By Tim Peterson
Raise your hand if you predicted at the start of the season that the top two teams in the Montview League and and the second place team in the Miramonte League would be in the CIF Finals. Okay, put your hands down. You’re lying.
That’s exactly where we stand however as Duarte, Nogales and La Puente will all compete for a championship this Saturday. We know the wide open divisions in football have made it possible for many teams that previously didn’t have a shot at a title to make a run and the same is true now in basketball. La Puente may be the biggest surprise of all. The Warriors finished second in the Miramonte at 7-3, behind Pomona who went 10-0. But the Warriors have won when it counted and here they are.
Do we dare say “Warriors come out to plaaaayyy!”
Duarte has taken some heat on our boards for being in a soft division. While it’s true that Division 5A will never be mistaken for murderers row the Falcons still had to beat the opponents in front of them to advance. And boy have they! They haven’t just beaten them, they’ve hammered them into submission. The Falcons have wiped out their three playoff opponents by 41, 33 and 40 points. Duarte racked up 50 points on St. Monica Academy by halftime. Lesser division or no, the Falcons have proved they belong in the Finals. If you haven’t seen Duarte forward Danny Pina yet you’re missing out. He’s fun to watch.
Former SGV Weekly writer/Area Football Coach/ Football Referee Steve Collins is now the PA Announcer for Duarte basketball games.
It’s nice to see Chino Hills in the CIF Finals without any of the Ball Brothers involved, well without LaVar Ball anyway. That being said the Huskies matchup against Pasadena Saturday night in the Division 1 Finals is the game of the weekend. Who’s going to win? Well, there are some comparisons based on common opponents. Both teams beat Rancho Verde, Damien and George Washington, and both teams lost to Rancho Christian. The Bulldogs beat Centennial while the Huskies split with them. Looks like a toss up. I’ll go with Pasadena in a game that goes down to the wire. Be there Saturday night at Azusa Pacific at 8:30 p.m.
I know I’m going to be accused of jumping on the bandwagon when I show up at the Glendora Girls Final Friday night at APU. Hey, what can I say? The Lady Tartans are 30-0!
What’s up at Monrovia? A decision on the head coach was expected last week but it’s still dragging on. I’m hearing the front runner is a prominent area offensive coordinator along with a long time area coach. They have both interviewed twice. I was asked not to throw any names out there but I will say that both are well known names on the local high school football scene.
Again, Wardell Crutchfield is not in the mix.
Ready for it or not, baseball is back. I got out last Saturday to check out some action at South El Monte. Norwalk won the first game and was in control of the second before letting a big lead get away and falling in the nightcap. Not a bad crowd on hand for a Saturday in February. I’ve always liked covering baseball in the SGV. There’s been some good talent come out of this area over the years. The biggest problem with baseball is the 3:15 starts. It makes it hard for parents and reporters who are working two jobs to get to the games. I know it’s not in the school budgets but lights at all baseball fields and Friday night games would be a blessing.
Speaking of area baseball talent did you know that former Monrovia pitcher Eddie McKiernan, who also had a stint in the minor leagues for the Angels, is now the head coach at La Salle?
The purge of area sportswriters continues. Long time Star News/SGV Tribune prep sportswriter Steve Ramirez was laid off last week. Ramirez who went to regular news about a year ago to continue working was a mainstay on San Gabriel Valley High School Sports scene for 20 years. Ramirez was one of the hardest working, diligent writers you will ever come across. He was the epitome of professionalism. He will be sorely missed.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40.