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HBCU SHOWCASE IS GAME-CHANGER
FOR SOME UNSIGNED ATHLETES

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

LYNWOOD, CALIF.—The smile on Roy Clarke’s face said everything. The former Fremont High and West LA City College athlete was absolutely elated. 

  Nearly three years ago, the Brooklyn, New York native moved to Southern California to play basketball and for a better opportunity in life. Well, Sunday evening, he received a better shot at one as he stood in atrium— at the door entrance of gymnasium— next to assistant coach Nathan Sheffield from Miles College.

  By the time they concluded their conversation, the 6-foot-4 guard had received an athletic scholarship offer to compete for the NCAA II college from Fairfield, Alabama.

  Nearly 30 minutes before, Clarke had put on a MVP performance — against awesome talent during the HBCU Top 20 All-Star Showcase— in front of a plethora NCAA and NAIA  Div. I, II, III and national JUCOS coaches at the 4th annual HBCU boys basketball showcase at Lynwood High. 

   Clarke, who was asked to bring his academic transcript, could vary well be one of many athletes who competed at the two-day event, to receive offers on-the-spot over the weekend or in the upcoming months. 

  “I just received an offer from Miles College. I feel blessed. I am going to keep working hard to get more,’’ said Clarke.  “I just came out here to show that I’m a versatile guard. I can do a lot on the floor to help a team at the next-level.’’ 

  The day before, Raymond Reece, a 6-foot-5 combo forward, drove through traffic to throw down an unexpected thunderous dunk over several defenders. That woke up coaches, athletes and spectators. 

  At that moment, he definitely won some of the coaches over. Several of them stopped him to conduct conversations once the game ended. Later, he was selected to compete in the all-star game. Earlier, Reece, who plays for Eastside College Prep High in Palo Alto, California, said Cheney University of Pennsylvania, had shown some interest.

  ”I don’t look to score first. I always get my teammates involved,'' he said. "I am a defensive guy. I can score if I need to score. I love rebounding. I love stealing the ball. I love getting my teammates involved. I have been doing this like since junior high. I am a ball-handler. If I get it, I’ll surely push it,’’ he continued.  “This showcase is a big opportunity for specially due to the pandemic. It’s given coaches a second-chance to look at me. I am very thankful for that." 

  Reece, who was a standout player of the all-star game, told, Dr. Theresa Price, during a brief interview, that he aspired to compete at the next level and earn a degree.  

  Price is the Founder of National College Resources Foundation, a nonprofit which conducted the showcases and Black Expo. 

  “Young men and young women have an opportunity to get recruited on the spot,’’ she said. “I am just excited because this has always been a passion of mine, to have athletes have the opportunity to meet HBCU coaches up-close and personal, get opportunities to play at the next level.’’

   Since it’s inception, in  2019, HBCU showcases have helped over 900 student-athletes earned over 50 million dollars of athletic scholarship money. 

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-- James Matthews, freelance photographer  

HBCU SHOWCASE:  Point guard Kevin Bradley drives around Marcus Granger during the in front of a plethora of college coaches at the HBCU Boys Basketball Showcase at Lynwood High in Lynwood, Calif.

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HBCU EXPOSURE:  Eric Cooper, founder of Cooper International Academy, gives over 300 players instruction during HBCU Boys Showcase Saturday at Lynwood High in Lynwood, Calif.

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ATHLETES GET RECRUITED
AT HBCU GIRLS SHOWCASE

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

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-- James Matthews, freelance photographer  

HBCU RECRUITMENT:  Former Lynwood High point guard Briliyah Taylor shows her skills to HBCU coaches Saturday at Firebaugh High in Lynwood, Calif.

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LYNWOOD, CALIF.— During a scrimmage before her basketball season started last year, Briliyah Taylor suffered an ACL injury at a JUCO in Colorado. 

  The former Lynwood High star point guard, who is still recovering from injury, made her first return to the floor at a recruitment event Saturday and Sunday. She gutted it out at the 2nd annual HBCU Girls Basketball showcase.

  At the ended of the two-day event, she, along with two of her former high school teammates who led the Lady Knights to a CIF Regional Championship in 2021, were acknowledge as top-five performers. 

  Throughout the All-Star game, Taylor managed the floor well, doing all the little things college coaches look for from point guards, playing solid defense, seeing the floor well and passing the ball to her teammates for jumpers or layups. She knocked down 3s, hit short range jumpers and drove the lane for layups. Down the stretch she kept her team from losing in regulation and overtime.

 “I have some much passion and love for the game, I couldn’t let my injury stop me from play,’’ Taylor said. “It was a great experience. It was great energy just to come out and play in front of college coaches. The competition was good, not matter the level.

