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Athletes of the Week

| Sports | July 19, 2018

Monique Febles

Monique Febles is entering her junior year at Saugus High School. Febles has shown signs of improvement throughout the summer with her scoring. In the Palm Desert Tournament, Febles started the tournament hot, scoring 22 points in the first game and averaging 12 points in the game, while the Centurions finished 2-3 overall in the tournament.

Bobby Garcia

Saugus’ lefty pitcher Bobby Garcia pitched the Centurions to a 4-0 victory in the VIBL Championship game against El Camino Real on Saturday night. Racking up 10 K’s on the day, Garcia finished the game throwing a one-hitter in the complete game shut-out win for the Cents.

 

Special Athlete of the Week – Keri Hartmann

| Sports | July 19, 2018

Keri Hartmann has been participating in the local Special Olympics program for the past 20 years.

She started in 1998 at the age of nine, when the organization was new to Santa Clarita. Since that time, Keri has competed in almost all the 16 sports offered.

Although Keri likes all the sports, she is a regular athlete in the tennis and bowling programs. Most recently, Keri practiced with the newly created flag-football program, where she enjoyed learning new skills.
Keri loves the pageantry of attending a Special Olympics Opening Ceremony. Clearly, her favorite thing is to give high-fives to all the volunteers lining the parade route. “Keri loves being able to walk with the parade of athletes. You can tell she is quite proud to be able to represent this organization,” said coach Christina Lopez.

When she’s not practicing with Special Olympics, Keri enjoys attending a special needs dance class at Dance Studio 8, where she has danced for 14 years. She also volunteers at the Special Olympics office, as well as Shelter of Hope. news

The King of Thrones Arrives in Los Angeles

| Sports | July 19, 2018

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Lakers have a long and storied history of winning, but in recent years, since the last major star Kobe Bryant retired after the 2015-2016 NBA, the Lakers have struggled to find a leader. Worry no more, Lakers fans, the king has arrived. After signing a four-year deal with the Lakers worth $153.3 million on July 9, LeBron James will officially be the next superstar to suit up for the 16-time champion franchise.

Missing the playoffs for the past five seasons, the Lakers have watched as James not only reached the playoffs, but played in eight straight NBA finals, winning three out of eight championships. Creating cap space by trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr., coincidently to James’ former team the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft (Moe Wagner), the Lakers continued the process that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka set out to do in their “three-year” plan.

After signing the first piece of the next possible super team, the Lakers’ next line of duty was to add key players and pieces around James which would allow him to not only make it to the playoffs, but make a run at the two-time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. With the additions of Lance Stephenson, an astute defender that can help guard the opposing team’s best player JaVale McGee, an upbeat rim-protecting high-flying center, and Rajon Rondo, a proven veteran who can take command of the offense and provide some leadership for the rest of the young Los Angeles core, along with the re-signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who stays on for his second season with the team after averaging 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season while shooting .426 from the field.

Coming off one of his greatest NBA seasons, James finished third in the NBA with 27.5 points, behind league MVP and Houston Rockets guard James Harden (30.4), as well as New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis (28.1), setting new career-highs in rebounds with 8.6 and in assists with 9.1, while playing all 82 regular reason games and reaching the NBA Finals. James will be joining a young and exciting core with the likes of Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft whose game IQ and court-vision has already drawn comparisons to some of the NBA greats, including the Lakers’ own Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd. Brandon Ingram, a lengthy small-forward or guard who has loads of potential, averaged 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Along with Kyle Kuzma, a stretch four who has proven to be effective by scoring 16.1 point and 6.3 assists per game in 31.2 minutes on the court, and Josh Hart, the second-year Villanova player who has been dominating in summer league putting up league best 24.2 points per game.

Given the new look, the Lakers roster is as intriguing as ever, with a mix of veteran role players and a group of young players who seem destined to make their mark on the storied franchise’s history. Not to say that there doesn’t need to be some improvements, but the Lakers with James seem talented enough to make a playoff run if the can put all the pieces together in time to knock off the two-time defending Champions Golden State Warriors.

It’s safe to say that with the new additions to the Lakers roster, the Lakers will look to compete for an NBA Championship and not just settle for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. But don’t count out Los Angeles out of the running to try and pick up another super-star yet, San Antonio Spur Kawhi Leonard is still available as the Lakers might look to ship off a part of their young core in exchange for Leonard, setting up a very dramatic and exciting beginning of the 2018-2019 NBA season.

The Angels and Dodgers Put on a Show to Start the 2018 Freeway Series

| Sports | July 12, 2018

The famed Freeway Series took place last week in a season that has been very different for both Los Angeles teams. The Angels have been hovering around .500 after a loss to Boston on June 28 gave Anaheim a 41-41 record. The Dodgers, conversely, rode a four-game win streak down the I-5 to take on their L.A. counterparts.

The three-game series offered its fair share of highlight moments, and a twist-ending that was hard to predict. The Angels, despite their struggles, were able to protect their field and fend off the Dodgers, winning the series two games to one.

The first game wasn’t settled until the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers held a 2-1 lead and needed just one more out to take the win. Angels pinch-hitter David Fletcher wouldn’t let his team lose that easily. He hit a single that allowed Shohei Ohtani to reach home and tie up the score. Then, Ian Kinsler took the plate and drove a walk-off single to right field, helping Anaheim snatch a 3-2 victory away from the Dodgers.

Ohtani returned to action for the first time in a month on July 3 against the Mariners. Before game three of the Freeway Series, he had registered only two hits in five outings. A bruised right knee relegated Ohtani to the bench for this match, but that didn’t stop the Angels’ sensation from making an impact.

Albert Pujols tied the game with a home run in the sixth inning. From there on out, it was Ohtani’s time to shine. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and with his lone at bat, hit a homer of his own to bring the final score to 4-3.

Game two was the only time in the series that either team won by more than one. Justin Turner ensured the Dodgers never trailed, giving his team a 2-0 lead with a single in the fifth. A Mike Trout home run made it a one score game, but Yasiel Puig’s ninth inning homer clinched the victory for the Dodgers.

July has been a rough month for the Angels offensively. After the first seven games of the month, their 19 runs scored were dead last in the MLB. The team’s collective .195 batting average was second worst in the league in that span. It comes as no surprise that Trout was their best hitter, registering a .300 batting average and six hits.

