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Prep Rally: Basketball coach Jarvis Turner puts together a historic tournament

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. Last week’s Beverly Hills basketball tournament was historic. All 16 head coaches for the teams participating were Black. Many had won championships. And Beverly Hills coach Jarvis Turner planned it all.

Historic tournament

Beverly Hills coach Jarvis Turner said he purposely put together his 16-team tournament with all talented Black head coaches.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Jarvis Turner, the basketball coach at Beverly Hills High, put together a historic tournament this last week. All 16 teams participating had Black head coaches. And many have coached championship teams.

“I wanted to create a platform for my brothers,” Turner said. “We have a lot of good coaches. They don’t get enough love.”

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From Ryan Bailey of Brentwood to Nick Halic of Birmingham, from Ed Waters of Crenshaw to James Mosley of Santa Clarita Christian, everyone was understanding what this tournament meant.

“I don’t know if you could do this when I was playing,” Halic said. “It means a lot.”

Said Bailey: “It’s really cool and good to be a part of. There is progress and hopefully more doors are opened. It shows we can coach at a high level. I respect every coach in this tournament.”

Crossroads defeated Santa Clarita Christian to win the championship.

JD Wyatt grows up

Freshman JD Wyatt and his father, Joe.
Freshman JD Wyatt and his father, Joe, after JD made 10 threes and scored 33 points in El Camino Real’s overtime loss to San Diego.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

JD Wyatt has been hanging out with his father, Joe, the basketball coach at El Camino Real, seemingly since he could shoot a basketball. He’s now a freshman at El Camino Real. He was supposed to be playing only on junior varsity but got pulled up to varsity when the Royals had some injuries.

So understand the special moment that took place when JD made 10 threes and finished with 33 points off the bench in El Camino Real’s 74-69 overtime loss to San Diego in the Beverly Hills tournament.

He was throwing up and making threes as if he were a 14-year-old LaMelo Ball.

His father looked on proudly even though his team lost. His son shot the ball with great confidence. The future looks bright.

Bryce Young: Heisman Trophy winner

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young poses for a photograph after winning the Heisman Trophy.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young poses for a photograph after winning the Heisman Trophy, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Bryce Young, who grew up in Pasadena, was tutored by his father Craig and played football at Santa Ana Mater Dei and Los Angeles Cathedral, won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday after performing at the highest level as a quarterback for Alabama.

He becomes the third Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Mater Dei, joining John Huarte in 1961 and Matt Leinart in 2001. The school has a Heisman Lane, so the sign will have to be updated.

During his freshman and sophomore seasons, before he transferred to Mater Dei, the signs of Young’s unique qualities as an athlete and a person could be seen at Cathedral by coach Kevin Pearson and Brother John Montgomery, the principal.

Here’s a look at Young’s journey.

Football rewind

Gardena Serra coach Scott Altenberg (left) and quarterback Maalik Murphy.
Gardena Serra coach Scott Altenberg (left) and quarterback Maalik Murphy celebrate with smiles after Division 1-A state championship.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

In the middle of a pandemic, in a time of intense political and social disagreements, and during a period when many families were suffering emotionally and financially, the 2021 high school football season somehow was completed Saturday night.

It was 16 weeks of uncertainty, 16 weeks of hope, 16 weeks of trusting coaches, parents and school administrators to complete their assignment of making sure teenagers experienced a return to normalcy.

Nothing came easily and nothing came without choices. There were interruptions, starts and restarts, successes and failures. Yet the bottom line is that the season happened, playoffs took place for the first time since 2019, and players were allowed to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Here’s a look back at some of highlights and not so great moments.

Santa Ana Mater Dei completed a 12-0 season and won the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game with a 44-7 win over San Mateo Serra. Here’s the story detailing the Monarchs’ victory.

Gardena Serra won the Division 1-A state bowl game. Here’s the story about the Cavaliers’ climb to the top, with an unusual assist from alumnus Robert Woods.

City Section Open Division champion Birmingham traveled to Oakland to face McClymonds but the Patriots came up short, losing 54-7. Here’s the story.

Here are the complete state bowl results.

Basketball

Juju Watkins.
Juju Watkins of Sierra Canyon.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Sierra Canyon (9-0) and Mater Dei (6-0) are rolling in girls’ basketball. Sierra Canyon has become so much better after gaining the eligibility of Juju Watkins. In her latest game on Saturday night, she scored 28 points and had 21 rebounds and six blocks in a 10-point win over Rosary.

Mater Dei was kind of under the radar, though the defending champion Monarchs should never be underestimated. A young team rose up to defeat Corona Centennial 60-56 in the championship game of the Troy tournament. Despite key graduation losses, the Monarchs are back.

Here’s the link to the top 20 Southern California girls’ basketball rankings. Etiwanda is No. 1.

In boys’ basketball, Crossroads won the Beverly Hills tournament and is 6-1. Damien, led by tournament MVP RJ Smith, won the St. John Bosco tournament and is 12-0.

Former Westchester coach Ed Azzam is coming out of retirement to coach middle school basketball for his former rival, Harvey Kitani of Rolling Hills Prep. Here’s the link for the story. Azzam won 15 City titles.