   “Not being recruited made me want to grind harder. I work out every day. I am in the gym. I want to show everybody what I am capable of doing,’’ she said.

  It wasn’t easy. Kimberly Cruz, who came off the bench to back up Taylor for Lynwood, surprised everyone. The 5-foot-2 point guard came out of her shell in the waning minutes of both stanzas. She played in-your-face defense, made precision passes to her teammates for layups, knocked down two 3-point jumpers, one that tied the game up to send her team in to overtime. She even delivered another step-back 3-pointer to help her team go up.  For her performance, college coaches selected her MVP.

  “It was a great experience,’’ she said. “I am really happy that I came.”

 Jada Turner, who competed at a JUCO track meet on Saturday, earned defensive recognition. Coaches loved her defense. At Harbor College this past season, she averaged 25.4 points per game (3rd in California Community College Athletic Association) and 112 steals (6th). One coach said no one could get past her on the floor.

   Chloe McNellie, from Twenty-nine Palms High, also made a big impression on coaches. The shooting guard shot the ball well from the perimeter and scored on driving layups in and through traffic. 

  “It’s been a pleasure coming out here and playing in front of college coaches, getting noticed,’’ she said. “The exposure is (tremendous). I am having so much fun.”

  “I am being recruited out here. It’s a lot of decisions I have to make,’’ she continued. “This probably one of the best showcase I’ve ever been to.’’

  Delilah Kimble-Gray , who was a scoring machine, found the mark often to be selected as one of the top five players. The 5-footo-6 combo guard, who graduated from East LA College with a degree in business and Kinesiology and former Narbonne player, said, “The recruitment process is definitely fun. You have all the coaches calling. You see your hard work (paying off).’’

 In addition to HBCU, Humboldt State, Chico State and Cal State Bakersfield are recruiting the former Huskie.

-- James Matthews, freelance photographer  

HBCU COACHES TALK:  (BELOW) HBCU coaches held a brief discussion with student-athletes  Saturday at Firebaugh High in Lynwood, Calif. They told them what they look for in players. Shooting isn't everything they look at when deciding if players are a perfect fit for their program. They are seeking all-around players with a great basketball IQ.

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BACK IN THE GAME

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TEACHING BLACKTOP BASKETBALL: Charles "Poncho" Perry Jr. teaches youth athletes things they are not taught in gymnasiums. He grew up playing the game on the blacktop around Los Angeles County in the 1970s and 1980s. Players competed in games of 21, 3-on-3 and full-court basketball sometimes twice or three times of the day. 

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

CARSON — On sunny Saturday mornings in Stevenson Village, you can hear sneakers squeaking. You can hear basketballs pounding the pavement. You can see basketballs swooshing between nylon nets. Athletes are busy practicing defensive drills, honing their dribbling skills and improving their shooting forms.

  You can hear Charles “Poncho” Perry Jr., a longtime youth basketball developmental coach, yelling instructions. The 50th-something-year-old is back in the game, back in his environment teaching the game that open up doors for him to earn an athletic scholarship to compete at San Jose State University in 1987 and 1988 before eventually embarking on playing opportunities to compete overseas.

   Today, Poncho is just thankful to be alive and to be able to coach again.  On Feb. 4, 2019, Super Bowl Sunday at 9 p.m. in Las Vegas, Poncho was sitting in the back of a vehicle at a red-light when it was rear ended by a car traveling at 85 MPH. The car Poncho was sitting in catapulted in to the air.  Poncho went through a windshield.

  “I lost consciousness. The last thing I remember (was) telling the driver of the vehicle was ‘We are still alive and there’s no need to panic.’ The next thing I knew, I was in the ICU with tubes running in and out of me with no feeling in my lower or upper extremities. I panicked. I thought I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life.’’

   Poncho had suffered traumatic brain injury, a severe spinal cord injury, two broken ribs and nerve damage, the latter of which he stills suffers from today.  During his journey back, he felt deep depression from not knowing his physical condition and the amount of physical therapy it would take to make a full recovery.

   Poncho had a short stay in the ICU and remained in the hospital 10 weeks. Fortunately, the paralysis was temporary and his feelings in his body returned. “I had to learn how to use my motor skills once again,’’ he continues. “I regained my strength.’’

   Poncho’s weight had ballooned to nearly 300lb. “I lost a whopping 110 L.Bs,'' he says. "A year later, thanks to my physical therapist in the hospital who pushed me, she motivated me to get back to where I once was.  (Daily), I thank God for life, love and true happiness … (whether) it’s a good day, or bad day, my life will never be taken for granted.  What a humbling experience."   

  Now, Poncho is healthy and sharing his life experience on the court again.

