to North, I asked the girls what they wanted to do, they said we want to go to the championship and I said to them let’s do it then,” said North coach Leonard DeCoud.

For the Huskies, it’s truly about the journey. Coming off a 4-21 season just one short year ago, North’s accomplishments are nothing short of miraculous.

Yes, I know the goal is to win it all but sometimes you win by just getting there.

As the league’s bottom team last season, North leaped to a second place finish in the Big VIII this year and with that earned themselves a number 3 seed in the CIF Playoffs putting them only four wins away from their goal of playing in the CIF Championships.

The Lady Huskies sliced through their playoff bracket beating Yucaipa, Cypress, Thousand Oaks and Ventura outscoring their opponents 280-156 to earn a finals showdown with the Lynwood Lady Knights.

Although North was the number 3 seed and Lynwood the 5 seed, the Lady Knights entered the contest seeking their school’s seventh CIF girls basketball title clearly an advantage in terms of experience.

North struggled with its consistency early but managed to finish the first quarter tied with the Lady Knights at 14-14. The second quarter proved to be a disaster for the Huskies and the eventual difference in the game. North was outscored 18-6 in the second quarter and found themselves trailing 32-20 by halftime.

“We weren’t playing as a team. We just weren’t all awake and we had to keep talking to everybody and trying to pick them up,” said North Point Guard Simone DeCoud.

DeCoud’s wakeup call was answered. As if they were responding to a fire alarm, the Lady Huskies came out in the second half with a furious defensive effort. With its defense leading the way North went on an all out tear cutting the Lady Night’s lead to only two points (53-51) with 3:25 left in the game. With the crowd and the momentum behind them and their opponent reeling, the Lady Huskies seemed poised to take the lead and secure its second title when disaster struck.

With 2:52 left in the game, North’s leading scorer, Pricilla Brooks (18 points) was called for her final foul putting a serious damper on the Huskies run.

With Brooks gone, the Lady Knights regained control of the paint and finished the game at the free throw line.

Lynwood scored 22 points from the free throw line making 22 of 29 while the Huskies were only 6 of 13 from the charity stripe.

Clearly, free throw shooting and a poor second quarter led to the Huskies undoing.

“I think we may have gotten a little complacent after we got on top early,” said North’s Coach Leonard DeCoud. “And late in the game we got a little impatient and we had some rushed shots.”

Irrespective of the loss, North can be proud of the team’s accomplishment to this point. Going into the State playoff with the knowledge that a single quarter of poor play was the only thing between them and a CIF title should help them solve that problem in the future.

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

Don't Miss The Fun This Thursday Night

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Professional Formula D Driver, Joon Woo Maeng, will be bringing out his Lucas Oil Nitto Tire S13 for some exciting drifting action at Adams Motorsports Park tonight. Joon is a dedicated and passionate driver, who has won over the hearts of drift fans since his drifting career began in 2007.

Joon will be giving VIP ride alongs for the Lucas Oil Family, Nitto Tire Family and all his partners who will also be in attendance for some exhilarating drift action Thursday night.

Adams Motorsports Park located in Riverside is the hottest spot for drifting, the fastest growing motorsport.

You can join the party every Thursday night, as hundreds of spectators turn out to watch Lucas Oil Nitto Tire Driver Joon Maeng Drifts At Adams Motorsports Park grassroots drivers drift alongside professional Formula D drivers. If watching isn’t enough for you, you can go for a ride along with any of the drivers, enjoy the live DJ, contests, and great food. You’ve never seen drifting the way it is done at Adams.

“It’s an honor to be involved with Adam’s Motorsports Park and looking forward to seeing you all at AMP! It’s going to be a fun night!! Make sure to stop by our pit area to pick up a photo of the Lucas Oil Nitto Tires S13 card and try out the Lucas Oil Slick Mister / Tire Shine on your vehicles,” commented Joon Maeng.

Enter to win a free ride along in the Lucas Oil Nitto Tire S13! Details are posted on Facebook. com/JoonMaengRacing

NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Appointed Global Cultural Ambassador

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By Leland Stein, III –

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continues to craft himself as a noteworthy proponent of education. Recently he was appointed by Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, with President Barrack Obama’s blessing, global cultural ambassador.

In his new State Department role he will engage young people worldwide.

The Hall of Famer and NBA career-scoring leader will promote the importance of education, social and racial tolerance, cultural understanding and using sports as a means of empowerment.

"It's a great honor and I'm thrilled that they see me as the person that could get this done," Abdul-Jabbar told reporters.

The 64-year-old said he remembers a similar program under President John F. Kennedy where speakers came to his school in Harlem.

"So now I get to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes," he said. “I remember my hero Louis Armstrong being in this position. Wow, I am elated with this opportunity to continue in my passion for young people and education.” Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs said Abdul-Jabbar will travel the world to engage a generation of young people to help promote diplomacy.

Stock said Tuesday the appointment is part of Clinton's vision of "Smart Power" that combines diplomacy, defense, and development to "bridge the gap in a tense world through young people."

Abdul-Jabbar said he would share his take on life in America adding: "I'll be doing a few basketball clinics, too."

He made his first official trip recently when he traveled to Brazil for a number of events centering on education.

"I look forward to meeting with young people all over the world and discussing ways in which we can strengthen our understanding of one another through education, through sports, and through greater cultural tolerance," he said. “On my first trip to Brazil, it was amazing to talk to young people and share the gift of knowledge that comes with education, not only in books, but life learnings.”

Since his retirement in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar has been involved in projects focused on African-American history and socio-economic justice. His 2011 documentary, "On the Shoulders of Giants," sought to highlight these issues. He has also launched the Skyhook Foundation, which works to improve children's lives through education and sports.

Last year, he received the Lincoln Medal for his commitment to education, understanding, and equality and his contributions that exemplify President Abraham Lincoln's legacy.

His latest book, "What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors," was released earlier this month.

He says Clinton told him: "In Brazil, they would be shocked to find out Black Americans were so much involved inventing so many useful items that we use today.”

“And indeed they were shocked to learn about their history which in fact is very similar to our history," Abdul-Jabbar said after his trip to Brazil. “I am excited and honored to serve my country as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. The trip to Brazil indeed showed me that this position has merit and can honestly be used for the enhancement of others cultural perspective. I continued to look forward to meeting with young people all over the world and discussing ways in which we can strengthen our understanding of one another through education, through sports, and through greater cultural tolerance.”

Like Muhammad Ali, being a Muslim should only break down even more barriers as he moves in and out of world communities.

The legendary former UCLA star scored 38,387 points during his 20-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and at Twitter at LelandSteinIII

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