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Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. Get his latest from the field and follow all our prep sports coverage and analysis here.


Fairfax wins Maranatha tournament championship

Fairfax took charge in the second half and rolled to a 70-54 victory over Long Beach Poly on Saturday night in the championship game of the Maranatha tournament.

With point guard Jamal Hartwell directing the attack and big man Kirk Smith doing a good job on the boards, the Lions pulled away even though they were not at full strength. Hartwell had 16 points and Ronald Mitchell contributed 13 points. Smith earned MVP honors.

Fairfax should get back Robert McRae when the Fairfax tournament begins on Monday.

Mater Dei, led by Harvard-bound Spencer Freedman and highly recruited 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, is the tourney favorite. The championship game will be on Saturday.


Versatile QB Steven Comstock commits to Fresno State

Steven Comstock of Northview, a talented quarterback who can run, pass and lead, has committed to Fresno State.

Comstock, also an outstanding wrestler, led his team to a 10-2 record as a junior.

He passed for 2,679 yards and 30 touchdowns. He rushed for 830 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Get Eric Sondheimer's latest updates from the field


In a day of summer football, L.A. Cathedral proves best

It's becoming pretty clear that L.A. Cathedral, led by sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, is the team to watch this summer in seven-on-seven passing competitions.

The Phantoms won their third passing tournament championship Saturday, defeating Upland in the finals of the Bonita tournament.

Young, who has scholarship offers from USC and UCLA, is a precision passer who knows how to come through in clutch situations. Cathedral's receivers also have been making improvement, along with their defensive backs.

Freshman Josiah Zamora and junior Alex Franco were top receivers for the Phantoms, and defensive backs Cedric Jones, Dylan Wright and Jordan Washington came through.

Cathedral's big summer test will come in two weeks at Edison.

Upland junior quarterback David Baldwin was firing away for a team loaded with quality athletes.

Upland is slated to move from Division 1 to Division 2 this fall, making the Highlanders the early favorites to win a section title. Linebacker Justin Flowe is headed to star status, and he's only going to be a sophomore.

Cathedral defeated Paraclete in the semifinals, and Upland defeated Valencia.

In the Thousand Oaks tournament, Chaminade won the championship, defeating Buena in the final.

Quarterback Ryan Stevens and Stanford-bound Michael Wilson had a good day teaming up, along with receivers Tyler Daye and Ashton Thomas.

In two weeks, the Edison passing tournament will feature the likes of St. John Bosco, Mater Dei and Corona Centennial as the top tournament of the summer. It's set for July 8.

Downey defeats Cathedral in championship soccer tournament

Downey has won its second soccer tournament of the summer, defeating Cathedral, 2-1, in the final of the six-on-six tournament at South Torrance.

Junior Francisco Banuelos was named MVP of the tournament.

Bell Gardens, Los Alamitos, Mira Costa, Peninsula and St. Francis were among the teams participating.


Rick Pedroarias takes over football program at Loyola

Rick Pedroarias has been selected to become the football coach at Loyola. He replaces Marvin Sanders, who took a leave of absence during the spring semester and decided not to return, according to a school official.

Pedroarias has been involved with Loyola's football program for 30 years and was an assistant principal. He has coached the offensive line, linebackers and quarterbacks. He's a 1984 Loyola grad.

"He brings to this important position his well-honed leadership skills, an intricate knowledge of football strategy and a deep understanding of Loyola’s mission on and off the field," Athletic Director Chris O'Donnell said in a statement.

Pedroarias had been the interim coach while Sanders was involved in his leave of absence.


Fairfax to face Long Beach Poly in championship game of Maranatha tournament

When the going got tough on Friday night in the semifinals of the Maranatha basketball tournament, All-City guard Ethan Anderson stepped forward to help Fairfax defeat Beverly Hills 62-53.

Anderson finished with 18 points. Fairfax will face Long Beach Poly in Saturday's 8:35 p.m. championship game. Poly defeated St. John Bosco 66-57. Justin Rene had 17 points for the Jackrabbits.

The championship game will be a battle of guards, but Fairfax has a height advantage with 6-foot-7 Kirk Smith, who'll be the tallest player on the court. He had 17 points against Beverly Hills, which received 13 points from Ben Ramirez and 15 from Kevin Cho.

The Lions are playing this weekend without Robert McRae, who has a family commitment.


Hawkins put on two years' probation, forced to forfeit all games in 2016

The troubled Hawkins football program has received a final punishment from the City Section.

Commissioner John Aguirre said the school will have to forfeit all games from the 2016 season, will be placed on two years' probation and must return any awards as a result of rules violations that included ineligible players. The team is eligible for the playoffs in 2017.

Previously, the coaching staff, principal and assistant principal in charge of athletics had been removed by the Los Angeles Unified School District following the end of the 2016 season.

Hawkins had one of the best teams in the City Section last season but came close to being removed from the playoffs after an emergency meeting was held by a committee from the City Section. The team was allowed to continue competing in the playoffs and lost in the Division II final to Los Angeles.

Since the end of the season, many of the team's top players have transferred to other schools after Coach Malik James and the coaching staff were dismissed.

In 2014, Hawkins was forced to forfeit five games, placed on two years' probation and banned from the 2015 playoffs because its quarterback was declared ineligible.


NBA draft shows rise in Southern California talent

Southern California high school basketball competition has been enjoying a big upswing in recent years, and it's reflected in the NBA draft.

From Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills) being selected No. 2 by the Lakers to TJ Leaf (San Diego Foothills Christian) going No. 18 to the Pacers, it's a sign of the recent momentum being generated in gyms around the Southland.