The Angles are hoping the bats come alive, because the pitching staff has been nothing short of sensational to start the month. Opposing offenses were only able to score 28 runs on Anaheim, and did so with just a .217 batting average. Andrew Heaney put on a show in the final game against the Dodgers, fanning 10 batters, and earning his fifth win.

The Dodgers suffered from anemic offense in their slow start to the season, but it appears that the team is putting it all together at the right time. At the end of the Freeway Series, the Dodgers had a collective .292 batting average, and scored 53 runs. Both of these numbers were good for third in the league. Matt Kemp continues to be a revelation in his return to Los Angeles, notching 11 hits, 11 RBIs, and a .458 batting average to start the month.

Pitching doesn’t appear to be a problem for the Dodgers either. They have allowed a batting average of .201 to opposing hitters, the lowest mark in the league. Teams have also scored 22 runs against the Dodgers in the opening week of July, the third lowest total in the MLB. Ross Stripling was the only pitcher to collect a win against the Angels, striking out seven batters in the process.

The All-Star break begins in just one week, but before it does, these two teams will square off again at Dodgers Stadium. The latest installment of the Freeway Series begins on July 13, and both ball clubs should expect to be in the same position they were last time, save for any dramatic changes.

It’s hard to anticipate what will happen when the Angels make the trip to Downtown Los Angeles, but another series win would be monumental in taking momentum into the All-Star break. The Dodgers will look to avoid losing steam themselves, since they will have five days off following their bout with Anaheim.

There is a lot at stake when these two teams meet up again. It will soon become clear which one can take the pressure, and finish the Freeway Series as Los Angeles’ top baseball team.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | July 12, 2018

Matthew Hernandez

Matthew was born six weeks early on May 25, 1990 after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. He was medically fragile and had many hospitalizations in his first year, due to congenital cardiac problems, liver failure and congestive heart failure. He had open heart surgery at 11 months, but after that, his health slowly began to improve.

When Matthew was nine years old, he joined the Antelope Valley Special Olympics Swim Team for two years and became quite a strong swimmer, earning gold medals.

When his family moved to the Santa Clarita Valley, he joined the Santa Clarita Special Olympics and played soccer for two seasons. Matthew has tried basketball, floor hockey, and volleyball and is a team player. Today, Matthew is 28 years old, strong, healthy, and he loves basketball. Basketball Coach Brad Bowers says of Matthew, “He is always, always hustling and looking to make a shot.”

His team just ended their season undefeated earning 3 gold medals.

Ally Shipman

Ally Shipman is a recently graduated member of Valencia’s softball team. Shipman was named to the Extra Innings Softball 2018 First Team. Extra Innings takes into account on-field performance, grades, and positive off-field behavior.

Shipman, who will be attending the University of Tennessee, finished the 2018 season with a .356 batting average, 31 hits, 25 RBIs, and seven home runs.

According to Valencia Softball Coach Donna Lee, Shipman’s accolades do not stop there. “Ally was also named 2018 Valencia HS Female Athlete of the year, and Daily News and Signal Sports Softball Player of the year,” Lee said.

Hayden Trowbridge

Hayden Trowbridge is an incoming junior for Saugus’ baseball team. The Centurions took an 8-7 lead into the seventh and final inning of their game against St. Francis in the Valley Invitational Baseball League (VIBL) on July 2. St. Francis scored five runs to take a 12-8 lead.

With the Centurions at bat, Nolan Kutcher scored on a wild pitch, making the score 12-9. Trowbridge then hit a triple that brought in three runs to tie the game 12-12. No more runs would be scored, and the game finished in a tie. Trowbridge finished 3-5 with four RBIs.

“Hayden (is a) hard worker, wants to be the best in whatever he does, (and a) complete joy to be around!” said Coach Carl Grissom.

Revisiting the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2018 Draft

| Sports | June 28, 2018

On May 18, I speculated on what the Clippers would do with two back to back picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Two of the top prospects that were discussed were Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Texas A&M center Robert Williams. Well, the draft finally took place on June 21, and the Clippers threw some definite curveballs that few saw coming.

Most mock drafts had Los Angeles selecting Gilgeous-Alexander at number 12, and while the team wound up drafting him, the pick came in the form of a trade with the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets held the 11th pick in the draft, which they gave to Los Angeles for pick number 12 and two second round draft picks. The Clippers got the guy they wanted in Gilgeous-Alexander, and Charlotte got the prospect they coveted in Miles Bridges.

For those who don’t remember, Gilgeous-Alexander is a 6 foot 6 inch point guard that gives Los Angeles a ton of length at that position. He does most of his scoring damage inside the paint, where he can penetrate with the help of an array of moves that get defenders out of position.

Once in scoring position, Gilgeous-Alexander can finish through contact, or pass to an open player when facing a double-team. His long arms come in handy on the defensive end, as he is able to read passing lanes and record steals. In his lone season at Kentucky, he averaged 1.65 steals per game.

With the 13th pick, the Clippers chose a player few were talking about in Boston College point guard Jerome Robinson. The decision to take another guard with an already stacked backcourt may seem confusing, but Robinson has all the makings of a modern NBA wing player.

Robinson stands at 6 foot 6 inches and has the ability to play on and off ball. With the ball in his hands, he too can make his way to the rim and finish through contact, like Gilgeous-Alexander. Robinson is also unafraid to take contested jump shots off the dribble. This will allow the Clippers to run isolation plays through Robinson, when he is ready to be inserted into the regular rotation.

Off ball, Robinson is a good catch and shoot option. His true shooting percentage in his final year at Boston College was 61 percent, showing his potential as a reliable scorer. He averaged 20 points per game, and did so with an offensive rating of 116.8 points per 100 possessions. In other words, Robinson knows how to put the ball in the basket, and does so at an elite level.

With Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson both coming in, the Clippers have begun the work of clearing up the logjam developing at the guard position. Starting shooting guard Austin Rivers was recently traded to the Washington Wizards for center Marcin Gortat. Gortat will act as insurance, in case Deandre Jordan decides to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

This may signal Los Angeles’ confidence in Robinson to earn a spot in the regular rotation sooner rather than later. Currently, the only two shooting guards in front of him are 2018 Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, and Sindarius Thornwell, who averaged 15.8 minutes in his rookie season.

