To win the first City Section Open Division baseball championship, you have to go through the West Valley League.
That became clear on Monday when West Valley League teams were given the top four seeds and drew first-round byes in the 12-team tournament that culminates in the championship game on June 2 at Dodger Stadium.
Cleveland is seeded No. 1, Chatsworth No. 2, defending champion Birmingham No. 3 and El Camino Real No. 4.
Don Markham, a former Los Angles police officer who became a legendary high school football coach in Southern California, has died, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. He was 78.
Markham started coaching for the Northridge Knights in 1966. He’d go on to be head football coach at L.A. Baptist, Colton, Ramona, Bishop Amat, Bandon, Ore., San Bernardino Pacifica, Rialto, Compton and Bloomington, where his team set a then-national record in 1994 by scoring 880 points in 14 games using the double-wing attack that featured running the ball again and again.
“Devastated to hear about the passing of my mentor,” former Dominguez coach Jason Miller said. “Today I’m going to coach his double-wing offense.”
It’s pretty rare when USC outrecruits UCLA for the No. 1 high school basketball prospect in Southern California, but that’s what has happened, because 6-foot-9 Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills announced on Monday he has committed to USC.
Okongwu, who will be a senior in the fall, is known for his shot blocking and rebounding skills, along with his character and strong work ethic.
He was The Times’ player of the year this past season as a junior after averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Studio City Harvard-Westlake (26-3), which became the first Mission League baseball school to go unbeaten in league in more than 15 years and finished the regular season with a 16-game win streak, has been seeded No. 1 for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The Wolverines were ranked No. 1 by The Times in the preseason and so far have lived up to expectations, relying on ace pitcher Sam Hliboki (10-0), strong defense and lots of young pitching depth to earn the favorite’s role in Division 1. But as always, there’s no guarantee the favorites will even make it to the final because of the number of quality pitchers and teams in Division 1.
“I don’t know if there isn’t a team without two quality arms,” Harvard-Westlake Coach Jared Halpert said.
Harvard-Westlake will be the home team in its opener on Friday against the winner of Wednesday’s wild-card game between Valencia and Oaks Christian.
Huntington Beach is seeded No. 2. Orange Lutheran, armed with Southern California’s No. 1 pro pitching prospect, Cole Winn (0.25 ERA), is seeded No. 3, and La Mirada is No. 4.
In Division 2, Irvine Beckman gets the No. 1 seed with Tesoro No. 2.
The best opening matchup is Thursday’s Division 2 opener featuring Ventura St. Bonaventure and pitcher Jake Saum against Simi Valley and pitcher Owen Sharts. The game will be played next to the campus of Sacred Heart School off Highway 126 and Wells Road in Ventura. Saum, a junior committed to UCLA, struck out 19 in a game this season. Sharts, a Nevada signee, has been one of the best pitchers all season.
The Southern Section still hasn’t determined a site for the Division 1, 2 and 3 championship games. They will be played at either Cal State Fullerton or Blair Field in Long Beach depending on NCAA playoff availability on June 2.
Chris Ward, the offensive line coach at Mater Dei last season who helped produce one of the most dominant lines in area history, has left the Monarchs because of a change in his day job, but now he gets to train other linemen, too.
Ward, a former UCLA lineman, helped create allegianceathletics.us, which is based in Orange County and supplements position coaches by teaching players fundamentals on the offensive line.
He’s already helping other linemen in the Trinity League become better.