In the second round, Jordan Bell (Long Beach Poly) went No. 38 to the Bulls and was traded to the Warriors; Tyler Dorsey (Maranatha) went No. 41 to the Hawks; Ike Anigbogu (Corona Centennial) went No. 47 to the Pacers.

It comes after a season in which the NBA's three top candidates for MVP were Russell Westbrook (Leuzinger), James Harden (Artesia) and Kawhi Leonard (Riverside King).

And next season, there are legitimate NBA prospects in Marvin Bagley III, who may or may not be at Sierra Canyon; and Bol Bol, the 7-foot-2 giant at Mater Dei.


Semifinals set for Maranatha tournament

The semifinals for the Gold division of the Maranatha tournament are set for Friday, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Fairfax, St. John Bosco, Long Beach Poly and Beverly Hills have qualified for the semifinals.

Three of those four teams will be participating in next week's Fairfax tournament.


Top prep female volleyball players are set for Queen of the Beach Invitational

There won't be a stronger group of female prep volleyball players than those converging in Hermosa Beach for this weekend's Queen of the Beach Invitational.

Set for Saturday and Sunday, the tournament is loaded with future college players.

Three players headed to Pepperdine and three players headed to USC are among those set to compete.

The tournament features separate fields of 32 college players and 56 high school players.


Shae Anderson of Norco is Gatorade girls' athlete of the year in state track and field

Shae Anderson of Norco has been selected the Gatorade state girls' athlete of the year in track and field.

Anderson won the state 400-meter championship with a time of 52.91 and the 300 hurdles in 40.31.

She has a 3.24 grade-point average.


Joseph Anderson of Upland is Gatorade state athlete of the year in track and field

Joseph Anderson of Upland has been named the Gatorade state athlete of the year in track and field for boys.

Anderson set a state record in winning the 110 hurdles at the CIF championships in 13.33 seconds.

He also won the 300 hurdles in 36.02 seconds.



A day before his high school graduation, Redondo High standout guard Ryse Williams dies of cancer at 18

Ryse Williams, left (Photo by James Escarcega)
Ryse Williams, left (Photo by James Escarcega)

The high school basketball community was dealing with the stunning news on Thursday that standout guard Ryse Williams of Redondo High School died early in the morning from cancer, according to his former Redondo coach, Reggie Morris Jr.

Williams was 18 years old.

“Everybody is hurting,” Morris said.

Williams signed with Loyola Marymount and was scheduled to graduate on Friday from Redondo.

“As fine as a young man as I’ve ever coached,” said Morris, who became an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount last season, then recruited Williams. “A great kid from a great family.”

Morris said he had been unaware of Williams’ illness. Redondo's coach this past season, Victor Martin, told the Daily  Breeze that Williams was hospitalized a week ago after becoming ill. Tests revealed he had cancer.

Williams, a 6-foot-4 senior, was the top scorer for Redondo this past season. He was known for his clutch shooting and tough defense.

Athletic director Andy Saltsman informed the team on Thursday morning.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “He was a great young man.”

Saltsman said grief counselors were made available on campus and will be available on Friday when seniors return for graduation practice in the morning.

Williams is survived by his mother, Lana; father, O’Brey; and sister Sierra.

There will be a candlelight tribute to Williams at 8 p.m. at the basketball court at Dominguez Hills Village off of Central and Victoria in Carson.


Brice Turang and Blake Burzell to play at Petco Park in August

Standout baseball players Brice Turang of Corona Santiago and Blake Burzell of Laguna Beach have been named to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Aug. 13 at Petco Park.

The game will include 50 rising high school senior players from around the country. Last year's game included the No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks, Royce Lewis and Hunter Greene.

The final rosters will be announced next month.


Loyola wins Commissioner's Cup for boys

The Southern Section has corrected an error and determined that Loyola, not Oaks Christian, won the boys' competition as the No. 1 sports school for the 2016-17 season and is the winner of the Commissioner's Cup.

Oaks Christian was originally thought to have won with 15 points, but the Southern Section forgot to give Loyola one point for a fourth-place finish in cross country. The Cubs finished with 16 points.

It's the ninth time the Cubs have won the Commissioner's Cup. Loyola won the golf title and was runner-up in swimming and volleyball and semifinalists in basketball and water polo.

Santa Margarita won the girls' competition.


Loyola, Santa Margarita finish as top sports programs in Southern Section

Loyola and Santa Margarita have won the Southern Section Commissioner's Cup given to the top boys' and girls' sports program for the 2016-17 school year.

Santa Margarita won titles in swimming, track and field and volleyball. Loyola won in golf and had runner-up finishes in volleyball and swimming.

Sierra Canyon finished second in girls and Oaks Christian was second in boys.


Taylor Dockins of Norco leads All-CIF softball teams

Pitcher Taylor Dockins of Norco has been selected the Southern Section Division 1 player of the year in softball.

Madison Husky of Gahr was the Division 2 player of the year. Autum Pease of Murrieta Mesa was Division 3 player of the year.

Here's the link to complete All-CIF teams.


Jake Jackson of El Toro is Division 1 player of the year

Jake Jackson of El Toro, a senior pitcher who didn't throw a single inning as a junior, has been selected the Southern Section Division 1 player of the year.

Jackson helped lead El Toro to the Division 1 championship and is headed to Nevada. He was 12-1 and threw a 4-0 shutout at Dodger Stadium.

Tyler Freeman of Etiwanda was selected the Division 2 player of the year. Brandon Godoy of Walnut is the Division 3 player of the year.

Here's the link to complete All-CIF teams.

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