The path for Gilgeous-Alexander to see regular playing time seems pretty clear as well. He currently sits behind Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic at the point guard position, but the trade of Rivers makes it apparent the Clippers want to make room for their rookies to contribute as soon as possible.

This means Teodosic may be on his way out. He never figured to be part of Los Angeles’ long term plans, but opted in to his $6.3 million contract. If the Clippers can find a trade partner to take Teodosic off their hands, Gilgeous-Alexander will find himself second in the point guard rotation. If Teodosic stays with the team, it’s more than likely Gilgeous-Alexander supplants him on the depth chart anyways.

Los Angeles is clearly trying to build a team that will contend for a championship in the future, rather than the now. Gortat ensures the Clippers will have a starting-caliber center this season, at the conclusion of which, he will be an unrestricted free agent. This means, come 2019-2020, Los Angeles will have $72.5 million in cap space to fill out their roster with either, a big name free agent, or multiple serviceable role players.

The Clippers’ roster is in a state of flux at the moment. No player appears to be safe from the trading block, save for Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson. It seems Los Angeles has faith that these two can be foundational players to build around, and are actively trying to carve out playing time for both of them to develop.

Everything appears to be chaotic at the moment, but there is a definite sense of direction that should be reassuring. By the time the monolith that is the Golden State Warriors begins to decline, it is possible a young and finely-crafted Clippers team will be there to take Golden State’s place.

Athlete of the Week: Tamara Wilson

| Sports | June 22, 2018

Tamara Wilson was born with Noonan Syndrome, autism, and craniosynostosis. She started participating in the Special Olympics when she was 13, and has played and tried almost every sport offered, including softball, swimming, floor hockey, volleyball, bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, and soccer. Now 26 years old, Tamara is in track, as well as her new favorite sport, basketball.

Tamara’s basketball coach, Sheridan Smith said, “Tam is an amazing athlete and person. Although this was Tam’s first year playing basketball with the Diva Sharks, she was determined from day one to become a better basketball player. She is eager to learn, which makes it no surprise that Tam has been the most improved player this season.”

Tamara played an important part in the Diva Sharks win of the silver medal at the Long Beach State Games.

Athletes of the Week – Jonathan Bahr and Mariah Castillo

| Sports | June 15, 2018

Jonathan Bahr is a junior member of the Saugus Boys Baseball Team. He recently went 3-3 with two RBIs in the Centurions’ 6-1 over Granada Hills Charter in the second game of the VIBL season.

“He is a great person on and off the field,” Coach Carl Grissom said. “It’s a pleasure to have him on the team. (He’s) also a tremendous student!”

 

Mariah Castillo recently graduated from Saugus High School and ran for Saugus’ track and field team. She came in first place during the girls mile run at the Brooks PR Invitational with a time of 4:41.40. This was good for the eighth fastest time in California history, and sets a new Saugus and Foothill League record.

New Dodgers Weekend Game Night Train Service on the Metrolink

| Sports | June 14, 2018

Santa Clarita Baseball Fans Now Have a Late Metrolink Service to Downtown L.A.

The Metrolink Board of Directors recently approved special weekend Metrolink train services to Los Angeles Dodgers home games on the San Bernardino and Antelope Valley lines. Services became available throughout the 2018 MLB seasons as of Friday, June 8. As a result, there will be one train that will run on the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines, after the last scheduled train, on select Friday and Saturday nights that the Dodgers play. The Friday night special trains on the San Bernardino Line will only make stops between Union Station and Claremont, while the special trains on the Antelope Valley Line will make all stops.

By offering train services to these games, baseball fans can depend on a safe, affordable and reliable ride to and from the home games, while leaving their car at home, resulting in a reduction of emissions and traffic congestion. The price for a round trip ride is $10.00. For information on the dates and anticipated train schedule for the special Dodgers train service, visit metrolinktrains.com/baseball.

“While the service is designed for those attending Dodger home games, this is a very exciting new opportunity for all Santa Clarita residents. They can now easily hop on the Antelope Valley line for a night out in Downtown Los Angeles,” said Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, who has been pressing for additional Metrolink services and specifically for the need of late night, weekend services.

For more information on the new service, contact Jeanet Owens from Metro at (213) 922-6877, or atowensj@metro.net, or Alex Davis from Metrolink at (213) 452-0320 or at davisa@scrra.net.

Los Angeles Angels Looking for Answers as Shohei Ohtani’s Season in Jeopardy

| Sports | June 14, 2018

The sudden success of Shohei Ohtani seems to have been cut short by an announcement that seemed to come just as suddenly. On June 8, it was announced Ohtani would be placed on the 10-day disabled list for a grade 2 sprain to his right ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). On June 10, it was speculated he would need Tommy John surgery to repair said ligament, which would end both his 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Ohtani captivated not only Angels fans, but the baseball world, with his abilities as both a hitter and a pitcher. Dubbed “The Japanese Babe Ruth,” Ohtani dominated the Pacific League in Japan, and was named the league’s MVP in 2016. Although it took Los Angeles sometime to figure out how to best utilize their versatile weapon, Ohtani had a huge impact on the team almost any time he took the field.

The beautiful thing about the wins above replacement (WAR) stat, is that it gives a metric to quantify just how impactful a starter is. As a pitcher, Ohtani accounted for an average of one win more than a replacement pitcher would produce. Delving deeper into his stats, it’s easy to see why.

In nine starts, Ohtani earned a 4-1 record, making him one of just two starting pitchers on the team to suffer only a single loss. His 3.10 ERA was the third lowest amongst all starters as well. Ohtani made it nearly impossible for batters to figure out what pitches were coming. He could toss a 100 mile per hour fast ball, before throwing a splitter for a change of pace. He allowed just 36 hits in his time on the mound, second lowest of the pitching rotation.

Sticking with the WAR metric, Ohtani proved himself a worthy hitter as well. He again accounted for an average of one more win than a replacement batter, and did so with only 114 at bats, 10th most on the team. In fact, only Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, and, of course, Mike Trout had a higher WAR than Ohtani on the Angels. For those unfamiliar with Trout, his 5.4 WAR is easily the highest in the MLB.

Ohtani made the most of his limited appearances at the plate, earning the third highest batting average on the team at .289, and third highest on base percentage at .372. Ohtani truly broke out in a three game stretch from April 3-6. He hit a home run in each of these three games, had seven RBIs, and finished the stretch with a .421 batting average. Los Angeles went on to win all three of these games.

