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CHS boys basketball strings together wins for strong finish

Claremont High School boys basketball is having one of their best seasons in recent memory.

As the regular season winds down, the Wolfpack, 7-2 in league and 19-8 overall, is solidly in second place behind Palomares League leader Bonita. There is even a slight chance Bonita could falter in their final game Thursday and be joined by Claremont as a co-champion.

Regardless, Claremont is on a roll and it has been great to watch as the boys, most of whom have been playing together for years, finally realize their potential.

On Friday, Claremont took on Ayala and walked away with an easy 64-48 win in front of a packed house at CHS. It was also senior night as friends and family said goodbye to the players who will graduate in June.

The lopsided final score would have been far worse if the Bulldogs hadn’t had the contributions of Kristian Curl. The 5-foot-8 -inch guard was hot from the line, on the boards and with three-pointers. With about three minutes left in the first half, Curl had scored all of Ayala’s 13 points and ended with 28 for the night.

The Wolfpack was noticeably taller and beefier, which they used to their advantage, scooping up 32 rebounds. Senior Kyle Scalmanini accounted for nine rebounds to lead the team. Seniors Marcus Williams and Tyler Risher each had 12 points, while junior Jacob Henry was not far behind with 11.

Claremont played an aggressive game, using a full court press that Coach Stan Tolliver said was an attempt to force their opponent to make mistakes. It also landed a couple of starters into foul trouble, so Coach Tolliver took them out to avoid fouling out.

On Tuesday, the boys had a much harder time at Diamond Bar, barely squeaking by the Brahmas 51-50.

Claremont led 25-22 at the half, but Diamond Bar scored 20 points in the third quarter, building a 42-37 lead. Claremont had a big 14-point fourth quarter, which was just enough for the win.

Risher was the top scorer with 12 points and five rebounds. Scalmanini had 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“We’re starting to play our best basketball right now, starting to understand that we have to compete and play hard every game. I think the guys are really starting to understand that as we get to the back half of league,” Coach Tolliver said after the Ayala game.

“We want to play with high energy to see if we can force teams to make mistakes. We understand that we will make a few in the process and foul a bit, but overall think that style of play will benefit us,” he said.

Claremont played its last league game Thursday night against third-place Glendora, just after the COURIER’s deadline. But there is no chance the Tartans can take second place away from Claremont with their 4-5 record. The hope now is that the Wolfpack will get to open the CIF Tournament at home.

 

Girls soccer shares league title with Glendora

They had an epic battle but unlike the battles of antiquity, there were no tragic heroes and no empires were lost. There were just two equally-matched soccer teams that, after 100 minutes of play, had to settle for a tie.

As a result, the Claremont Wolfpack and the Glendora Tartans become co-champions of the Palomares League for 2016 after playing to a scoreless tie through regulation time and two overtime periods.

There were missed opportunities on both sides. The Pack is likely to relive the moment in the second overtime period when a solid shot from sophomore Janelle Gutierrez hit the goal post. For the Tartans, it may be the late breakaway that drew Claremont goalkeeper Allison Bifone out of the net,  but a pass failed to connect with an open forward and the ball skittered out of bounds.

Lexi Deahl had a heartbreaker late in the first half after she beat the keeper but saw her shot sail over the net.

“I thought that one [Janelle Gutierrez’ shot] was in. There were a couple of others that were in, particularly in the second half. It didn’t go our way. That is the game; You have to take care of your chances,” Coach Tim Tracey said. “Anyone who had the opportunity to finish would be the victor in this match.”

During halftime Coach Tracey told his team to “stay composed, hold the ball and know where everyone else is on the field and everything will come our way.” The girls took his advice to heart and came out with renewed energy. But they just weren’t able to get shots to land.

Both goalkeepers, Bifone and Glendora junior Sarah Reyes, did a fine job, particularly Reyes who fended off a barrage of shots early in the second half from the motivated Wolfpack.

“It was a battle of the defenders for sure,” Coach Tracey said.

It was a very physical game but the referees called very few fouls and got an earful from both sides as a result. There were a handful of yellow cards and tempers did flare a bit as the game wore on.

Junior Zenani Dennis earned special recognition for her continuous hustle as did standout forward Sophie Jones for her superb ball handling skills.

Coach Tracy noted that the teams were very evenly matched. “I thought so particularly tonight, they came out to play hard and we played equally hard. We had our chances but didn’t have any luck,” he said. “The game kind of wrote itself there in the second half. Bottom line, we were giving too many balls away, our forwards were coughing them up to their defenders and their defense is strong.”

With the tie, the Pack goes into the playoffs as the number-one seed and with a home field advantage in the first round.

“I think these girls deserve it. They have worked hard all season” Coach Tracey said.

 

Girls basketball

The Pack played their final home game on Friday, taking on the Ayala Bulldogs. Claremont struggled from the start with the Bulldogs jumping to a 10 point lead before the Pack got on the board.

Co-captains Camille Troncone and Laurel Marchant showed their usual high level of hustle and senior Jennifer Tran also had a good game.

Claremont played hard but struggled mainly with their shooting. Again and again they would drive to the boards only to have the shot miss.

Friday was senior night and the team held a brief ceremony to say goodbye to the girls who will graduate in June. Claremont lost again on Tuesday, 48-39, at Diamond Bar. The Pack’s record is now 8-16 overall and 0-9 in league, their final game was Thursday in Glendora.

Boys soccer

Even though the Wolfpack defeated top-ranked Glendora 2-0 on Wednesday, it won’t be enough to wrest the league championship away from the Tartans. Claremont ends the season in second place with a 7-3 league record, 13-6-3 overall, which is good enough to earn a berth in the CIF tournament. Claremont travels to La Verne on Saturday to take on rival Damien.

Girls water polo

The Pack won its final league game, 21-6, over Glendora on Tuesday at home. Claremont is solidly in second place with their 5-3 league record, 19-7-1 overall.

Webb Schools

Webb girls soccer defeated Samueli Academy 3-0 to finish the season undefeated for the first time ever, winning their first league championship. The team held a special signing ceremony for senior Alex Wilson, who will play at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps next year. Webb is now 7-0-1 in league, 12-0-2 overall.

Webb boys soccer defeated Fairmont Prep 5-0 to win the San Joaquin League Championship. Webb is now 10-0 in league, 16-1-3 overall.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com