 

COMPTON DANCED, PRANCED TO VICTORY

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-- Joe Kling freelance photographer

DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT:  Compton Running back Deon Johnson danced, pranced and dodged through Lakewood's stingy defense for a touchdown in Moore League competition.

A HOMECOMING: Running backs Erick Barrios and Deon Johnson accounted for three rushing touchdowns during the Tarbabes’ victory against Lakewood Friday night.

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

COMPTON — The homecoming dance started a little early for Compton High football team and coach Calvin Bryant Friday night when they defeated Lakewood, 26-14, in front of a packed crowd at Compton College, and kept their playoff dreams alive.

  The team erupted in wild jubilation seconds after the last second ticked off the scoreboard and the celebration eventually ended up in the end zone. Players pranced and staff members danced before Bryant gave a speech to his athletes and coaches about their eyeopening victory.

  A victory against host Cabrillo next Friday could possible enable the Tarbabes to pencil them into a playoff bracket. 

  “It’s a win that possibly puts us in a place to make the playoffs,’’ Bryant said. “We have to come out and compete next week. (In this game) We just played better offensively and defensively. Our special teams played well. We were able to move the ball with more efficiency than in the past. We changed up a few things. Our guys stayed true to my system.’’

  Now, the Lancers (3-2, 3-6) have a tougher path to the big dance. The loss meant they would have to somehow upset Poly High to extend their season. 

  It won’t be an easy task. The Moore League’s perennial powerhouse, which has steamrolled through opponents, has already clinched the league crown.

  Now, the Tarbabes have a chance to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.

  “It was a good game today. I give credit to my offensive line. I was able to find holes because of their blocking.

 “The win means a lot to us. We came into this game thinking about the playoffs, thinking about the coaches that we loss,’’ said junior running back Erick Barrios who rushed for two touchdowns, a 8-yard sweep to the left in the second quarter and a 40-yard dash to the end zone in the third.

LAKEWOOD RALLY TO

WIN HOMECOMGING

NOTEBOOK: The Wilson trying to play homecoming spoiler Friday at Long Beach City College.

Earl Williams, Sports Editor

LONG BEACH -- At first, Wilson High Bruins appeared they would player the role of spoiler at Lakewood's homecoming game at Long Beach City College three weeks ago. 

  The Bruins got on the scoreboard twice before the Lancers responded.

Lakewood rallied to win, 28-19, in front of a crowd of supports.  First, Wilson senior quarterback Alexander McLaurin connected with sophomore receiver J.T. Kraemer for for a 30-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to go up 6-0. An extra point made it 7-0 Wilson.  On the Bruins next possession, running back Johnell Gray ran the ball 20-yards up the gut of the defense untouched to the end zone to go up 13-0.  Lakewood blocked the field goal attempt.

   The Lancers methodically marched down the field to the 4-yard line. On a sweep left, running back Peako Tautai plowed to the end zone to put the Lakewood on the board at 13-6.  The Lancers kicked a field goal to trail 13-7.

     Wilson answered with a touchdown pass from McLaurin to senior tight end Joshua Scott bulldozed over Lancer defenders nine yards to the end zone to extend the Bruin's lead to 19-7. Lakewood tackled Scott on a sweep left on the 14-yard line to prevent the 2-point conversion.

   Right before half-time, Lakewood quarterback Brayden Downen rifled senior wide receiver Elijah Slaughter a 5-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit 19-14.

   The Lancers scored twice in the second stanza to put the game out of reach. Downen, on a quarterback keeper, raced to the right corner pylon for the go-ahead touchdown, 20-19. Wilson got a hand on the field goal attempt.  On Lakewood's final scoring drive, Downen threw a bomb to senior wide receiver Devon Bush, a 73 yard touchdown.  The Lancers went up 28-19 when senior running back Auggie Lyons received a pitch right and raced to the pylons for the 2-point conversion.

   This helped Lakewood snap a two-game losing streak. The Lancers fell to San Pedro, 48-20.  Millikan steamrolled the Lancers, 49-7, at the Rams' home game.  Prior to this, Lakewood barely escaped with a victory against Jordan. The Panthers appeared to dominate the contest for the first three quarters.  However, the Lancers found away to prevail. 

 

 

THE EAGLES STEAL A VICTORY

CIF-SS OPEN DIVISION:  Once again, Marshall had a dominating performance. But Jaiya Mix, Destiny Agubata, and Kennedy Smith of Etiwanda snatched the win from Lynwood’s grasp.
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SWARMING EAGLES:  Lynwood's Jaushlynn Ruffin is boxed in by Etiwanda defenders during their clash in the CIF Southern Section Open Division matchup Saturday night.