A look at the top 25 high school boys’ basketball teams in the Southland:

Rk. SCHOOL (W-L); Comment (last week)

1. SIERRA CANYON (9-1); Head to Hawaii this weekend (1)

2. CORONA CENTENNIAL (6-1); Quick trip to Arizona ends in victory (2)

3. DAMIEN (12-0); RJ Smith leads surging Spartans to Bosco tourney title (5)

4. HARVARD-WESTLAKE (10-1); Cameron Thrower is heating up (3)

5. MATER DEI (6-1); Knock off Etiwanda to win CdM tourney title (8)

6. ROLLING HILLS PREP (7-0); Next big game is Classic at Damien, Dec. 27 (7)

Here’s the link for complete top 25 rankings.

Birmingham’s Three Amigos

Birmingham's four-year football starters Arlis Boardingham (left), Delamonte Barnes and Carlos Rivera.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

There was a little more than two minutes left in the Southern California 3-A regional championship football game. Lake Balboa Birmingham High had a fourth and two from its own 28-yard line while clinging to a 42-35 lead over San Diego Patrick Henry. Coach Jim Rose told his offensive coordinator to go for it.

Rose knows he has one big advantage — Arlis Boardingham, Delamonte Barnes and Carlos Rivera are four-year starters and ready to take on the assignment of getting the first down.

“We’re going to win or lose with them,” Rose said.

Boardingham took the snap out of shotgun formation, handed the ball to Barnes, who ran toward the right side behind Rivera to pick up the first down. Game over. Birmingham advances to the state championship bowl game.

A look at trio of four-year starters.

Moorpark to host track finals

Moorpark's upgraded track.
(Rob Dearborn)

The Southern Section has chosen Moorpark High to be the site for its divisional track and field finals in May along with the Masters Meet.

Athletic director Rob Dearborn confirmed the selection. The divisional final will take place May 14 and the Masters Meet on May 21.

Moorpark has hosted Division 2 prelims yearly and the Division 2 finals last season when there were COVID-19 restrictions. The school has also completed an upgrade to its track. COVID-19 protocols in Los Angeles County probably pushed the Southern Section to seek a venue in Ventura County. Cerritos College, which has hosted numerous finals, hasn’t allowed outside events in the past year.

Deaf football team makes history

The football field lights turned off for the last time this season. The cameras, shutters chirping throughout game nights like an army of crickets, are gone. The reporters went home. The pads and the helmets are tucked away in storage.

No fuss. California School for the Deaf in Riverside had its greatest season in program history, drawing national attention along the way in a storybook season, undefeated through 12 games. CSDR lost in the Southern Section 8-man Division 2 championship game 74-22 to Canoga Park Faith Baptist on Nov. 27. Heartbreak. The narrative ran out of words, one chapter short.

The stream of articles and television crews has run dry. It’s basketball season now at CSDR.

Keith Adams doesn’t stand on the sidelines anymore, eyes popping out of his sockets as his hands craft deft instruction through American Sign Language to his players. The football coach sits in the school gymnasium’s stands now, watching his players trade green grass and pigskin for hardwood and leather. Passive.

“It was bizarre,” Adams said of watching the team’s first game Tuesday night. “Seeing them all on the field, and now I’m sitting back. Doing nothing.”

It’s a small school, so all but two of the football players are also on the basketball team, Adams said. Practice started two days after that Saturday loss in the title game. The world keeps turning.

Here’s the profile on the school and its players.

New Hall of Fame at Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl before a game between UCLA and Fresno State on Sept. 18, 2021.
(Thuc Nhi Nguyen / Associated Press)

The best coaches and athletes in California high school football history will be honored at the Rose Bowl with the creation of the California High School Football Hall of Fame.

The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation announced that two major pledges will establish the Hall of Fame, which will be housed at the stadium with plans to open in 2022.

According to the Legacy Foundation, “the project will be planned and founded to honor the history, quality, and overall impact of players, coaches, and integral moments that have shaped the landscape of high school football in the state.”

Here’s the link to story.

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Notes . . .

Elia Rubin of Marymount was named the Southern Section Division 1 player of the year in girls’ volleyball. Here’s the link to All-CIF teams.

Here’s the link to the All-CIF boys’ water polo teams.

Saugus junior infielder Zach Plasschaert has committed to Arizona. . . .

Camarillo sophomore pitchers Boston Bateman has committed to Arizona State. . . .

Lakewood announced that former standout player Brian Camper, who graduated in 1989, died last week. He also played at Arizona State and Long Beach State. . . .

The Los Angeles Board of Education has approved a more than $8 million upgrade for Garfield’s athletic facilities that will include a new all-weather turf football field, track and scoreboard. . . .

As part of $145-million moderation project at Taft, the Toreadors will get a new synthetic track, home bleachers, scoreboard and softball field. . . .

Catcher Ben Lee of St. Monica has committed to Cal Poly Pomona. . . .

Bishop Alemany receiver Kevin Greene has committed to Arizona.

From the archives: Ryan Turrell

Ryan Turrell, who was a basketball standout at Valley Torah in Valley Village, continues to star for Yeshiva University and earn rave reviews as the Jewish Jordan.

He scored 51 points two weeks ago against Manhattanville.

Here’s a story from March about his journey to prominence.

Here’s a story last week on what the future might hold for the 22-year-old 6-foot-7 guard.

Yeshiva has the longest winning streak in college basketball, and Turrell continues to play a major role.

Recommendations

From the Los Angeles Times, an appreciation of track promoter Al Franken.

From Slamonline, a profile of Long Beach Poly basketball coach Shelton Diggs.

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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