Prep Rally: If You Love High School Basketball, You’ll Love This Week



Hello and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s crazy high school basketball week. This means nonstop games starting on Boxing Day. The biggest tournament is the Classic in Damien with 81 teams. You can watch the games from morning until late at night. But an increase in positive coronavirus cases could also lead to an unpredictable week ahead.

Classic at Damien

The fun and the games start on Monday in Damien with the biggest and best basketball tournament. It will be four days and four nights of great games. The tournament was supposed to have 88 teams and six divisions. It has fallen to 81 as teams drop out due to COVID protocols. Tournament organizers continue to look for replacement teams.

Damien coach Mike LeDuc has used its connections with many coaches and programs to attract top teams. The Platinum Division is certainly full of quality first-round clashes. Corona Centennial is seeded # 1.

Two teams with the best young players compete against each other, Riverside Poly taking on West Ranch. The other divisions are also teeming with the best teams and best matches, especially the Gold division, where Rolling Hills Prep is seeded No.1 but will face competition from Crean Lutheran, Capistrano Valley Christian and Colony.

KDOC plans to televise the games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Bally Sports will web the Platinum Championship game on Thursday night.

Here is the link from CalHiSports which has all the tournaments taking place this week in Southland.

By the way, LeDuc led Damien to a 14-0 record and claimed his 1,000th coaching victory last week.

There is also the uncertainty of an increase in coronavirus cases. Harvard-Westlake canceled out-of-town tournaments for its sports teams this week. The Sierra Canyon girls’ basketball team canceled their game in San Diego this week due to COVID protocols. The No. 1 Etiwanda is in the same tournament.

Top 25 rankings

Sierra Canyon remains No. 1 in this week’s Top 25 Rankings by The Times.

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

Rk. SCHOOL (WL); Comment (last week)

1. CANYON DE LA SIERRA (13-1); Ramel Lloyd is MVP of the tournament in Hawaii (1)

2. CORONA CENTENARY (8-1); Seeded in Classic at Damien (2)

3. DAMIEN (14-0); Coach Mike LeDuc reached 1,000 wins (3)

4. HARVARD-WESTLAKE (13-1); COVID-19 break this week (4)

5. PREPARATION OF ROLLING HILLS (10-0); It’s time for the final exams at Classic at Damien’s (5)

6. CRÉAN LUTHÉRIEN (7-0); Sophomore Vyctorius Miller wins MVP honor (17)

Here is the link to the remaining teams.

Day of freedom for transfers

Isaiah Elohim is finally eligible to play for Sierra Canyon this week.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Transfers who had to be absent for the first half of the high school basketball season because they did not change residences are now clear to join their teams and play this week.

This means that several teams will finally be full, so beware.

Sierra Canyon, ranked # 1, will get even better with the availability of talented sophomores Isaiah Elohim by Heritage Christian and senior Jeremiah Nyarko of Saint John Bosco.

Elohim can be a great goalscorer, so he adds another weapon to the Trailblazers’ offense that’s already pretty formidable with Amari Bailey, Ramel Lloyd, Bronny james and Kijani wright.

Birmingham add transfer of all El Camino Real leagues, Brooklyn Caldwell.


Jeremy dent smith was the MVP as Gardena Serra won her own tournament championship with a victory over Long Beach Poly in the final.

Riverside Poly won the Covina Tournament Championship against Walnut.

Colony (11-0) went undefeated with a victory over Loyola in the championship game of the Monrovia tournament.

San Pedro beat Crenshaw to win his own tournament championship.

Etiwanda’s women’s team won the biggest tournament of all, the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona. This makes the Eagles No.1 in California and possibly No.1 in the United States.


Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake went 9-0 in freshman.

Bryce Rainer of Harvard-Westlake went 9-0 in freshman.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Baseball teams have started to get in shape with Saturday’s games and pitchers are starting to get stronger for the coming spring.

