March Madness is in full swing and, as usual, a number of small conference teams have already pulled bracket-busting upsets over some of the nation’s top programs, perhaps none more shocking than 14-seed Harvard’s 68-62 win over 3-seed New Mexico.
You may have missed—as social media erupted into (relatively) good-natured Harvard-hating—that key to the Crimson’s stunning victory was Kenyatta Smith, Flintridge Prep’s former All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. The sophomore center scored 10 points and added seven rebounds and two blocks to help Harvard secure the win, its first in NCAA Tournament history.
The Cinderella story was short-lived. Despite a team-high 10 points from Smith, Harvard fell to 6-seed Arizona 74-51 on Saturday, the first of two local players to fall in the Round of 32. Former Crescenta Valley and Glendale Community College star Narbeh Ebrahimian is a walk-on at San Diego State, the second victim of 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast’s miraculous run to the Sweet 16.
Even more firsts are on the horizon, as the UFC announced that the Glendale Fighting Club’s Ronda Rousey will be a coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano will fight on April 13, with the winner set to coach against Rousey, the first time in the show’s history it will feature both female coaches and competitors.
After just one season as head football coach at Bell-Jeff, David Machuca announced his resignation, having accepted a position as offensive coordinator at Glendale Community College. In 2012, Machuca turned a struggling program around, leading the Guards (2-2 in league, 4-7 overall) to the playoffs for the first time in three years, but the opportunity to coach at the college level was one he “couldn’t pass up.”
Finally, we’d like to recognize a few of the local athletes who received end-of-the-season league honors or achieved major milestones last week:
The sportswriters and editors of Times Community News North named Crescenta Valley’s senior point guard Cole Currie their 2013 All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. Currie averaged 19.1 points, five rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in Pacific League play, leading the Falcons to the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals and an appearance in the state championship tournament. Congratulations to Cole, as well as the All-Area Boys’ Basketball First Team and Second Team.
League honors fell to several local girls’ basketball players last week. Providence senior Bea Benedicto was named the Liberty League’s Player of the Year as she helped the Pioneers capture their fourth straight league championship, averaging a team-high 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Katia Dabbaghian and senior guard Nicole Mungues were also named to the All-Liberty League team. Over in the Prep League, Flintridge Prep’s Maya Okamoto, Tala Ismail and Lacy Coan were awared all-league selections after leading the Rebels to their first CIF Southern Section Division V-AA semifinals appearance since 2008.
Local athletes were also extremely well-represented in the All-CIF soccer ranks, with boys from Crescenta Valley, St. Francis, Burroughs, Pasadena Poly and La Canada and girls from Flintridge Prep, Crescenta Valley, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Marshall Fundamental, Pasadena Poly, San Marino and South Pasadena selected.
--Peter Madden, Times Community News
Follow me on Twitter @pamadden.