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

 

 

LYNWOOD —To Etiwanda High girls basketball fans, it must have felt little like the 1965 NBA Eastern Conference Finals when the Boston Celtics radio broadcaster Johnny Most, shouted “Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball!’’

With only 10.1 seconds left in overtime against host Lynwood, the Eagles desperately needed a huge stop to secure a 72-71 victory.

In this moment, sophomore point guard Jaiya Mix became Etiwanda’s “Havlicek.’’

Somehow, she tipped the ball away from Lynwood’s Rajah Marshall and dribbled out the clock as Etiwanda’s bench and a crowd of supporters erupted in jubilation.

Seconds earlier, Kennedy Smith had stolen the ball from Lynwood’s guard Jada Turner and scored inside the paint to put Etiwanda up for good.

“They passed the ball inward to her,’’ said Alexandra Castro, an Etiwanda guard. “Our coach told us whenever she gets the ball to double team her. I was in the back row so I came over to help. There was a tip at the top and our girl got it.’

DOMINIC FREEMAN UPLIFTS THE EAGLES

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   This season, Dominic Freeman, a former Long Beach State swingman and Biola University assistant coach, took over Capistrano Christian High girls basketball team,10-6 overall, and never envisioned that he would lead a team with five core players to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V-A and to a possible a date  toface Orange County Pacific Christian for the title.
  During this season, there have been times when he didn’t have enough players to practice and to recruit players who competed in other sports to fill in for injured players.
  He managed to lead his cut-and-paste squad to third place in the Express League.  
  Mariah Streeter, a 5-foot-4 freshman guard, ha turned in spectacular performances. She has averaged 17 ppg.  A couple of times, she torched opponents for 30 points. In her last game, she scored 27 points in the third quarter, rallying the Eagles from a 17-point deficit. With seconds left, she nailed the game-winning shot to record a 43-40 victory over Nordoff.
  Beau Allred, a 5-foot-8 freshman guard, has been chairwoman of the boards. She has averaged 18 rpg.
  “She got school record in rebounds for a single game,’’ said Freeman about her 25 rebounds against Downey Calvary Chapel.  Then she duplicated her performance against Newport Christian.
  Macy Manrique, a 5-foot-8 freshaman guard who has been out with an injury, is expected to return to compete against  Louisville in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on the road.  
  “Beau and Mariah have been the driving engine behind our success,’’ Freeman said. “This team has had some key injures and a number of issues all year long. For the last four games, we’ve played with five girls. Since then, we’ve gotten two back. This team does not quit.’’

FLYING HIGH:  After enduring numerous challenges this past season coach Dominic Freeman has  his Eagles soaring at the right time. Tonight, they will tipoff against Louisville High in the CIF Southern Section Semifinal game on the road. If the Eagles win, they'll advance to face Orange County Pacific Christian in the finals. The Express League rivals split their season matchups.

Special to the Sports Desk

MATER DEI SURVIVES LATE RALLY

LYNWOOD STAGE COMEBACK:  Rayah Marshall, a 6-foot-4 McDonald's All-American, scores 16 of her 43 points in the second half to rally the Knights from a 24-point deficit, but comes up short against the Monarchs for the second time in two seasons.
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A HANDFUL: Rayah Marshall goes up for 2 of her 43 points against Mater Dei. She also had 16 rebounds. in the losing effort on the road. The Knights got behind as much as 24 points in the game.

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

SANTA ANA — It must have been like reliving “Ground Hogs’ Day’’ the movie for Lynwood and Mater Dei high girls basketball teams on Wednesday night during the second round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division Playoffs.
  They woke up to this reoccurring nightmare.
  Last year, the Monarchs moved the ball around the perimeter and found themselves open for contest 3-pointers. It was target practice.
  They dribbled the ball around Lynwood defenders like they were statues for uncontested layups, mid-range jumpers in the lane and scored off 50-50 balls, and found themselves up by 20 points entering halftime.
  It appeared to be an easy night, but Lynwood came roaring back. Brilyah Taylor and Jada Turner led the charge.  On Wednesday night, the script was nearly identical.
  In the second half, Knights turned up their defensive intensity several notches and scored off steals, turnovers, and fastbreaks layups. This time Rayah Marshall, a McDonald’s All-American, came to the rescue. Her heroics on both ends had Lynwood in a great position to rewrite the ending of this story.
  However, missed layups, missed free throws, a late bucket by Mater Dei, and free throws by the Monarchs resulted in a 78-70 loss.  Now, the Knights will host Etiwanda Saturday at 7 p.m., a rematch of a regular-season meeting that Lynwood won.

