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Prep Rally: Summer means seven-on-seven passing tournaments

Quarterback Travis Throckmorton of Simi Valley is headed to Oregon State.

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. Summer has arrived, which means seven on seven passing tournaments. The first high school football game of the fall season is Aug. 20, less than two months away. Let’s look ahead.

Summer football begins

Quarterback Travis Throckmorton of Simi Valley is headed to Oregon State.

Summer is upon us, and there will be some very good seven on seven football tournaments to visit in July.

One of the first tournaments was Saturday at Simi Valley High, where Oregon State-bound quarterback Travis Throckmorton of the host Pioneers showed off a powerful arm. He’s also getting help at receiver with transfers from Crespi and Grace Brethren. Santa Maria St. Joseph won the No. 1 division, defeating Bishop Alemany in the final.

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Los Alamitos is the site for another tournament on Saturday.

Probably the No. 1 tournament of the summer is the Edison passing tournament on July 3 at Edison. There are 20 teams, including St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, Los Alamitos and Servite. The play at quarterback should be outstanding. Upland is hosting a tournament on July 1.

On July 10, Mission Viejo, Bonita and St. John Bosco are each hosting tournaments. Redondo Union has a tournament July 17.

On July 24, Huntington Beach and Villa Park have tournaments. Corona Centennial and Gardena Serra are hosting competitions on Wednesdays in July.

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Recruiting offers

It’s the season of recruiting offers, decommits and visits. After more than a year of being stuck at home and unable to visit campuses unless it was done virtually, football players are off on summer trips. And recruiters are making lots of offers to underclassmen. The wild times are back.

Quarterbacks who put on their Twitter avatars that they are committed leave others wondering what’s really happening when they make visits to other schools. The recruiting game is fast and furious. Add the Transfer Portal, you understand why it can be the Wild, Wild West.

It’s fun to have options, but everyone better be careful. Lots of college players now have options whether to stay or leave. Everyone got a free redshirt year in 2020, so no one really knows whether those players will leave at the end of 2021 or stay if they have eligibility left. Coaches are guessing and could use that as an excuse to take back an offer if a player doesn’t perform well during the fall season. And don’t forget junior college players spent last season inactive and are a year older and hungrier.

It’s going to make for an unpredictable recruiting calendar for the fall of 2021. Hang on for the wild ride.

Commitment for Jakob Galloway

One of the City Section’s best football players, Banning running back Jakob Galloway, announced he has committed to San Jose State.

Galloway rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his two spring football games. He was held out the final two games after an injury to make sure he’s ready for the fall season.

Baseball

The inaugural Southern California baseball regionals begin Tuesday without Southern Section Division 1 champion Harvard-Westlake and Division 2 champion Thousand Oaks. Both opted out.

Buchanan is the No. 1 seed in Division I and hosts Bishop Amat in the opener. JSerra and Orange Lutheran are in the bottom bracket of the eight-team regional.

Here’s the link to complete pairings.

Salute to the champions

It wasn’t until 11:11 p.m. on Saturday night that the final Southern Section baseball game of the 2021 was completed. Harvard-Westlake came away with the Division 1 championship thanks to a one-hit shutout by Christian Becerra in a 3-0 victory over JSerra.

Becerra was the pitcher of the year in the Mission League and his team played flawless defense behind him. His performance was even better than Jack Flaherty’s 1-0 shutout at Dodger Stadium in 2013. Flaherty gave up six hits.

Thousand Oaks (29-1) won the Division 2 championship, rallying for a 3-2 win over Trabuco Hills. The Lancers grinded out a victory against one of the best pitchers, Mason Molina. Here’s the story.

Here’s also a look at Thousand Oaks’ top players.

San Pedro triumphs

Pitcher Dylan Kordic .
Pitcher Dylan Kordic pumps his fist and throws his hat in the air after striking out the last batter to preserve San Pedro’s victory in the City Open Division final.
(Steve Gazzulo/For the Times)

San Pedro can always be counted on to stop a San Fernando Valley streak. The Pirates did it in 1992, when Valley teams had won every City Section upper division baseball championship since 1973. And they did it again on Saturday for the first time since 1992 in beating El Camino Real 7-6 for the Open Division title.

