Prep Rally: Can Corona Centennial and Sierra Canyon be vanquished in basketball?

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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. The basketball season begins this week. There’s lots of top teams and top players for boys and girls.

Let the season begin

Corona Centennial will be led by Duke-bound Jared McCain (right) and UCLA-bound Devin Williams.
(Nick Koza)

It’s pretty clear what the basketball season will be about. Can Corona Centennial and Sierra Canyon be toppled in their respected boys and girls divisions?


They are the favorites. Both are loaded with talented returnees from last season’s state championship teams.

Harvard-Westlake, Sierra Canyon, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Santa Ana Mater Dei and St. John Bosco are potential challengers in boys. Etiwanda, coming off a 29-1 season, will be Sierra Canyon’s top opponent in girls.

Here’s the preseason top 25 for boys basketball.

Here’s the preseason top 25 for girls’ basketball.

Here’s the boys’ basketball tournament schedule that begins Monday.

Building an empire

Corona Centennial High's Jared McCain posing at a Champs photoshoot.
Corona Centennial High’s Jared McCain posing at a Champs photoshoot.
(Courtesy of Champs Sports)

Voices of a generation reach call out, shouting his name, a swell lifting the golden boy at every step.

“Jared!” they yell, jostling for an autograph or photo. “Jared!”

Even when 250 miles from his home, representatives fans from a legion of 1.7 million TikTok followers flock to Corona Centennial High guard Jared McCain. They hang on every crossover move, every three-point heave, falling all over themselves in the stands at a preseason game in Las Vegas as the Duke commit dominates.


As McCain makes his way from the locker room, trying to leave Bishop Gorman High’s gym, fans swarm him. He smiles at them all, his girlfriend gripping his back as if they’re squirming through a pulsating music-festival crowd.

“You really don’t get used to it,” McCain said, beaming. “Everywhere you go, I’m thinking, ‘Walk in the gym, nobody’s really going to say anything.’ ”

That smile is his signature, an eyes-crinkling ear-to-ear grin. It’s launched an empire, a massive social following leveraged into groundbreaking name, image and likeness deals with Champs Sports, Lemon Perfect, and Crocs.

Here’s a look at McCain’s rising profile.

Profile in Courage

Los Alamitos High football long snapper Carson Fox.
Los Alamitos High football long snapper Carson Fox. Fox wears a prosthetic a year after losing his left leg to a rare form of cancer.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

He bends and grips the laces of the football, entering a unique lunge the moment before he snaps the ball between his legs.


Los Alamitos’ Carson Fox walks with a prosthesis on his left leg, extending above the knee. It can’t bend and lock efficiently — a problem, since that’s how snappers generate power to hike the ball. There’s no instruction manual for this. He’s just had to mess around with a football in the backyard to figure this out.

So, on Friday nights at short snapper for one of the best teams in the Southern Section, the junior props his prosthesis straight out at an angle. He plants his left heel on the ground, points his toes to the sky and leans most of his weight on his right leg. As he thrusts the ball, his right leg locks.

And the snaps, coach Ray Fenton said, are impeccable.

“The position he gets in to snap the ball, I can’t do that,” Fenton said. “But he has such determination and grit that he’s gonna make it work.”

An inspiring story on a player who didn’t let cancer stop his football aspirations.

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Football rewind

Peyton Waters of Birmingham looks like he's going to make a great catch. He does to make an interception against Venice.
(Craig Weston)

It was a crazy opening weekend for the City Section Open Division football playoffs. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds were eliminated The No. 3 seed won 25-24. Here’s a look at the parity.

One of the best games was Birmingham’s 28-27 double-overtime win over Venice. Here’s the report.

Eagle Rock eliminated No. 1-seeded San Pedro in overtime 38-31. Here’s the report.

Close to 10,000 fans filled Veterans Stadium to see Los Alamitos knock off Long Beach in a Southern Section Division 1 openers. Here’s the report.


Longtime Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson announced he would retire at the conclusion of the season. Here’s the report and also his comment after a playoff win over JSerra.

Here’s this week’s semifinal schedule for the Southern Section and the City Section.

Signing day

Wednesday was early signing day for dozens of Southern California high school athletes in sports other than football.

Here’s the link to highlights from signing day.

Girls’ golf

Leigh Chien of Santa Margarita shot 5-under-par to win the Southern California girls' golf regional.

Santa Margarita won the Southern California high school girls’ golf team championship, led by Leigh Chien, who won the individual title.

Santa Margarita will go for a state title on Thursday in San Gabriel.

Girls’ volleyball

Mira Costa and Sierra Canyon continued their exceptional matches in the Southern California regional girls’ volleyball tournament, with Mira Costa prevailing in five sets to advance to Tuesday’s regional final against Cathedral Catholic.

Here’s the report.

Here are Tuesday’s final matchups.

The state championships matching Northern California against Southern California is Saturday.

Water polo

Newport Harbor repeated as Southern Section Open Division boys’ water polo champions with a 10-9 win over JSerra.


Here’s the report.

Here’s the link to championship scores.

Palisades won the City title.

Notes . . .

L.A. Cathedral has hired Jalonick “Lonnie” Davis from Golden Valley to be its track and field coach. . . .

Mater Dei receiver Jordan Onovughe has committed to Colorado. . . .

The Southern Section and City Section cross-country finals will be on Saturday. The Southern Section is at Mt. SAC and the City Section is at Pierce College. . . .

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame announced the death of freshman baseball coach Darren Norris after a bout with cancer. The former Chatsworth pitcher had an influential relationship with a number of seniors in the program. “He was a bright light that could have been at Notre Dame for many years,” said Peter Ocko, whose son plays for the Knights.

From the archives: USC vs. UCLA

Zach Charbonnet with Oaks Christian in 2018
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s USC vs. UCLA week in football and a good time to look back on players from their high school days.

Here’s a 2018 story on UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet at Oaks Christian.

Here’s a 2021 story on USC defensive back Ceyair Wright at Loyola.

Here’s a 2019 story on UCLA backup quarterback Ethan Garbers at Corona del Mar.

Here’s a 2018 story on USC defensive lineman Korey Foreman at Corona Centennial.


From the Sacramento Bee, a story on top basketball prospect Andrej Stojakovic picking Stanford over UCLA.

From ESPN, a story on the impact of Sierra Canyon girls’ basketball player Juju Watkins.

From NBC Los Angeles, a story on a Quartz Hill football player saved by his grandmother after an accident.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former Etiwanda standout guard Jaylen Clark‘s defensive strength for UCLA.

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, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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