SCHOLAR ATHLETE SHINES
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    Her coach Pointer Prescott has her handling the point guard duties.     The point-forward, who will be a part of the 2021 Class, has excellent court vision. This enables her to deliver timely passes. Her highlight clips are filled with throwing nearly every pass one can imagine.                     

    Often, you’ll see her sprinting the floor and finding her teammates for easy layups.  She is an active body around the basket, especially when it comes to getting loose balls and scoring on rebound-putbacks.     In other words, she isn’t afraid to mix it up against bigs.                                

   Offensively, she can put some pretty good numbers on the scoreboard.     One of her greatest assets is her ability to light the nets up from mid-range and deliver deep balls.  She isn’t going to beat anyone in a sprint to the basketball. However, she is  hard to block, especially when she seals off defenders to finish strong at the basket.  There’s been countless times when she has leaned into someone’s body to created space and finish near the rim.  She is agile, someone who gracefully weaves around defenders for pull-up jumpers on the fastbreak.   

   Defensively, her length and physicality present huge match-up problems for smaller guards. She averaged three steals per game.                     

   Although she plays point guard for her high school team, she is more likely going to be recruited as a shooting guard who can also play small forward.          Her ideal program?  She prefers a college that can utilize her size and strength.  Just as important, she wants it to fit her academic goals and career focus. The Scholar Athlete wants to major in Kinesiology to help prepare her for  a career in sports medicine.

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Taylor: Makes Her Point

        When her career ends, she is expected to be one of a multitude of guards who have graduated fully equipped to compete at the NCAA and NAIA levels.
    Coach Ellis Barfield has produced a plethora of guards from McDonald's All-American Sade Wiley-Gatewood (signed University of Tennessee, 2004) to top CIF Southern Section players like Aliza Lofton (Cal State Bakersfield, 2013) and Jazmine Johnson (Seattle University, 2014).       
    Taylor is on track to continue the tradition. Without question, Taylor is one of the best point guards in the Long Beach, Calif. area and CIF-SS.
   This season, she averages 10.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. Defensively, Taylor swarms the floor for 1.9 steals per game.
   When she is more aggressive offensively, the Knights are a vastly improved team. She lives at the free-throw line because she gets fouled frequently driving right and powers through contact for layups and tumbles to the hardwood.
   Taylor needs to be just as strong dribbling to her left side as she is her right. A stutter step to freeze defenders and blow by them would also help her game. She does need to polish her three-ball game.  Utilizing her mid-range jumper and tear-drop shots more would certainly make her less predictable.      
   Recently, in the Open Division of the CIF-SS playoffs, Taylor tallied 27 points against No. 4 seeded Mater Dei of Santa Ana (a perennial national powerhouse) and 17 points against No. 5 seeded Etiwanda, an elite CIF-SS program.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1: RAYAH SELECT USC
Girls Basketball: Hard To Miss

Here are other athletes who stood out and will likely return for the 2020-2021 season.    

 

    San Diego Mater Dei Catholic has a talented big girl in Kayanna Spriggs. Against a good Palisades team, the 6-foot-3 center was fierce in the paint, blocking and altering shots and snaring rebounds. Palisades defenders did a better job of neutralizing her in the second half of the semifinals of the SoCal Division II Regional Playoffs. Spriggs scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half but only managed to scored two points in the third quarter. She showed a soft touch around the basket and perimeter. She ran the floor well. She also had six boards.

  Niala Mitchell, a 6-foot forward, has plenty of upside. She did all the dirty work on the floor, boxing out, keeping the ball alive on teammate’s missed shots and scoring off of rebound-outbacks. She finished seven points, eight rebounds and one block shot.

   Alexis Pettis, a junior guard from Palisades High, did most her damage in the second half of the SoCal Division II Regional Playoffs.  That’s when she scored 10 of her 12 points to help the Dolphins advance to the regional finals against Santa Monica.

   Sammie Arnold’s value to Palisades High didn’t show up in the scoresheet. The junior point guard managed the floor well. She stretched the defense with a 3-ball that kept defenders on their toes.  She also played solid defense. She had five points.

  Ivy Scott, Palisades forward, had the big task of trying to keep Spriggs off the boards. She was more than capable, especially in the second half of the SoCal Regional playoffs.  She added six points, and four rebounds.

  Sophomore  Demoni Lagway of Pacific Palisades hit short-range jumpers around the paint and delivered 3-balls against a good  Mater Dei Catholic team. She kept the pressure on the Crusaders throughout the contest. She led the Dolphins with 19 points.

 Freshman Jada Webb played solid defense and kept defenders on their heels as she scored on layups and on jumpers around the key. She made clutch shots to keep the Crusaders close in the SoCal Division II Regional Playoffs against Palisades. The 5-foot-6 wing finished with 11 points.