The loss of Ohtani does leave large holes to fill in both the pitching and hitting rotation, but it has opened the door for another young player to make a name for himself. With Albert Pujols resuming his spot as the team’s designated hitter, first baseman Jose Fernandez is getting his moment to shine. So far, the results have been promising both offensively and defensively.

Fernandez received his first start at the beginning of the Angels’ most recent series with the Minnesota Twins. Fernandez finished the three game series, which Los Angeles won 2-1, going 4-6 with one RBI and a .444 batting average. On defense, Fernandez maintained a perfect fielding percentage, logging 14 putouts, and one assist on 15 chances. He also turned a double play in Los Angeles’s 2-1 win over Minnesota on June 9.

While Fernandez’s hot start is a pleasant surprise, it doesn’t take away the fact that Ohtani is potentially facing a serious procedure that doesn’t guarantee he will return the same player. To quell these fears, look to the example of Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg took the nation by storm as a rookie in 2010, only to be lost the same injury Ohtani currently faces. In 2011, he returned to pitch just 24 innings, but has bounced back throughout his career, and enjoyed his most successful season in 2017. Last year, Strasburg recorded a 15-4 record, had an ERA of 2.52, and allowed just 49 hits and 13 home runs. He also earned his third All-Star game bid, the first two coming in 2012 and 2016.

So, if Ohtani does need Tommy John surgery, which the Angels are optimistic he won’t, it doesn’t spell doom for his promising career. It is disappointing that Los Angeles could be without Ohtani for two years, but if the procedure is what he needs to ensure his future in the MLB, then it is the right call to make.

A player with Ohtani’s skill set rarely comes around, and the Angels are fortunate to have him in the fold. When he does finally return, whether it be later this season, or further down the road, Ohtani gives Los Angeles the foundation to build a championship contender upon.

Athlete of the Week – Riley Bowers

| Community, Sports | June 14, 2018

Riley Bowers had a bumpy beginning in life. He was born with Down syndrome, spent nine days in the intensive care unit with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and endured two heart surgeries – all within the first two years of his life. Flash forward to today, and he is a healthy and active athlete in the SCV Special Olympics.

Riley has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than half of his life. While he has participated in floor hockey, basketball and bowling are currently his favorite sports. His basketball team, the Blue Sharks, just ended their season with a flawless record and three gold medals. Coach and father Brad Bowers said, “Riley is not a selfish player and he takes pride in his teammates when they score. He will then turn around and surprise us with a 20-footer.”

Bowling is Riley’s other favorite sport, and the Special Olympics season for this activity has just begun. A methodical and a serious approach to this sport helps Riley constantly improve his game and achieve a 130 average.

Male Athlete of the Week – Ethan Danforth

| Sports | June 8, 2018

Ethan Danforth is a junior runner for Canyon’s boys track and field team. He came in fourth place in the 3200-meter race at the CIF State Finals Meet at Buchanan High School last Saturday, logging a time of nine minutes, .30 seconds. The time marked a new record for Danforth, who beat his previous fastest time by three seconds.

Canyon Track and Field coach Paul Broneer commented on his additional achievements:

“Ethan was also the CIF Division 2 Cross Country Champion this fall, and his XC team finished 7th in the State Meet this year. He will lead next year’s team with six varsity runners returning. Ethan finished this season strong, setting five (personal records) in his last six races. He fell just .3 seconds short of his goal to break the nine minute barrier.  Very few juniors achieve this feat.”

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Athlete of the Week – Ashlee Bahr

| Sports | June 7, 2018

Ashlee is our first Special Olympics Athlete of the Week.

Ashlee Bahr suffered a stroke when she was one year old. She suffered 50-100 life-threatening seizures before having brain surgery at age 8 years old. Ashley has cerebral palsy on her left side and has to work harder than anyone just to get up in the morning and get the left side of her body to cooperate. She works out regularly to help build her strength and pushes herself to be the best she can be.

Ashlee started Special Olympics 12 years ago, training and competing in swimming. She competed at The 2015 Summer Games Invitational at USC. After a discouraging finish in which she was unable to reach the touch pad and was disqualified, Ashlee decided to put her focus into training in track and field. She will compete in the 100M Run, 200M run, shot put, and 4×100 relay in the Special Olympics Summer Games this year.

Ashley will also play softball with Special Olympics and is also a Special Olympics Global Messenger. She will be competing in the USA Games in Seattle, Washington with Team USA.

This athlete is such an inspiration, with her determination and positive attitude to not allow her disability to define her or keep her from achieving her goals.

Wendy Ellet, senior manager sports and programs, Special Olympics Santa Clarita Valley & the Tri-Valley Regions, nominated Ashley for the Margaret Thorsen Award for Most Inspirational Athlete for the 2018 Summer Games.

Comments Off on Paseo Aquatics Clubs’ Salvino, Bezanilla Among Nation’s Elite After Strong Showing At NOVA Grand Challenge

Paseo Aquatics Clubs’ Salvino, Bezanilla Among Nation’s Elite After Strong Showing At NOVA Grand Challenge

| Sports | June 7, 2018

Twelve-Year-Old Swimmers Both Take Second Place in 50-Meter Freestyle

Paseo Aquatics proved up to the task at the recent NOVA Grand Challenge that took place at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center Pool in Irvine on June 5.

Paseo’s Teia Salvino and Luke Bezanilla are now among the Nation’s Best in the 11-12 age-group. They both walked away from this meet ranked in the top 10.

Salvino took second place in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 27.50, which ranks her No. 2 in the nation. She was also second place in the 50-meter butterfly with a time of 29.63, which now ranked her No. 4 in the nation.

Salvino’s butterfly time broke the Santa Clarita Valley record previously held by Jennifer Parmenter of Canyon Aquatics (30:15), a record that stood almost 25 years.

“I started the meet sick so I felt like I got stronger each day,” said Salvino, who will be a seventh-grader at Trinity Classical Academy in Valencia in the fall. “My teammates have been pushing me to swim faster, and my goal over the summer is to be ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 50 free. I know I can do it because the girl who beat me just barely touched me out.”

Bezanilla had a swim meet to remember. He took second place in the 50-meter freestyle (27.73) and 100-meter breaststroke (1:15.67). According to Paseo Silver Group Coach Daiki Sato, what’s amazing about Bezanilla’s 100-meter time was that he started the day ranked 78th in the nation, and ended the day ranked 5th while dropping an astonishing 6.3 seconds in one afternoon.