Dom Porter delivered a decisive two-run home run and Dylan Kordic got the save.

Here’s the story of their historic victory.

Another coach steps down

If we learned anything from the months of COVID-19 restrictions and the high school sports shutdown, it’s that coaches gave a hard look about spending time with their family vs. spending time with their team. And many are deciding their families deserve attention first.

Longtime Mission Viejo baseball coach Chris Ashbach was the latest this last week to step down, calling it quits after 24 years as head coach.

Basketball

Etiwanda players celebrate 82-76 win over Sierra Canyon.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Etiwanda has broken through and finally beaten Sierra Canyon, ending an 0-5 streak vs. the Trailblazers, including 0-4 record in the playoffs.

The Eagles’ 82-76 win in the Southern California Open Division regional semifinals was big for coach Dave Kleckner. You could see the relief on his face. He took each loss personally, especially last season’s heart-breaking defeat in the regional finals when Etiwanda blew a large lead.

Here’s the report.

Then, on Saturday, Etiwanda handed Torrey Pines its first defeat after 30 consecutive victories in the Southern California Open Division regional final.

Here’s the link to complete regional results.

LaMelo Ball gets his respect

The Ball brothers (from left): Lonzo, LaMelo and LiAngelo.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

When you’re chosen NBA rookie of the year, it’s a sign of respect, and LaMelo Ball has earned it. The former Chino Hills standout had an amazing first year for the Charlotte Hornets.

All those who remember his days as a freshman, sophomore and junior for Chino Hills know he had it in him. He was always an entertainer but also a good basketball player who proved his talent.

Nick Halic speaks

Birmingham basketball coach Nick Halic was the guest on episode No. 43 of “Friday Night Live.” He talked about guiding the Patriots to the Open Division championship and his admiration for Westchester coach Ed Azzam.

Centennial triumphs

Centennial's Jayda Curry shoots a 3-pointer over Mater Dei’s Brooke Demetre (left) and Ayana Johnson.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Corona Centennial got its revenge for a heartbreaking 83-80 overtime loss to Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Southern Section Open Division girls’ final by beating the Monarchs 65-51 in the regional final.

Here’s a report from the game. The Huskies’ Jayda Curry came through in her final high school game.

Honor for Lorenzo Hernandez

Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez, using his virtual background, is the Rams' coach of the year.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Garfield football coach Lorenzo Hernandez was presented as the coach of the year by the Los Angeles Rams. His program also received a $5,000 equipment grant.

Earlier, Rams coach Sean McVay led a virtual “Chat Talk” for SoCal high school football coaches.

It’s great to see the Rams being involved in supporting the Southern California community.

No. 1 girls’ soccer player

To no one’s surprise, sophomore Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake has been named the Gatorade national girls’ soccer player of the year.

She scored an astounding 48 goals for the unbeaten Wolverines, who won the Southern Section Division 1 championship and the Southern California Division I title.

Thompson is known for her speed. She would have been a contender to win a track sprint title but had to choose between soccer and competing in the track prelims. She chose soccer.

Golf

Emiko Sverduk of Long Beach Wilson won the CIF/SCGA girls' individual golf title.
(Courtesy CIF)

Youseong Choi of Anaheim Discovery Christian shot a seven-under-par 65 at Brookside Golf Course to win the CIF/SCGA Southern California boys’ golf championship. Anaheim Servite won the team title.

Emiko Sverduk of Long Beach Wilson won the girls’ individual title with a three-under 68. Fullerton Troy took the team title.

Softball

The game of the year in high school softball might have been the Southern Section Division 2 final. It was in the ninth inning of a scoreless deadlock when junior catcher Emily Capobianco of Upland blasted a walk-off home run against the Gatorade state player of the year, Sydney Somerndike, to deliver a 1-0 victory over Villa Park.

