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It’s win or go home time at the Junior NBA World Championship in Florida for the Southern California-based California Storm girls’ basketball team.

The single elimination playoffs begin on Friday. California Storm, representing the West, went 2-1 in pool play and will face the Midwest in a 2:30 p.m. game. It needs three consecutive wins to advance to the championship game on Sunday that will be nationally televised.

Hannah Stines, who plays at Fullerton Troy, has averaged 14.3 points in the first three games.

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Former Oaks Christian star Lauren Rain Williams, shown at the World U20 Championships, is leaving Oregon for USC.
Former Oaks Christian star Lauren Rain Williams, shown at the World U20 Championships, is leaving Oregon for USC. (Getty Images)

Lauren Rain Williams, one of the top female sprinters in California during her high school days at Oaks Christian, is transferring to USC and has signed with the Trojans, a school spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Last season as a freshman at Oregon, she ran a 22.51 200 meters and was part of a second-place 4x100 relay team at the NCAA championships.

She was a silver medalist in the 200 at the World U20 Championships.

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Culver City’s football team is going to be heard from this season in both Division 7 and in the Ocean League.

An Oct. 5 game at Lawndale should produce lots of entertainment.

On offense, the Centaurs showed off a promising passing attack in seven-on-seven summer competitions, with sophomore quarterback Zevi Eckhaus making steady improvement. He’ll have standout receiver Jamal Glaspie.

  • Football

Fox Sports West’s Prep Zone has released its early schedule of Southern Section football games that will appear on the web or be broadcast on TV.

The Arizona Chandler at Corona Centennial game on Aug. 17 will be shown on Prime Ticket.

The Prep Zone games on the web will be Utah Timpview at St. John Bosco, Westlake vs. Sierra Canyon at Granada Hills, Antelope Valley at Grace Brethren and Upland at La Habra.

Michael Burnett, a former lawyer, has come from Virginia to take over the Harvard-Westlake football program
Michael Burnett, a former lawyer, has come from Virginia to take over the Harvard-Westlake football program (Eric Sondheimer)

When Michael Burnett came from Leesburg, Va., a town of 52,000, to interview for the Harvard-Westlake football coaching position last December, he was driving down Coldwater Canyon Boulevard in Studio City on a weekday morning. To say he was reintroduced to Los Angeles traffic would be an understatement.

"I only had to go a mile and it took me 15 minutes,” he said.

Luckily, he didn’t turn around. Perhaps it brought back memories of coaching at Santa Monica High from 2002 to 2005 before he left for Virginia to be closer to his wife’s family.

At Broad Run High, he taught social studies and coached football. A team that had rarely made the playoffs won two state titles. In 2010, he moved to a newly opened school, Tuscarora, where in 2015 he was named the Don Shula high school coach of the year by the NFL.

Now he has come to Harvard-Westlake, a school with strong academic and athletic success but little tradition and low player numbers in football. He welcomes the challenge.

“What I’ve done is mostly built programs,” he said. “I’m a pretty high-energy, positive person and try to get all the kids out.”

Burnett, a Massachusetts native, has quite a back story. He was a lawyer and litigator back east when he quit his job at age 27 to become a teacher and coach.

“How did you get lost?” I asked him.

“I think I got found,” he said. “I always joke that the only people who ask me why I stopped being a lawyer are my lawyer friends. For me, I was going to do something I loved even if it didn’t make financial sense. It made me happy.”

With three advanced college degrees, he also has an interesting philosophy on practices. His players will always be in shorts and no one is allowed to tackle someone to the ground.

“We’re trying to make it safer for kids and a lot of concussions are happening when kids hit the ground,” he said.

He’s teaching players to go full speed, have fun and learn fundamentals. It seems to be working.

“I love coach Burnett — just the positive vibe he brings and getting more players out and making practice fun,” quarterback Jameson Wang said.

The Wolverines didn’t have enough players for a junior varsity program last season. They will have a JV team this season. They are shooting for 60 players in the overall program after being in the low 40s last season. Burnett has helped grow the program with his sophomore son, Jack, a center. He also has a seventh-grade son who plays football.

Burnett will teach three AP economics classes. He’s the first football coach at Harvard-Westlake to not teach P.E. since 2004. He welcomes being an academic teacher.

“I’m going to see them when they come to gym anyways, but I’m also going to see them at a different level. It’s worked very well for me. I always felt for me as a teacher I got to them all day long and find kids and let them know the program we’re going to run.”

The head of athletics, Terry Barnum, a former USC running back, said Burnett is “a great fit” for the Wolverines.

“He’s a teacher first,” he said. “He teaches through his coaching.”

Barnum is hoping a buzz is created by Burnett that will excite parents and students alike, increasing participation in the football program.

Burnett coaches the offensive line and will also call plays. He uses the pistol offense and wants more balance, saying being able to run the ball effectively will be a key to winning a playoff game.

He seems to have adjusted to L.A. traffic. The first test of his football team comes Aug. 17 at home against Birmingham.

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Flyer for Aug. 31 game
Flyer for Aug. 31 game (Bishop Diego)

When Bishop Diego plays Lompoc on Aug. 31 at Santa Barbara City College, the game will have special meaning for Bishop Diego athletic director Dan Peeters.

His 6-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2017. The diagnosis caused him and his family to launch Team Cheek to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to encourage people to sign up for the national bone marrow registry through Be the Match.

Those attending the game will be encouraged to register for Be the Match.

  • Football

Since the Southern Section began using a formula to decide playoff divisions three years ago and strength of schedule matters, there’s a clear trend of teams looking to schedule City Section opponents.

That’s because some programs want to avoid getting put into higher divisions, and playing a weaker nonleague schedule can’t hurt. There’s also a need to win nonleague games to be considered for an at-large berth.

Before, teams had an incentive to schedule top opponents. Strength of schedule advantage was an important tiebreaker in getting a playoff spot. Now it’s more important to get to .500 or having a winning overall record if you’re in a tough league.

  • Football
Quarterback Ethan Garbers of Corona del Mar makes his debut against JSerra next week.
Quarterback Ethan Garbers of Corona del Mar makes his debut against JSerra next week. (Eric Sondheimer)

If you’re looking for the best opening game of the high school football season that begins next week, here are some possibilities:

In the City Section, South Gate at Eagle Rock should be very competitive on Aug. 17. Both schools hope to win a league championship.

For intersectional games, Birmingham at Harvard-Westlake will be important for both schools. Birmingham has a veteran offensive unit. Harvard-Westlake will be making its debut under new coach Michael Burnett.

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  • Basketball

Bronny James, the 13-year-old son of LeBron James, has chosen Santa Monica Crossroads as his next school, TMZ Sports is reporting.

Sierra Canyon was the original favorite to land the highly touted eighth-grade son of the newest Laker, but Crossroads had been making a strong bid in recent weeks.

Shareef O’Neal, the son of former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal, attended Crossroads. He led the basketball team to a state Division II title. It also is the school that produced Baron Davis.

  • Football
Nicholas Barr-Mira of Loyola made eight of nine field goals last season.
Nicholas Barr-Mira of Loyola made eight of nine field goals last season. (Eric Sondheimer)

Nicholas Barr-Mira sometimes might have trouble being No. 1 in the family, because his older brother, Anthony, is the All-Pro linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings.

But when it comes to kicking and punting, Barr-Mira can’t be matched. He made eight of nine field goals last season for Loyola. He’s also the standout goalie for the soccer team. He’s a member of a strong class of kickers/punters in the Southland this football season.

Aaron Rodriguez of Hart won several camp punting competitions during the summer. He also has played volleyball and soccer at Hart.