“The 100 breastroke is my favorite stroke and I was just really mad that I hadn’t been beating the kid who I should have been beating,” said Bezanilla, an eighth-grader to-be at Arroyo Seco Middle School. “My hard work is paying off and pushing myself in my sets and racing the older kids has helped me improve my times.”

The Paseo Silver Group has now had three swimmers ranked in the top 10 in the nation within the last year, according to Sato.

Other than just the swimming, Salvino and Bezanilla made the most of their time at the swim meet interacting with Olympians such as SCV natives Abbey Weitzel and Anthony Ervin, as well as Ryan Murphy.

Los Angeles Looks to New Names as the Dodgers Attempt to Save Their Season

| Sports | June 7, 2018

Ross Stripling’s five straight strikeouts in the third and fourth innings were the icing on the cake of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 5. The victory brought LA to a 30-30 record, the first time the team had a .500 record since a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins on April 24 left Los Angeles sitting at 11-11. The big bats that many Dodgers fans expected to see all season were on display as Pittsburgh was unable to stop LA from piling on the points.

Pirates RHP Joe Musgrave came in to the match with a 2-0 record and a 0.64 ERA, but when Joc Pederson hit a two-run homer to right field in the second inning, it was clear Musgrave was in for a long night.

Matt Kemp extended the lead in the third inning, popping up a shallow sacrifice fly to left-field, allowing Curtis Taylor to find his way home. Yasiel Puig registered his seventh home run in the fourth inning, and Cody Bellinger put the nail in the coffin in the sixth inning with a single-run home run to make the final score.

Stripling has been a revelation on the mound since being pressed in to action due to the injuries suffered by a majority of LA’s starting pitching rotation. In five innings, he allowed just four hits, no earned runs, and struck out seven batters. For the season, he now has a 1.52 ERA, and a 4-1 record.

Pittsburgh saw strong play from left fielder Corey Dickerson, who went 2-4 for the evening, bringing his ERA to .316, which leads all Pirates’ starters. Pittsburgh started May off on a five-game win streak to obtain a 23-16 record, but have lost 14 of their last 21 and now sit at 30-30. After their series with LA, they go on to face the Chicago Cubs, and the Arizona Diamondbacks in a brutal six-game stretch.

The first 60 games of the year have been a rollercoaster ride for Los Angeles. Early on, it appeared as though injuries would derail a Dodgers team that finished last season as World Series runner-ups. Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw who was lost to a biceps injury on May 1, returned to throw for five innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 31, only to be lost again to a lower back strain.

Short stop Corey Seager, a two-time All-Star and 2016 Rookie of the Year, was lost for the season on April 30, after learning he would need Tommy John Surgery on his right elbow. The injuries to Kershaw and Seager alone were a mountain for the Dodgers to overcome, but compile that with the loss of pitchers Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tom Koehler, and Julio Urias, and no one would blame Los Angeles for conceding the season early.

Out of the ashes of these ailments, however, have risen new talents that, at worst, give the Dodgers incredible depth when all presumed starters return, and at best, can serve as starters for years to come.

Stripling’s emergence can’t be stressed enough. He began the season as a relief pitcher, and has made the most of his opportunity as a starter. Aside from the stats listed above, he is also second on the team in strikeouts with 66. His 1.7 wins above replacement are far and away the highest among all pitchers.

Not to be outdone, rookie RHP Walker Buehler is shining in the absence of LA’s regular starters. He boasts a 3-1 record, an ERA of 2.74, and has struck out 50 batters. His 36 hits allowed are the fewest of all active Los Angeles pitchers, but these come in just 46 innings pitched, the fewest among the active starters.

Names like Puig, Bellinger, Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal have become household names in Southern California, so it comes as some surprise that a third baseman by the name of Max Muncy has been one of the Dodgers’ best hitters as of late. In 87 at bats in the last 30 games, Muncy has amassed a batting average of .264 on 23 hits. He has also had eight home runs to go along with 20 RBIs. The only hitter to have more success in this timeframe is Kemp.
Speaking of Kemp, it appears he hasn’t missed a beat in his return to LA. After 60 games, he leads all National League batters in batting average at .344. He is also Los Angeles’ leader in every major hitting statistical category, with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and a .568 slugging percentage.

After the Dodgers finish their series against Pittsburgh, they host 36-25 Atlanta Braves. Buehler will get the start for the opening game of the series on June 8, and will have a chance to show he can perform well against a tough opponent. After Atlanta, LA takes on the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants in a five-game stretch that should help bolster Los Angeles’ improving record. That is, if the team’s recent winning ways are sustainable.

The Dodgers’ biggest flaw is in their fielding. After their win against the Pirates that brought them to a .500 record, Los Angeles is tied for 10th in errors committed with 37. Because of this, they are 21st in the MLB with a .983 fielding percentage.

Even though their defense is lacking, the Dodgers are ninth overall in runs allowed with 236. This may be due to the team’s overall pitching performance, however, as they have the 10th lowest collective ERA in the league at 3.63. They have also not allowed more than 500 total hits to opposing batters in 60 games.

Los Angeles is returning to form, and with talent coming out of the woodwork, it appears the team has some time for the regular starters to get reintegrated after recovering from their injuries. There’s still a whole lot of baseball to be played before the All-Star break, which may allow for the Dodgers to make up the ground they lost to start the season. One thing is clear – there is hope in Los Angeles again.

Santa Clarita Blue Heat Professional Women’s Soccer

| Sports | June 1, 2018

If you’re an athletics fan who prefers professional sports over AYSO or Little League, you have an opportunity for the next month and a half. The Santa Clarita Blue Heat is a professional women’s soccer team, a part of United Women’s Soccer West Conference, and winners of the 2016 National Championship.

United Women’s Soccer, or UWS, was formed in late 2015 under the belief that there was a gap in the development of the female soccer player between the collegiate game and the professional and international game. UWS filled the gap with a dedicated Tier 2 league, beginning a summer competitive season to help collegiate players evolve and enhance their game for fall competition, while giving the post-collegiate players a chance to further develop for the professional and international ranks.