VALLEY CHRISTIAN ON CRUSADE FOR CIF TITLE

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HOT SHOT: Medina, who can fill up the stat sheet with 3-pointers, scores on a driving layup in the first half of the Crusaders' nail-bitter in the CIF-SS Division III-AA Quarterfinals.
DEFENDERS HOLD BIG RALLY: Medina tallies 20 points and Brett Stahl added 17 points to rally the Defenders to a thrilling victory over Covina in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs at home Tuesday night in front of a large crowd of supports

By Earl Williams, Sports Editor

CERRITOS — In the waning seconds, senior shooting guard Brett Stahl hit a clutch free throw and two deep shots from the arc.
  His heroics, and that of other Valley Christian High basketball players, propelled the Defenders to a 62-56 victory over Covina Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA. Now, they will advance to play host Aquinas, which edged Lakewood High in overtime.
“We have had a handful of games where we were down by double digits,’’ Valley Christian coach Josh Zumkehr said. “We were in that spot previously. We are pretty resilient. We got a few shots and made a few stops. We let the crowd give us some momentum.’’
  Stahl, who finished with 17 points, converted free throws to sealed the victory with 3.7 seconds left on the clock.
This stretched the Defenders’ lead to six points, this put the game out of reach.


 

IRIAFEN, HARVARD WESTLAKE SEIZED THE MOMENT

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PLAYING LIKE A PACK OF WOLVERINES: Kiki Iriafen couldn't stop Rayah Marshall from scoring in the paint, but she did limit her rebound put-backs. She blocked her shots, too. The Wolverines' defense also made it difficult for Lynwood to get good looks from the perimeter.

THE BATTLE OF MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS:
Iriafen wins duel scoring 37 points and grabbing 26 rebounds for a dominating performance, leading the Wolverines to victory against the Knights. Marshall had 27 points in losing effort.

 

BY Earl Williams 

Sports Editor

LOS ANGELES— Sometimes, there’s a huge spotlight placed upon you, and you have to seize the moment.
  Kiki Iriafen, a 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American from Harvard Westlake High, knew exactly how to do it.
  And there wasn’t a bigger moment in her high school career than Saturday afternoon against Rayah Marshall,  a 6-foot-3 McDonald’s All-American from Lynwood High, in the first game of the CIF Southern Section Open Division Playoffs.
  Iriafen put on a show, displaying an array of offensive skills and dominating the boards. The Stanford signee was practically unstoppable, scoring 37 rebounds and grabbing 26 rebounds.
  At one point, the senior forward even grabbed a rebound on one side of the rim and reversed it to the other side for a layup without any resistance from Rayah Marshall, who watched from the top of the key.
  It instances like this, out huslting her rival, that helped propel Harvard Westlake (20-2) to a resounding victory, 80-54, against Lynwood in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division.

LAKEWOOD SURVIVES LETDOWN

 

AVOIDS FOUR-QUARTER COLLAPSE
 

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COLD SPELL: Lancers' shooters went cold and saw their 30-point cushion dwindled to 10 in the CIF Southern Section Div. III-AA Playoffs

By Earl Williams

Editor

LAKEWOOD- A basketball game is never totally over until the clock on the scoreboard ticks to zero. Things can fall apart fast if a team becomes complacent.  It’s a good thing the Lakewood High boys basketball team had built up a 30-point cushion Friday night at home.
  It appeared that they were headed for an easy night against Eastside High of Lancaster in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA Playoffs.
  That quickly changed in the fourth quarter. Lakewood (16-4) saw its 30-point lead evaporate and found itself operating in survival mode in the waning minutes of the game, managing to hold on for a 71-61 victory in front of a sizable crowd at home.

DRIVETIME: Jalen Shores scores 2 of his 26 points in the Lancers', 71-61, victory against Eastside High in the CIF-SS Div. III-AA playoffs on Friday.

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LAKEWOOD BEGINS QUEST FOR CIF-SS CHAMPIONSHIP

VICTORY LANE: Jalen Shores scored 28 points to lead the Lancers over the Cardinals on Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the CIF-SS Div. III-AA Playoffs to host  Eastside High Friday at 7.o.m.

By Earl Williams

Editor


LAWNDALE — The Lakewood High guards are really good.
  They can carve up defensives like slicing pieces of chocolate cake.
  Lawndale coach Chris Brownlee found this out Wednesday night at home in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA Playoffs. They drove the lanes, found teammates for layups, mid-range jumpers, floaters in the paint, and scored off seals.
  In fact, senior guard Jalen Shores was the leader of the pack.
  He torched the Cardinals for 28 points, as Lakewood defeated the host Cardinals, 73-60, in front of a good size crowd of supporters.
  “We just kept grinding,’’ Lakewood coach Duane Cooper said. “We tried to get out on the break a little bit. Jalen got us going (offensively). We were able to hold on at the end.”
  Shores had plenty of help, even when he fouled out the game in the fourth quarter and the game intensifying.
  Clutch shots by sophomore guard Chris Willis, junior guards Bernard Dickerson and Corali’i  Mila,  helped the Lancers fend off the Cardinals.
Dickerson, who had a breakout game offensively, tallied 18 points. Willis added 10 points and five assists, as the Lancers advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA Playoffs against Eastside High on Friday at 7 p.m.

