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  • Basketball
Sophomore guards Kenneth Simpson Jr. (left) and Keith Higgins Jr. have led Chaminade to a 15-3 record going into its Mission League opener.
Sophomore guards Kenneth Simpson Jr. (left) and Keith Higgins Jr. have led Chaminade to a 15-3 record going into its Mission League opener. (Eric Sondheimer)

Mission League basketball action begins on Friday with three outstanding openers: Sherman Oaks Notre Dame at Harvard-Westlake, Crespi at Chaminade, Alemany at Loyola.

All could be overtime games. There’s that much parity in the league. St. Francis, at 16-2, has a bye.

There’s a big change this season. Teams are playing each other only once. There will be a tournament at the end of the season, with the top four teams playing for the right to play in a championship game and the bottom three teams playing in a round robin format.

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Jordan Brinson of Westchester was named Beach Ball Classic MVP on Monday. Last season he was trying to score against Kirk Smith of Fairfax.
Jordan Brinson of Westchester was named Beach Ball Classic MVP on Monday. Last season he was trying to score against Kirk Smith of Fairfax. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

New Year’s Eve in Myrtle Beach, S.C., proved to be quite a moment for the Westchester High basketball team on Monday night.

The Comets (13-1) held on for a 42-41 win over Ky. Scott County in the championship game of the Beach Ball Classic.

Jordan Brinson, who scored 19 points, was named tournament MVP. Kaelen Allen made two free throws in the final 30 seconds to give Westchester the lead. Then the Comets played good enough defense to pull out the victory.

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“Nobody told me to lose weight," Daniel O'Neil said. "I just wanted to do it for myself.”
“Nobody told me to lose weight," Daniel O'Neil said. "I just wanted to do it for myself.” (O'Neil family)

When Daniel O’Neil showed up at Grant High as a freshman, he was 5 feet 7 and weighed 236 pounds. He was a benchwarmer on the freshman-sophomore basketball team.

Three years later, he’s 6 feet and 175 pounds. His loss of weight was a major reason he was able to make a school-record 11 threes last week and finished with 44 points in a game against Palmdale.

“I used to eat a lot,” he said. “Nobody told me to lose weight. I just wanted to do it for myself.”

As a sophomore, he started going with his father to the gym in the morning, stopped eating carbohydrates and drank a gallon of water each day. The weight began to come off. No more breaded chicken.

He was 200 pounds by his junior year and gained quickness and stamina.

Now he can help teammates who are overweight.

There always seems to be questions whether someone really moves residences and tries to transfer.

The Southern Section has put together a new checklist that will be the standard whenever a parent moves and a school must approve the transfer for an official change of residence.

This way, both the school and the parent will be protected.

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Westchester (10-1) has advanced to Monday’s championship game of the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., after pulling out a 47-45 win over Texas North Crowley on Saturday night.

Kaelen Allen scored 14 points and Jordan Brinson and Jeremiah Turley added 12 apiece.

Sierra Canyon 66, Florida University 52: The Trailblazers won the Les Schwab tournament in Oregon. Scotty Pippen Jr. made six threes and had 26 points. Cassius Stanley added 16 points.

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There was no stopping 7-foot junior Evan Mobley of Rancho Christian on Friday in the Platinum Division semifinals of the Classic at Damien.

He had 32 points and 20 rebounds to help Rancho Christian defeat Chino Hills 79-52. Rancho Christian (13-1) will play Corona Centennial (14-2) in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. championship game.

Centennial handed Fairfax its first defeat 68-61. Jaylen Clark and DJ Davis each scored 15 points. Paris Dawson had 13 points and Courtland Moffatt added 11 points. Ethan Anderson led Fairfax (12-1) with 23 points and Ronald Mitchell had 19.

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Alemany and Colony engaged in a basketball thriller on Friday at Damien High in the semifinals of the Gold Division. It went to four overtimes before Jonathan Daniels made a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Alemany an 88-87 victory.

Sedrick Altman scored 38 points for Colony before fouling out. Daniels had 23 points. Brandon Whitney finished with 25 points and 10 assists. Chigozie Achara had 17 points and 20 rebounds. Alemany will play Valencia in the Gold Division final on Saturday.

Valencia 75, Santa Monica 56: Jake Hlywiak had 18 points for the Vikings.

Daniel O’Neil, a senior guard for Grant, set a school record on Thursday by making 11 threes in the Lancers’ 83-42 win over Palmdale in the Hart tournament. He finished with 44 points. Grant improved to 9-2.

At Myrtle Beach, S.C., Westchester defeated North Mecklenburg 54-44. Jordan Brinson scored 14 points and Kaelen Allen 13.

Santa Ana Mater Dei 76, Wa. Roosevelt 46: Ryan Evans led the Monarchs with 19 points.

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Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills walks off with his left ankle receiving ice treatment on Thursday night.
Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills walks off with his left ankle receiving ice treatment on Thursday night. (Eric Sondheimer)

For three quarters on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Classic at Damien, Santa Margarita was within two points of No. 2-ranked Rancho Christian and hanging tough behind 6-foot-11 Shengzhe Li, guard Kendall McHugh and forward Jake Kyman.

The only problem, though, was that Rancho Christian’s Mobley brothers, Evan and Isaiah, were beginning to grind away and start to wear down the Eagles. And sure enough, Rancho Christian pulled away for a 63-51 victory and will play Chino Hills in Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinals.

Evan finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. His defensive presence inside in the fourth quarter left Santa Margarita with few options. Isaiah contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds. Dominick Harris, in his second game, added 12 points. Kyman led Santa Margarita with 21 points and McHugh had 16 points. The Eagles were without Max Agbonkpolo, who is recovering from an illness.

Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Kevin Kiernan has become the girls basketball coach with the most wins in state history, picking up No. 762 on Wednesday night as the Monarchs defeated Gardena Serra 69-32.

Kierman has coached at La Quinta, Troy and Mater Dei over 29 seasons. He passed former Buena coach Joe Vaughan to claim the record.

Mater Dei also has the boys basketball coach with the most victories, Gary McKnight.