Every soccer club has a “pyramid” structure with four cornerstones. For United Women’s Soccer, those are:

Development – continuing the maturation of the collegiate player

Evolution  – elevating the competition to help the player reach the next level

Exposure – media friendliness & widespread promotion of the sport

Standards  – elite teams operating with professional standards

For each United Women’s Soccer member, development is the base of their respective organizational pyramids. Each team has a full youth soccer club structure. Not only youth teams, but most UWS organizations also hold specialized positional training clinics, so the player can mature to represent the club both at the collegiate and UWS levels. UWS will serve as the top of the club pyramid for most teams, while some may affiliate with a professional soccer team as a D2 club.

UWS teams have been recognized around the globe for providing superior competition for female soccer players. With the emphasis on league standards, quality ownership, team retention and player development, UWS is elevating women’s soccer across North America.

As far as evolution goes, United Women’s Soccer aspires to be a true Division 2 league underneath the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). UWS is a national league with teams playing in regional conferences. While many collegiate players will take the field in UWS to help retain their focus as they transition from spring to fall competition, it will also help evolve their game for the “next level,” whether that is the professional ranks or the top of the women’s soccer pyramid, representing their country as an international.
UWS teams have served as affiliates for professional teams. Alumnae of UWS teams have made the jump to the professional ranks, both here in the United States and overseas. Many former professionals have also donned the uniform of UWS member teams, helping the younger players to evolve to the “next level.”

In this technological world, media exposure is more vital than ever, says the UWS Soccer website. From social media to online video (both on & off the field), an organization must be ahead of the curve when it comes to the viewing habits of the modern fan. United Women’s Soccer plans to promote the women’s game and gain a fan base that will help grow support for women’s soccer not just in the U.S. and Canada, but worldwide.

Fans can expect game webcasts and online videos featuring each team. Sports leagues that want the respect of mainstream media need up-to-date statistical information from their games.

This effort works hand-in-hand with the UWS mission to help elevate players to the “next level”: Coaches at home and around the world will be able to keep track of the game-by-game progress of their current & future players.

The first three UWS cornerstones would fail the pyramid structure without the most important one: professional standards, says the UWS site. “Standards for conduct, both on and off the field, will be maintained,” it says. “League spots will be designated to teams who meet predetermined criteria relevant to appropriate standards of facilities & infrastructure. To further develop the sport, players and fans deserve an exceptional experience. Standards ensure that positive interaction, both on & off the field.”

Applicants can contact League Director Joe Ferrara by email at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.

The Santa Clarita Blue Heat’s first home game of the season was last Saturday, and local fans can see a match live on Saturday, June 9 at The Master’s University at 6 p.m. For details, visit SCBlueHeat.com.

*Content from uwssoccer.com

Athlete of the Week

| Sports | May 31, 2018

A senior and discus thrower for Hart High School’s boys’ track and field team, CJ McMullen is the number one seed based on throws from finals meets around the state. He threw for 184, 6 inches in the CIF-SS Masters Meet at El Camino College in Torrance on Saturday, a personal best. The throw was good for first place in the event, and with the win, he qualifies for the CIF State Meet, the first appearance of his career.

“CJ is a great kid who is absolutely peaking at the right time,” said Hart High School track & field coach Keith Matkin. “He has been a leader on our team this year beyond what he has done in the ring. I think he may have snuck up on some people at the Masters Meet with the big throws. He qualified for State on his first attempt and then went big on the second. He was super excited, as were his parents, family and coaches. There is nothing automatic about going to the State Championship and I believe CJ can do some big things this weekend. Hart Indians everywhere are rooting for him!”

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Female Athlete of the Week – Natalie Ramirez

| Sports | May 24, 2018

A junior at West Ranch High School, Natalie Ramirez is a top discus and shot put thrower for the girls’ track and field team. Last week she came in first place in the CIF-SS Division 2 finals in both the discus and shot put events, throwing for 147 feet in discus and 44-08 in her fourth throw in shot put. Her wins in both categories made her the first female West Ranch athlete in program history to double in CIF-SS finals. She qualified for the CIF-SS Masters Meet held on May 26.

“Natalie is an outstanding athlete who has continued to improve throughout the season, making her one of the best throwers in the state,” said Sara Soltani, track and field coach at West Ranch, in the Gazette last year.

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Male Athlete of the Week – Jake Backes

| Sports | May 24, 2018

A junior at Trinity Classical Academy and third baseman on the baseball team, Jake Backes went 2-5 with two RBIs, including a walk off single in the eighth inning of the Knights’ 6-5 win over Valley Christian Academy. The victory in the first round of the CIF-SS Div 7 Baseball tournament, marks Trinity baseball’s first ever playoff win. Backes also excelled on defense, turning 12 total fielding chances into six assists, five putouts, and one error for a .917 fielding percentage.

“Jake Backes is an inspiration to us all, on and off the field, the way he conducts himself at practice, being one of the first to show up and one of the last to leave, doing anything we ask of him as coaches,” said Trinity baseball coach Michael Franchimone. “He’s a great example for all of us.”

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Aaron Donald’s Looming Contract Extension Problem for Rams’ Future

| Sports | May 24, 2018

It’s no longer news that the Los Angeles Rams potentially have one of the best defenses in the NFL going into the 2018 season. However, all is not perfect in La La Land, as a contract decision for one of the team’s biggest stars is looming, and it’s already causing a bit of trouble.

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles’ 2017 leader in sacks (11), tackles for a loss (7), and forced fumbles (5), is entering the final year of his rookie contract after the Rams picked up his fifth-year option. Donald is set to make nearly $7 million due to this decision, but this is just a fraction of what he is worth based on his performance on the field.

It was reported on May 21 that Donald would not be attending the Rams’ organized team’s activities, as he and his agent lobby for a contract extension. Head coach Sean McVay is aware of how important Donald is to the team, but told ESPN he is unsure when the contract dispute would be resolved.

“It is something we want to get resolved,” McVay said. “As far as a timetable, we don’t really have any dates on that.”

Although a new member of the team, cornerback Marcus Peters didn’t hold back in letting his feelings be known on the situation, imploring Los Angeles to, “pay the man.” Despite his undeniable talent, Peters was shipped from Kansas City to Los Angeles in a move that signified that the Chiefs were unable to put up with his on-field antics any longer.

Peters’ opinion on Donald’s contract is almost universally shared, but the context for his presence in Los Angeles, coupled with how unabashedly he spoke on the matter, does leave him open to criticism about his past, whether one believes this is fair or not.