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UNITED FRONT: Lakewood celebrates its victory against Lawndale High in the first-- round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA Playoffs Wednesday night.  Head coach Duane Cooper called a timeout to provide instructions in the fourth quarter of the 73-60 win on the road.

MARSHALL LEADS LYNWOOD OVER ETIWANDA

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By Earl Williams

Sportswriter and Editor



GOOD KNIGHTS: Rayah Marshall and Briliyah Taylor combined for 49 points as Lynwood High girls basketball team knocked off the Eagles.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — For 32 minutes, senior point-forward Rayah Marshall kept coming. And coming. And coming.
  And so did the Lynwood High Lady Knights’ intense pressure.
  And there wasn’t anything Etiwanda Coach Stan Delus could do about it.
Oh, he had a wall of players collapse on Marshall. They hacked her, bumped her, pushed her.  It didn’t matter. She scored on them in nearly every way imaginable except a dunk.
  And Etiwanda succumbed to Lynwood, 67-50, in front of a good size crowd of supporters.
  “It’s her time. It’s definitely Rayah’s moment right now,’’ Lynwood coach Ellis Barfield said. “(Organizers) didn’t have the McDonald’s All-American game. They didn’t have the Jordan Brand Classic All-American game. She was invited to play in both of them.
    “She couldn’t go to USA Basketball,’’ Barfield continued.  “It didn’t look like she would have a season at the beginning of the year.   All I keep talking about is the appreciation for the game, the love, and the passion for the game, just bring that. And she has been benefiting from all that. Rayah is a good kid, a good, outstanding leader, and the team definitely depends on her.”
 

MARSHALL GETS PLENTY OF HELP AGAINST SIERRA CANYON

IN SYNC: Briliyah Taylor, Jada Turner, Rayah Marshall offensive output propelled the Lady Knights to a victory on Senior Night.

 

By Earl Williams

Editor

LYNWOOD— A few weeks ago, it appeared as if this season would be one of Lynwood High coach Ellis Barfield's greatest challenges of his storied career. The Lady Knights looked lethargic, with no chemistry.
  Thursday night at home, there was a totally different story. It appeared they put everything together on both ends of the court against a good Sierra Canyon team, one of the elite basketball programs in the state.
     Rayah Marshall, the Lady Knights’ 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American, dominated in the paint, scoring 32 points. Senior point guards Briliyah Taylor and Jada Turner, contributed 14 and 11 points, respectively as Lynwood defeated the Trailblazers, 69-59, in front of a sizable crowd of fans during Senior Night.
  “It was a great win for our kids,’’ Barfield said. “Sierra Canyon is a great team. You can’t sleep on them at all.
  “I am proud of our kids because of their leadership,’’ Barfield continued. “Once we began to attack and get into good rebound positioning, we started getting back to our pace of the game.
  “We just needed games, getting battles underneath our belt,’’ he added. “Girls need to get get a feel for the game. Just like a boxer, you have to get back into the ring. Otherwise, you just become a (fan in the bleachers).

SPARTANS OUT DUEL KNIGHTS

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Marshall, a McDonald's All-American and Top USC Recruit, tallied 24 points and 19 rebounds during one of the team's worst defeats on SoCal soil in well over a decade.

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By Earl Williams
Sportswriter
 
GARDEN GROVE — Normally, this would have been a game for high school girls basketball fans to mark as a must-see on their calendars. But in a pandemic environment,  there is nothing normal about high school sports.

