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Notebook: Basketball championship games spread among sites

01/25/2018, 6:25pm PST
By John Maffei

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The San Diego Section boys and girls basketball championships will have a different look this season.

Instead of 10 games over two days at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion, the bulk of the championships will be played at two different facilities.

At San Diego State’s Viejas Arena on Friday, March 2: girls Division II (11 a.m.), girls Division I (1 p.m.), boys Division I (3 p.m.), girls Open (6 p.m.) and boys Open (8 p.m.).

At San Marcos High on Saturday, March 3: boys Division IV (11 a.m.), girls Division IV (1 p.m.), girls Division III (3 p.m.), boys Division III (6 p.m.) and boys Division II (8 p.m.).

“We struggled to find a home for the basketball finals,” said John Labeta, section assistant commissioner.

“USD has been a great home for the last five years but has a university event our weekend and is out.

“We tried UC San Diego, but it’s booked. We have parking concerns at Point Loma Nazarene.

“We contacted the Sports Arena (Valley View Casino Center), but they never got back to us.”

Labeta would have liked to have both days at San Diego State, but the university has another event scheduled.

“San Diego State isn’t cheap to rent, actually about double what it costs to rent Jenny Craig,” Labeta said. “That’s one reason we went away from SDSU in the first place. But our biggest games (boys Division I as well as the boys and girls Open) deserve a college venue.”

Viejas Arena seats 12,414 for basketball. Jenny Craig seats 5,100. Depending on the teams in the boys Open final, the JCP can get cramped.

UC San Diego’s RIMAC Arena seats 5,000 while Point Loma Nazarene seats 2,500. The Valley View Casino Center says it can seat 14,500 for basketball.

The San Marcos High gym seats 3,500 and is considered the gem of high school gyms.

“We’re thankful San Marcos is willing to work with us,” Labeta said. “It’s the biggest high school gym. Hopefully, it can handle a large crowd.”

The boys and girls Division V title games, which have been held at San Marcos on the Thursday before the other championships, will move to La Costa Canyon on Thursday, March 1, with the girls at 5 p.m. and boys at 7.

Cheer championships

The San Diego Section held its first compeitive cheer championships last weekend with 33 teams competing in five divisions before a full house at Montgomery High.

Granite Hills won the large school division (based on squad size), Cathedral Catholic was the medium school champion and La Costa Canyon took the small school title.

Mission Hills and Montgomery tied in the co-ed division. Valhalla won the Game Day title.

Sweetwater Hall of Famers

Sweetwater hosts its Michael LeMaster Memorial Classic on Saturday, playing Monte Vista at 6 p.m. At halftime, the Red Devils will induct four alumni into the school’s basketball hall of fame:

Calvin Murrell, a 1981 first-team all-league selection.

Joe McDowell, a 1990 All-San Diego Section first-teamer on the Division I championship team. He was Metro League Player of the Year.

Mahlon Williams, a 1987 all-section pick.

Larry Willson, a 1985 all-section choice and the Metro League Player of the Year.

Points milestone

Kaylee Stiffler, a 5-foot-11 junior forward at Cathedral Catholic, scored 20 points against Our Lady of Peace on Tuesday to reach the career 1,000-point mark.

Stiffler scored 298 as a freshman, 411 last year and has 292 in 21 games this season for 1,001 points in 74 games.

Game broadcasts

Longtime San Diego radio man Ted Mendenhall will broadcast at least three boys basketball games on Facebook Live. The schedule includes Mission Hills-San Marcos on Friday, Westview-Poway on Feb. 2 and Torrey Pines-Canyon Crest on Feb. 7.

To find the broadcasts, search for “gameday prep athletics.”

Football follow-ups

Because of a late number change, the receiver catching the winning touchdown pass in last Saturday’s Alex Spanos All-Star Classic was misidentified. Trent Borger (Rancho Buena Vista) actually caught the 71-yard flanker pass from Tristan Stacy (Ramona) with 1:32 to go in a 23-17 North win over the South at San Diego Mesa College.

North assistant coach Herb Meyer said the original plan was to have a quarterback line up as a receiver and throw the pass, but Stacy, who has a baseball scholarship to New Mexico State, convinced the coaches he could throw the ball.

The San Diego Stars & Stripes team, featuring high school seniors from the county, was beaten 40-6 by Mexico’s U19 National team Saturday in the American Bowl in Mexico City.

The Stars & Stripes team turned the ball over six times and had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Running back Jeremiah Rivera (Hilltop) was named the Stars & Stripes MVP. Stars & Stripes coaches also singled out offensive lineman Chandler Patterson (Carlsbad), receiver Jesse Matthews (Christian) and defensive backs Zach Jones (Grossmont) and Kenneth Russell (Mission Bay) for their play.

Ramona softball

Ramona has hired former all-section player Lexi Slater as head softball coach.

A shortstop, Slater played 217 college games at Iowa State and was voted All-Midwest Region in 2014 as well as to the 2013 All-Big-12 Defensive Team.

She has coached high school softball in Iowa and most recently at the community college level.

Coaching openings

Two of the more attractive high school football head coaching jobs — St. Augustine and El Camino — remain open.

St. Augustine closes applications on Feb. 16 and already has nearly 50 applicants, including college assistants, to replace Richard Sanchez, who left to accept a job as an assistant at San Diego State.

El Camino, the section Division I champion, was coached on an interim basis last season by Michael Hobbs, who is a teacher in the Oceanside school district. The Wildcats hope to name a new coach by mid-February.

Golf gift

The Wilson Sporting Goods Company will present 15 new sets of golf clubs to the boys and girls teams at Oceanside, El Camino and Vista highs on Monday.

The gifts are part of a program conducted by the PGA and Wilson.

Rugby standout

Sophia Rizzotto, who started the Lady Jags club rugby team last season at Valley Center High, has been selected to play for the Southern California All-Stars in the 10th annual Portugal Youth Rugby Festival in April.

The senior captain of Valley Center’s team in the Southern California Youth Rugby Association, Rizzotto has created a gofundme page to help her pay for the trip to Portugal.

Air Force commit

San Marcos offensive lineman Andrew Meyer has committed to play football at Air Force Academy.

The 6-5, 300-pound Meyer was a second-team all-section pick and is a two-star recruit by 247Sports. He also drew interest from Army, South Dakota and Kent State.


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