To begin to get a grasp on the amount Donald will be looking to receive, let’s look to the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL, Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox. The Eagles gave Cox a six-year, $103 million contract extension with $63 million guaranteed against injuries in 2016. According to overthecap.com, he is guaranteed to make $36,299,000 over the life of the contract, and is guaranteed a base salary of $11.5 million, 10 percent of the team’s cap space, in 2018.

There is no doubt that Donald will be looking for a higher guaranteed amount than what Cox received, and while his skill level does deem him worthy, the Rams have an eye for building a perennial contender, and will have to make some tough decisions in the coming years to ensure they do.

Fourth-year running back Todd Gurley is also on his rookie contract, and is currently costing Los Angeles very little. In 2018 he is set to make just over $2 million and accounts for just 2.5 percent of the team’s cap space.

The Rams did pick up Gurley’s fifth-year option as well, giving them one more season before going through the same contract issues they currently face with Donald. However, if they pay Donald everything he is asking for now, they may not be able to afford Gurley down the line.

Then there’s third-year quarterback Jared Goff, who the Rams traded up to the number one overall pick in 2016 to acquire. Goff cemented himself as the team’s franchise quarterback in his second year, throwing for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions.

As of now, Goff is guaranteed just under $3 million for the coming season, a legitimate steal for a quarterback of his caliber. In 2019, that number will jump to slightly over $4 million, and unless the unexpected happens, the Rams will assuredly pick up his fifth-year option for 2020.

Goff’s pay day seems far off, but with Donald’s needing to come this season, Gurley’s coming next, and then Goff’s the year after, Los Angeles needs to think wisely about how they distribute their money to three very deserving players. This means sacrifices will have to be made for both team and players.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and safety Mark Barron, role players who both make strong contributions to the team, may find themselves being traded away before their contracts end, in order for L.A. to afford their cornerstone players.

Brockers will be owed just $750,000 in dead money if the Rams were to cut him before June 1 of 2019, which makes that a financially viable option as well, although a trade would allow Los Angeles to receive assets to help ensure future success.

While the Rams will be forced to let go of talented players for the sake of their superstars, their superstars may have to forsake record-breaking contracts if they want to remain with Los Angeles. This is, of course, if players like Donald believe staying in L.A. is in their best interest.

Currently, the Rams will have the second most cap space going in to the 2019 season, and are also the closest to reaching the Super Bowl of the top five teams with money to spend. Los Angeles will have over $72 million in cap space, a number that will significantly shrink if Donald is paid what he is seeking. This may not be a problem for Donald, but it will pose one to both Gurley and Goff when it comes their time to get paid.

The Jets will have the most cap space in 2019 at nearly $86 million, and unlike the Rams, will have no significant contract extensions to handout. Although New York isn’t close to being even a playoff contender at the moment, the drafting of Sam Darnold out of USC, and the addition of Trumaine Johnson, previously of the Rams, has them trending in a positive direction.

The addition of a talent like Donald would give the Jets a potent defense, and may help them reach the postseason, while simultaneously hurting any title hopes the Rams may have. Fortunately, even if Donald doesn’t receive an extension before the season begins, Los Angeles will have all of 2018 to avoid any sort of doomsday scenario.

This is the business side of the NFL, where dollars and cents are king. In a perfect world, the players who sacrifice their bodies for the sport they love would get paid everything they deserve. At the end of the day, though, teams have to make conscientious choices that set themselves up for long-term success, long after superstars retire.

One thing is for certain, Donald is one of the most talented players in the league, and a team will definitely pay him like one. Whether or not that team is the Los Angeles Rams remains to be seen.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | May 18, 2018

Shea O’Leary

A senior at Valencia High School and pitcher on the softball team, Shea O’Leary pitched a complete game last week, striking out eight batters, allowing three hits, and two walks in the Vikings’ 1-0 Foothill League victory over Golden Valley. After ensuing wins over West Ranch and Canyon, Valencia finishes with a perfect 10-0 league record, and finished the regular season this week against Vista Murrieta at Valencia High School.

“Shea is a hardworking, dedicated and passionate athlete, who strives to be the best,” said Valencia High School softball coach Donna Lee. “Shea is a Texas-bound ace, 24-7 record, with a 1.32 ERA and 272 strikeouts in 201 innings.”

Cameron Graves

A volleyball standout at Valencia High School, senior Cameron Graves opened the CIF-SS Div. 2 boys’ volleyball tournament with a team-high 12 kills in the Vikings’ 3-0 sweep of Bishop Cardinal last week. Graves followed this strong outing with a team-high 22 kills in Valencia’s second round match against Vista Murrieta on May 10. In the second game, the Vikings needed to go five games to advance, winning the first two sets 25-13 and 251-15, before dropping games three and four 24-11 and 25-22. In the fifth set, Valencia was able to pull away with a 15-6 win. This week the Vikings beat Mission Viejo and headed to the semi-finals for the first time in three years.

“Cameron is one of the best all around athletes to play for Valencia,” said Kevin Kornegay, Valencia boys’ volleyball coach.  “He has a steady-as-she-goes attitude … never too up or never too down! Makes for a good combo when playing volleyball.”

Lottery Luck Set Up Clippers for Future Success

| Sports | May 18, 2018

The Los Angeles Clippers are entering offseason number two in what appears to be a different approach to reaching the NBA Finals. Long gone are the faces that made up Lob City, except for Deandre Jordan, who may be out the door as well, if he does what everyone expects, and opts out of his contract.

Jerry West, the architect of the current Golden State Warriors, took on a risk by blowing up the most successful Clippers team in franchise history. He let J.J. Redick walk away in free agency without a fight, and made a blockbuster deal with Houston that sent Chris Paul packing in exchange for Patrick Beverley and a host of role players.

His biggest move, however, came on January 29, when Blake Griffin was shipped off to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, and Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The pick was 1-4 protected, meaning, if the Pistons received a top-four draft pick, they’d get to keep it.

This was not the case. Detroit was awarded the 12th pick during Tuesday’s Draft Lottery, which they immediately handed over to Los Angeles. The Clippers then earned the 13th pick due to their own record, giving them two subsequent picks in a strong part of the NBA draft.