The second Harvard-Westlake student, Bryce rainer, made its winter debut. There is a lot of competition. He pitched well but also gave up a brace to another outstanding sophomore, Brayden jefferis by Hart.

Second-year Seeker Hart Ryan de la maza is the son of Roland De La Maza, who was a star in three sports at Sainte-Geneviève in the 1980s. Hart will have four sophomores in college and possibly more.

Birmingham had its three-year reign as champions City ended last season with San Pedro, but the Patriots are showing signs of a return to a stable pitching team that created inconsistencies last season. Ricky martinez, Daniel Flores and Chris Romero will be asked to provide mound support to support top hitters Gavin taylor, Alex Olvera and Dom Cervantes.


Hamilton footballer Omar Garcia has scored 58 goals during his career.

Hamilton footballer Omar Garcia has scored 58 goals during his career.


Omar García Hamilton is off to a productive start in his final year. He has scored 10 goals in eight games. He has 58 goals in his career.

Chapman University will be the site starting Tuesday for a best boys tournament that will feature Servite, LA Cathedral, Loyola, Orange Lutheran and St. Paul among the Southern California teams.

El Camino Real advanced in the Ralph Brandt tournament which resumes this week.

The Harvard-Westlake women’s football team withdrew from a tournament in Texas when the school decided not to allow any out-of-town sports due to the increase in coronavirus cases.

Remarks . . .

Martin soto is South East’s new football coach. He was previously at La Puente and Bassett. . . .

St. John Bosco has announced the schedule for its one-day basketball event on January 17th. . . .

Old orange Lutheran football player Terrence Brun is Cal’s new defensive back coach.

Mater Dei silence

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson celebrates after his team beat Servite to claim the Division 1 title.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson celebrates after his team beat Servite to claim the Division 1 title.

(Nick Koza)

Hoisted on the shoulders of his players, cool necklaces piled high around his neck, Bruce rollinson watched thousands of loyal fans who braved the 48-degree temperatures to watch Mater Dei High win his third state football championship in five years.

A song – “Rollo! Rollo! »- began to resonate in the stands.

But rather than stay on the pitch for post-game interviews with his star players, Rollinson was quickly turned away by a group of security guards and assistant coaches when reporters approached him.

The Monarchs’ resounding victory on December 11 capped a month of external review for Rollinson and the school’s legendary athletic program, following a lawsuit that accuses Mater Dei and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange of attempting to cover up a violent altercation in the locker room which left a player with a head trauma.

Allegations of scandals in schools often lead to student protests, petitions circulated by former students, and other calls for change. Not at Mater Dei, which has one of the best high school football programs in the country.

Employees, parents, students and the diocese have largely closed ranks. Supporters and employees of the football program, a central fundraising center, have fallen back on a wall of practiced silence.

A look at the influence of Mater Dei, where the money and prestige come from.

Extract from the archives: Thomas Welsh

UCLA center Thomas Welsh, center, gestures after scoring against USC in 2017.

UCLA center Thomas Welsh, center, gestures after scoring against USC in 2017.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Former Loyola High and UCLA Center Thomas Welsh plays in Taiwan for the New Taipei Kings professional basketball team.

The Welshman was the 58th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

He’s a 7-footer who has developed full play during his four years at Loyola.

Here’s a 2017 interview with the former Loyola coach Jamal adams about the rise of Welsh at UCLA.

Here’s a 2018 interview about the end of his time at UCLA.

Welsh became a McDonald’s All-American in Loyola. He was one of the Cubs’ most consistent shooters on the free throw line.


From the Washington Post, a story about eight basketball teams from seven states playing in a single league.

From the Sacramento Bee, take a look at a man who spent 44 years coaching football and basketball.

From the Seattle Times, the story of a high school basketball player who left for prep school, then decided to return to his neighborhood school in Seattle.

Tweets you may have missed

Until next time…

Have a question, comment or something you would like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Write to me at [email protected], and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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