      Late Saturday night, Orangewood Academy High girls basketball team added to its impressive collection of wins when the Spartans hosted Lynwood.
     They soundly defeated the Knights, 59-47, in front of a good-sized crowd of supporters.
     Hannah Stines and Keyla Romo led the Spartans with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Kristal Caldwell and Amaya Lacy added 13 and nine points, as Orangewood improved to 5-2 overall and 4-0 at home. The Spartans led 30-20 at the half and never looked back.
    “I am disappointed. I am disappointed,’’ Lynwood coach Barfield said. “We got into it with some of the officials. We got into it with some of the players. … It got into the kids' heads. It looked like we were just going into the motions. Other people thought we were playing hard. I didn’t think we were playing hard. I felt mental, we took ourselves out of the game. We were lethargic on defense and weren’t playing together. It was good for us. We need more. We need more competitive games because, at this time of year, these private schools are like 15 and 20 games into the season.’’
    The Knights, who played only their third game of the season and who hasn’t had much court time, managed to stay close to the Spartans throughout the first half thanks to All-American point-forward Rayah Marshall.
    Even though coach Leslie Aragon’s plan was to try to limit her touches. Marshall, a USC signee, rose above defenders at will scoring on mid-range jumpers, drives to the hole, rebound put-backs, and deep shots from the arc. She finished with 24 points and 25 rebounds. Newcomer Jaushlyn Ruffin, an undersized power forward, tallied 11 points for the Knights, who dropped to 1-1 on the season. Two of their games were canceled.
  “We wanted to keep a body on Rayah at all times and make it harder for her,’’  Leslie Aragon said. “She is possibly a future pro. We wanted to protect the ball against the full-court pressure. We were pretty good in the full-court but struggled in the half-court.
  Throughout the game, the length of the Spartans frustrated the Knights, whose guards struggled to get off shots from the perimeter and turned the ball over multiple off times when trying to make entry passes into the post.
  Entering the 9:30 p.m. contest, the Spartans were battled tested. They fell Corona Centennial, 58-45, defeated Long Beach Poly in a nailbiter, 60-54, suffered a two-point loss to Fairmont Prep, 46-44, and had an impressive win against Windward, 59-51, the latter win came earlier in the season.
  “This Lynwood team will look different in a month from now. They just got into the gym. They just got cleared. Coach Ellis Barfield has been the national coach of the year before.  He’ll have them ready. I saw him rip into them. They will be a totally different team when they get into condition. For us, it’s a great win. Gym time or no gym time, it’s still Lynwood.”

A LEGEND REMEMBERED

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EARTH-QUAKING DUNKS:  Hardy, who had “Trouble” written on the sides of his customized green van, makes  an unbelievable dunk from behind the backboard against Santa Clara during a WCAC game between 1976-1978.  The legendary Long Jordan Panther was known for doing acrobatic dunks like this in high school. 

IUSF'  ATHLETIC HALL-Of-FAME:  In 2017, Hardy was inducted. The Dons went on an incredible run to a WCAC regular season title , to a No. 1 ranking in the AP National Poll and to 29 consecutive victories.

 He was an AP Honorable Mention All-American in 1977 and 1978.  He made the 1976 West Coast Athletic Conference All-Freshman team.

OVERSEAS TOUR:  Hardy forged a successful basketball career on the other side the pond. He played pro ball for teams from the Philippines to Italy.

By Earl Williams

Sports Editor

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LONG BEACH — How many basketball players have you ever witnessed elevate a basketball above the square for an earth-quaking dunk while having to duck his head to avoid hitting the back of a backboard during a game?
   Well, it really happened folks. The story isn’t a myth.   James Percivell Hardy did it.  And he wasn’t playing a game of horse.  In the basketball archive at the University of San Francisco, there is a vintage black and white photo of the 2017 USF Athletic Hall-of-Fame inductee posterizing Santa Clara players during a West Coast Athletic Conference game. Hardy, who died from a heart attack at age 64 on Dec. 29, gave basketball fans in San Francisco, Long Beach, and around the world a plethora of unforgettable highlights for generations of fans to talk about.    

 

L.B. PANTHER AND ENTREPRENEUR  FOUND LASTING LOVE

GOOD TIMES:

James Hardy and Catherine McLamb enjoyed a meal.  The couple has known each other for at least 50 years. They met when the legendary basketball phenom moved to the Carmelitos Housing Projects in North Long Beach.

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By Earl Williams

Sportswriter and Editor

LONG BEACH -- Catherine McLamb grew up in the Carmelitos Housing Projects, a place many people in North Long Beach, in the 1970s, called the “Bricks.’’  She met James Percivell Hardy, who died from a heart attack on Dec. 29 at age 64, when he was 13 years old.  At 8, she used to be at the Hardy’s house visiting family members more than her own home. She was considered a goddaughter.
     Hardy, who became a high school basketball phenom, thought of her as a little sister.  Later, the 1975 Parade All-American, went on to play college basketball at the University of San Francisco, the New Orleans Jazz (now Utah), and overseas.  He got married and had children. She did, too.  

     In 2009, they found love.  He had traveled all over the world looking for a lady who could make him a happy home.McLamb had been there all the time. The couple got married and blended their families. He raised her children as if they were his own. “James always wanted to have a family,’’ McLamb said. “We have always been in contact with each other. He was finally able to get back to his true love.
 “He used to tell people, ‘I married my sister’,’’ she fondly recalled.