The immediate thought is that the team should trade one, or package both of these picks into a trade for established NBA players, or to move up in the draft to take a prospect that can contribute faster. However, the teams at the top of the draft order have very little need to move down. As for NBA-ready players available for trade, point guard Dennis Schroder of the Atlanta Hawks is the only one who has expressed interest in finding a new home. The Clippers’ best bet at this junction is to use both of their picks to fill areas of need. The expected departure of Jordan leaves a hole at the center position, and although Beverley has been a serviceable point guard in the past, especially on the defensive front, he only played 11 games with Los Angeles last year, so no one really knows how well he fits with the team.

Three prospects come to mind when looking at the middle of the first-round. Multiple mock drafts have the Clippers taking Shai Gilgeous Alexander, a point guard out of Kentucky, but it’s the second pick that is up for debate. Centers Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson are expected to be available when Los Angeles is on the clock, but both are far from a sure thing. Alexander could very well be the Clippers’ answer at starting point guard for a very long time. He is an excellent ball handler and gets into the paint with ease. This makes him an excellent pick and roll point guard, as he can use a screen at the top of the key to get to the rim. There, he has a host of moves that allow him to create his own shot, and when he draws multiple defenders, he has the vision and passing ability to find the open big man for an easy bucket. This is what allowed Alexander to be an efficient offensive player in his time at Kentucky. He maintained a true shooting percentage of 58 percent with an offensive rating of 117 points per 100 possessions. He also averaged 5.1 assists per game, which isn’t an eye-popping stat, but is a good foundation for him to grow.

One potential cause for concern with Alexander is his weight. At 180 pounds, Alexander may find himself getting bullied by bigger NBA guards as he begins his professional career. It’s easy to say he can just gain the weight to ensure this doesn’t happen, but it’s a harder concept to put in to practice.

Even if Alexander doesn’t bulk up significantly, he is 6 feet 6 inches, with lanky arms and fast feet. These attributes helped him on defense in college, where he had a defensive rating of 100.8 points per 100 possessions.

Now comes the difficult task of figuring out who Los Angeles should take with their second first round pick. Williams is consistently projected to be taken higher than Robinson, and there is merit to that argument. First and foremost, Williams has two years of college basketball at Texas A&M under his belt, whereas Robinson committed to Western Kentucky before un-enrolling and taking the 2017 NCAA season off to prepare for the draft.

Williams was a defensive force for the Aggies, posting a team-best defensive rating of 91.9 points per 100 possessions. He used the entirety of his hulking frame to ensure opposing teams rarely had an easy path to points in the paint, and averaged 2.63 blocks per game in doing so.

Offensively, Williams was the most efficient member of the Texas A&M squad. He had a team-high true shooting percentage, at 61 percent, and had the fourth best offensive rating, at 114.1 points per 100 possessions. He was able to post such lofty numbers because all of his points came at the rim. There weren’t too many players that he was unable to post-up and out muscle. His skill-set is eerily similar to Jordan’s, making the All-Star center’s departure slightly more bearable. The two share the same weakness as well. Williams’ offensive game is limited to the paint, allowing defenders to focus their attentions there. Today’s NBA seems to be shying away from the traditional center, in lieu of a big man who can stretch the floor by shooting jump shots. This is what makes Robinson such an appealing prospect.

Robinson takes the edge in height, standing at seven feet compared to Williams’ 6-foot-10 inches, but Williams outweighs Robinson 240 pounds to 223 pounds. It’s the difference in weight that truly dictates the differing styles between the two. Unlike Williams’ brand of physical play, Robinson uses his exceptional athleticism to excel.

He moves his feet very quickly on defense, so even if a player initially gets by him en route to the rim, Robinson can easily recover and disrupt the play. He is also lankier than Williams, and can use his long arms to swat away shot attempts. Like Williams, Robinson looks to score in the paint first. His speed gives him the potential to succeed in pick and roll plays, as he can set a screen to free the point guard, and quickly get to the basket, where his height will make it hard for a defender to stop him from scoring.

The fact that Robinson has a jump shot in his arsenal, makes him different than any center the Clippers have had in a long time, and adds a new wrinkle to their offense. Although Robinson hasn’t demonstrated the ability to shoot NBA-range 3-pointers yet, just having him able to take and make shots outside of the paint spaces the floor, and forces defenders to have to guard Robinson anywhere, instead of focusing all of their efforts inside.

All of Robinson’s strengths are well and good, but it is hard to have complete faith in him, as he has yet to demonstrate his ability against college, let alone NBA caliber players. The Clippers would need to know they are taking on a project by picking Robinson, a risk they may be willing to take, as they are not looking to compete for the championship in 2018.

With a president like West, it is impossible to tell what will happen with these draft picks. He may very well be able to pull off an amazing trade and snag Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, but more likely than not, the two picks will become two players that set Los Angeles up for success in the long-term.

The Warriors rule the Western Conference for now, due in large part to West’s ability to build a team. If he can work his magic again, the Clippers could be on their way to dominating the conference as Golden State begins to decline. The players taken in the 2018 NBA Draft aim to be a big part of this plan.

Male Athlete of the Week – Ryan Camacho

| Sports | May 10, 2018

A junior and an outfielder on West Ranch High School’s baseball team, Ryan Camacho led off the Wildcats’ 10-1 win against Valencia with a home run last week. He then hit a single to bring in his second run of the game, making the score 4-0. With the series win over the Vikings, West Ranch secured a playoff berth. They finish the regular season against Golden Valley this week.

“Ryan has been one of our best hitters this year, leading West Ranch with 30 hits in 26 games,” said Casey Burrill, WRHS baseball coach. “He has scored 23 times and driven in 17 runs. He is a high energy player who has all the tools of a college player and beyond.”

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Female Athlete of the Week – Abbey Bryant

| Sports | May 10, 2018

A top hurdler for Saugus High School’s track and field team, Abbey Bryant broke the Foothill League record for the 110 hurdle run with a time of 14.55 seconds. The previous record of 14.61 seconds was set by Katie Kirst in 2004. Abbey also took first place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.96 seconds. She qualified for the CIF Southern-Section prelims in both events.

Abbey also holds the record at Saugus High School, and she broke Wendy Bradshaw’s 1983 record, whose previous time was 15.15, converted from 14.88 (they ran low hurdles in the past).

“She is an amazing athlete who trains hard and is an even better person,” said Kevin Berns, Saugus High School’s track team coach. “Abbey has persevered, overcoming injuries throughout her high school career, which makes her accomplishments even more special.”

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