Marhall: Top Player 2021 Class

    Lynwood High coach Ellis Barfield is up to the challenge. He is well-known for developing college level basketball players. For over a decade, he has produced a plethora of them, including two McDonald's All-Americans, which includes Sade Wiley-Gatewood (signed with Tennessee) and Anita Sanford (University of
California).
    Marshall will likely be added to the list this upcoming season if high school girls’ basketball resumes. In February, because of the Coronavirus, the 2020 season was discontinued. The CIF State Regional Finals was cancelled.
  Marshall is listed as a top 20 player by ESPN HoopGurlz.com, the premier college recruitment site for girls high school basketball.
    The point-forward is perhaps one the most athletically-gifted athletes in California.  Her length, agility and guard skills enable her to play every position on the floor. She elevates over defenders like no other in transition and in the half-court set.  In the half-court set, her mid-range game, short jumpers and rebound-outbacks are the bread and butter of the Knights’ offense.
   She needs to be more consistent with deep balls and scoring after contact.
   The Press-Telegram First-Team Dream Team selection does some of those things exceptionally well when she is engaged in the game. Sometimes, the effort doesn't seem to be there.
   This could very well be due to the fact during highly competitive games,
    Barfield can’t take her off the floor for a breather.
As of last February, she listed USC, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington as top programs seeking her services.

The small home at 51 Street resembled what should have been the scene of her junior basketball banquet than a press conference to announce her verbal commitment to the university of her choice.
    The Coronavirus prevented Lynwood from hosting its end-of-season 2020 celebration and brought a halt to the CIF State playoffs and the Spring season.
    Most of her teammates and coaches were present for Rayah’s “Decision Day.’’
    The University of Oregon's, Cal's and USC's team colors decorated various tables. Each university had its colors on potato chip bags with Rayah’s likeness on each one. Her mother had them packed inside this old-fashioned, wooden food cart with water bottles. A plethora of friends, family members, teammates, and coaches took photos of all of the sports memorabilia.
   The food tent stood near the entrance the backyard. From the corner, the DJ blared old-school, dusties, and the new urban music.
    The moment finally came when Rayah popped this huge black balloon. The gold and red confetti fluttered across the grass indicated that the point-forward had chosen USC over the other PAC-12 programs. USC Fight song blared from speakers and the Trojan logo appeared on the wide-screen TV as supporters cheered.
    Rayah’s journey to this moment in her life started as an incoming ninth-grader playing summer ball.  She stood 6-foot-1. Her forte was rebounding and rejecting shots inside. She ran the floor well and seldom looked for her own shot.  Nowadays, she’s launching 3s, igniting the fast-break and running the offense when point guard Briliyah Taylor isn’t handling those duties.
   
    

Continued from Page 1: Photojournalist Covered CIF Like A Blanket
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      Later, the family moved to Compton and he attended Lincoln Elementary School and later Whaley Jr. High. At Whaley, Larry, who had asthma, didn't let it prevent him from becoming a standout runner in the 600-meters.

  "No one was aware, at the time, but after winning the compeition, he asked his siblings not to tell anyone,'' James recalled. At Long Beach Poly, Larry became both an outstanding student-athlete and hurdler. "Larry and his fellow hurdlers accomplished an amazing feat by being invited to the Arcadia Invitational,'' James said.  "When it came to acting, Larry was able to transition into multiple roles with ease.''

  After high school, Larry attended Long Beach City College. There, he obtained his associates degree, and later enrolled at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

  Larry brought his strong work ethic to California Edision, where he served for 35 years and made an abundance of friends and acquaintances.

  "Just like everything in his life, Larry was a hard worker who was dedicated to the job. (He would do his due diligence),'' James concluded.

    Some of the highlights of his career as a sports photojournalist was covering players like Lebron James, Trevor Ariza, James Harden, Sade Wiley-Gatewood, Charde Houston, Candace Wiggins, Aaron Afflalo, and Brandon Jennings.

   The HSSLSPORTS traveled all over the place, from the CIF Southern Section to LA City Section to San Diego Section to Central and Northern sections.

    Now, James and his crew of reporters remain to tell stories about local athletes. It's going to take a while before he gets over this, he said while wiping tears from his cheeks and recalling a trip that all of his brothers made to cover a football game at Concord De Salle.  It was a bonding trip."

    He believed in life and living it to the fullest. A fond memory between Larry and his brothers was a trip they took to Central California to De LaSalle High. The brothers were able to hand out and share time together covering the game and strengthening their bond.

   "The best thing about Larry that people didn't know, some of us would move away and then return. But Larry never left his mother,'' said James. "Even during the early mornings, he made sure that his family was well fed and taken care of.

   "On any given weekend, Larry would bring up a relative and would ride with his brothers through the city to visit their cousin Debra. (He drove) up to Washington to visit his sister Sharon and brother-in-law, Ronnie Newton. A truly selfless man, Larry made his family, extended family, and acqaintances his top priority."