VIDEO SPORTS RESUMES
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USC WIll HOST RAYAH'S NEXT BLOCK PARTY

By Earl Williams

Writer

   For three years, Aliyah Pollard has turned in outstanding performances on the hardwood and in classrooms at Los Angeles Center For Enrichment Studies (LACS). There, Currently, the 6-foot point-forward recorded a weighed 3.468 GPA. Her NCAA Core GPA is 3.430.

   This past year, her schedule was loaded with AP Classes. She also managed to have time to serve as Student Athletic Club President, Black Student Union Cabinet Secretary, and as a volunteer for LA Best, which helps kids with homework.  In the summer, she also volunteers with ESY, a special education program.

   The First-team All-western Conference selection managed this while leading the Unicorns to the CIF Los Angeles City Section 2020 Division II title. Pollard was named Player Of The Year.

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USC WIll HOST RAYAH'S NEXT BLOCK PARTY

By Earl Williams

Writer

LONG BEACH - Larry Tarrell Matthews loved to shoot high school sports in the CIf Southern Section, especially basketball, football and track. You'd often see him aiming his 35MM cameras at athletes from the baslene of basketball courts. His brothers James and Jonnie Ray would position themselves on opposit sides of courts with their professional cameras.

You'd see the trio and their crew at track meets, too. they were dedicated sports photojournalists.

In fact, Larry's love for sports started years ago. He was quite a hurdler at Poly High in the mid-1970s. His blazing speed earned him and some of other Jackrabbits invites to the Arcadia Track and Field Invitational, a premier event back in those days.

   Larry, who passed unexpectedly on July 24 - a firm believer in Jehovah, was born to Johnnie Paul and Nanni Mae Matthews on April 22, 1958 in Long Beach, Calif.

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USC WIll HOST RAYAH'S NEXT BLOCK PARTY

By Earl Williams

Writer


LOS ANGELES—  Normally, Rayah Marshall usually host her block parties inside the baseline of hardwood floors at Lynwood High School and around the CIF Southern Section.
   At 6-foot-4, Marshall, a McDonald’s All-American candidate, slaps shots left and right during the heated battles.  That’s not all.
   She isn’t just a center for the Knights. She is a hybrid who plays ever position on the floor, a Candace Parker and Brianna Steward type.
    This past Saturday, she hosted another kind of block party under the backdrop of the Los Angeles Coliseum and not too far from the doorsteps of USC.

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JADA TURNER WILL

LOCK YOU DOWN

By Earl Williams

Writer

LYNWOOD, CALI.--Lynwood High point guard Jada Turner stands only 5-foot-4. However, the senior is definitely hard to miss. Her defense intensity is off the charts. 

   She plays up-in-your-face lock-down defense. She is a thief. Over the course of the season, she not only stole the ball from point guards but their confidence as well. She averaged nearly two steals per game.  
   Turner, a sprinter in youth track, appears to go from 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds with the ball.  Against Mater Dei, she tallied 10 points and two seasons.  Her defense intensity and sprinter’s speed served as a catalyst for the Knights’ comeback from 20 points only to loose by two.
   Here are other athletes who stood out and will likely return for the 2020-2021 season.
  

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WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MARSHALL?

By Earl Williams

Writer

LYNWOOD, CALIF. --Rayah Marshall has all the physical tools in her box to become the next Candace Parker, Ellana Delladon or Brianna Steward of players.  
   These are the most versatile, hybrid athletes the WNBA has ever seen,
able to play nearly every position on the hardwood.
     Of course, Marshall will have to really polish
her game before she reaches that platitude.

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BRILIYAH TALOR:
HERE TO ASSIST

By Earl Williams

Writer

LYNWOOD, CALIF. -- If you are playing with Briliyah Taylor on Lynwood High girls basketball team, you better have your hands ready. Her precision passes will nail you in the chest or face. Ouch is right.

  The 5-foot-7 senior is a pass-first and shoot-second floor general. Her poise, court vision and decision-making are what separates her from many of her peers.

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THREE JR. KNIGHTS FOOTBALL TEAMS WIN PACIFIC COAST CONFERENCE
CHAMPIONSHIPS

By Earl Williams

Writer

LYNWOOD, CALIF. -- The Lynwood Jr., Knights, a youth football and cheer organization, celebrated multiple titles in November of 2019.

  The 10-under and 11 Under teams achieved their feats in the Division I while the 12-Under won its title in Division II.

   This season, the Jr. Knights  were expected to make their debute in the Snoop Dogg league before the season was cancelled due to the conorvius pandemic.

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