“There are times my job does not suck,” Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod joked about getting the opportunity to see the dramatic walk-off home run.

There was more drama the night before in the Division 1 final, where Audrey Robles of Esperanza delivered the walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 3-2 victory over Eastvale Roosevelt. Here’s the report.

In the City Section Open Division final, El Camino Real pitcher Jillian Kelly tossed a five-inning perfect game in a 10-0 victory over Granada Hills, giving the Conquistadores their 17th title. Here’s the report.

Regional softball pairings

The first Southern California softball regional will take place this week, and lots of top teams opted out because club tournaments are under way. Among the schools not playing are Esperanza, Norco, Roosevelt, Chino Hills, Villa Park and Upland.

Here’s the link to regional pairings.

From the archives: All-CIF 1975

1975 All-CIF basketball team.
(LA84 Foundation)

A look at the 1975 All-CIF “AAAA” Division basketball team tells you how good Southern California high school basketball was in the 1970s. The LA84 Foundation library is the keeper of All-CIF teams if you ever want a blast from the past, and 1975 was quite a year.

The first-team selections included future pros Reggie Theus (Inglewood), David Greenwood (Verbum Dei), Bill Laimbeer (Palos Verdes), Paul Mokeski (Crespi), Brad Holland (Crescenta Valley), James Hardy (Long Beach Jordan) and Roy Hamilton (Verbum Dei).

Now that’s a tough All-CIF team to make and an all-star team you’d want to travel around the country with. Theus, Laimbeer, Holland, Mokeski and Greenwood all became coaches besides NBA players.

Reflections on Ed Azzam

Ed Azzam, head basketball coach at Westchester since 1979.
(Nick Koza)

After 42 years as basketball coach at Westchester, Ed Azzam coached in his final game. The Comets lost to Ribet last week, leaving Azzam with a 932-287 record and 15 City Section titles.

Here’s some reflections from his 42 years.

Tennis

The Southern Section boys’ individual champion is Masato Perera from Santa Barbara San Marcos. He defeated top-seeded Alex Michelson of Aliso Niguel 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Seal Beach.

Perera was later honored as the Southern California High School Male Most Valuable Tennis Player at a USTA awards ceremony.

Track

The City Section has one of the most talented sophomores anywhere. Dijon Stanley of Granada Hills showed off his speed at the track and field championships, winning the 400 in 48.54, the 200 in 22.13 and leading the 400-meter relay team to victory.

Stanley already has earned himself respect as one of the top running backs during the spring football season. Dorsey athletes also turned in standout performances, with junior Collin Harris winning the long jump at 23-0 3/4 and grad Markus Mundy winning the 800.

Carson dominated the girls’ championships. Sophomore Reign Redmond cruised to victories in the 100 in 11.93 and 200 in 25.01. Here’s the link to the complete results.

Arcadia High will be the site Friday and Saturday for an invitational that is being marketed as the unofficial state championships.

Memories of 2020-21

It feels like summer has officially arrived in the high school sports world. Scorching temperatures. Football camps. Baseball showcases. Club softball games. AAU basketball events. Trips to Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina.

So how come there’s an alternative universe with 18- and 19-year-old graduates still playing for their high school teams?

Welcome to the final week of the strangest sports season ever, 2020-21, when COVID-19 almost drove athletic directors into exhaustion trying to figure out schedules, COVID-19 safety protocols and how to use facilities when 19 sports were being played at the same time.

“I told my superintendent I’m throwing my phone into the deep end of the pool and don’t bother to contact me,” Corona Centennial athletic director Bill Gunn said.

A look at how far we came.

Recommendations

From Yahoo Sports, a story on the NCAA investigating allegations of Arizona State recruiting violations during COVID-19 restrictions.

From the Washington Post, a high school crew team shows the ultimate act of sportsmanship, giving away its gold medals.

From Azcentral.com, a story on the Section 7 Team Camp in basketball.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on the life and death of former Mater Dei and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan.

Tweets you might have missed

Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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