1957: Cook and Cavers’ Great Day

Roscoe Cook, Bobby Staten, Willie Jordan, and Charles (Sugar Jet) Davis comprised a swift foursome of San Diego High athletes who surprised the field and brought home a Southern California track championship.

The biggest surprise was supplied by Cook.

Some background:

Cook entered the season as the 1956 Class B sprint titlist, having run away from the field the previous spring with best times of :09.7 in the 100-yard dash, and :21.0 in the 220.

It was expected that Cook and Staten would dominate the short races and low hurdles and that Davis, one of the city’s best quartermilers, and Jordan, a complementary sprinter, would round out a championship 880-yard relay team.

A downpour shortly after the first race canceled the Southern Counties’ Invitational at Huntington Beach High in the first week in March, delaying the usual official beginning of the season.

With no early reading on what to expect, the Cavemen then prepared for a intersectional dual meet in Balboa Stadium with powerful Compton Centennial.

UNBEATEN AT HOME

Cook had never lost a race in San Diego but he was beaten in a :09.9 100 by Centennial’s tall, long-striding Preston Griffin, a newcomer to the Southern California scene.

Griffin also took the national lead with a 24-foot, 6 ¾-inch broad jump. Cook was third despite breaking a 19-year-old school record with a leap of 23-10.  Griffin’s teammate, John Blaylock, was second at 23-11 in a remarkable competition.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Dkiego High hopes.

Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Diego High hopes.

The final and stunning indignity came in the 220 when Griffin, jogging casually the last 15 yards, eased to a :21.6  and Cook was a well-beaten third.  Griffin also withstood a charge by Staten as Centennial won the 880-yard relay in 1:28.8 and the meet, 60 1/2-43 1/2.

Seven weeks later, Griffin blazed a :09.5 100 in a semifinals, qualifying meet and appeared unbeatable.  On the same day Cook won a heat in a season-best: 09.8 in another divisional competition at Arroyo High in El Monte.

Cook quietly also served some notice as he took the measure of  Alhambra’s Rusty Weeks, who’d run :09.6 the week before.

SHORT AND QUICK

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1925: Santa Ana Ploy Almost Derailed Hilltoppers

Competition and controversy were different words with different meanings, but they blurred in the far-flung Coast League, whose fratricidal members regularly accused their brethren of academic or residential mischief.

San Diego High was on the receiving end of a peculiar allegation that threatened to stop one of the best teams in school history.

Senior Captain Russ Saunders, the 5-foot, 9-inch, 190-pound blocking quarterback and linebacking defender, faced a charge of accepting money three years before in a boxing match that would have made Saunders a professional and ineligible for interscholastic sports.

If the curiously-timed indictment proved accurate, the Hilltoppers would be forced to forfeit nine victories and the opportunity to compete in the Southern California playoffs.

Russ Saunders was vital to San Diego's championship hopes.

Saunders was vital to San Diego’s championship hopes.

Saunders eventually was absolved of wrong doing, but not before a dizzying chain of events that took on the aura of an old-fashioned Saturday morning serial.

CIF CHASING RABBITS

The intramural dustup was typical of the Prohibition-era, anything-goes Roaring Twenties, a decade when the growing CIF and its commissioner, former Escondido coach Seth Van Patten, struggled to keep order.

The CIF’s rule on age limitation was only that you couldn’t play if you were 21 years old, but that meant that post-graduates and assorted roughnecks still populated the prep scene.

Coast League rivals didn’t trust each other.

Trouble began in the final regular-season game, when Bert Ritchey ran 60 yards for a touchdown that would propel the Hilltoppers to a 9-0 victory over the Santa Ana Saints in a battle of teams with 6-0 league records.

The victory, before a record City Stadium high school crowd of 15,000, clinched a second straight loop championship for coach John Perry’s squad.

With a long ride home Saturday night and all day Sunday to chew on the loss,  officials from the Northern school prepared to make a call on Monday morning and notify Coast League president and CIF playoff coordinator Harry J. Moore that they were protesting.

IT WAS OUR FANS, SAY SAINTS

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2015: Best Track Marks

It’s been a slow year in San Diego Section track and field, although business  picked up a little in the last couple invitationals, Arcadia and Mt. St. Antonio.

Two more weeks of dual meets, plus the annual Escondido Invitational, will take girls and boys competitors into league trials, the first step toward the state meet at Buchanan High in C,ovis, June 3-4.

Cathedral’s Dani Johnson, the Section record holder at :13.88 in the 100 hurdles and  :41.34 in the 300 barriers has missed almost all of the season  with injuries.

It would take a remarkable comeback at this point in the season for Johnson to return to form.  She also also ran a leg for the Dons’ 4×400 relay team that set a Section record of 3:47.63 last year.

San Diego Section marks in the state top 10 in parenthesis and state leaders:

BOYS

EVENT MARK NAME SCHOOL MARK NAME SCHOOL
200 :21.7 (10) Agbede Cathedral :20.41 Norman Vista Murrieta
400 :48.47 (10) Shaheed Mt. Carmel :45.51 Norman Vista Murrieta
110HH :14.47 (10) Alvarado Rancho Buena Vista :13.81 Burton LaQuinta
PV 16-4 (3) Brown La Costa Canyon 16-8 Bowler Loomis Del Oro
LJ 23-10 ¾ (5) Battikha St. Augustine 24-9 ½ White Bakersfield Ridgeview
23-7 ¼ (7) DeRoos Tri-City Christian
TJ 47-0 ¼ (8) DeRoos 49-3 1/4 Hicks Bakersfield Liberty
SP 63-0 ¾ (4) Lenford Oceanside 71-7 ¼ Osborn Anaheim Esperanza
57-2 (10) Miller El Camino
DISCUS 194-0 (4) Lenford 204-4 Osborn

GIRLS

800 2:11.29 (10) McCarthy Carlsbad 2:09.35 Durgy Huntington Beach
1600 4:55.66 (4) Brown La Costa Canyon 4:51.26 Bowen Sonoma Academy
100H :14.46 (8) Nealis Valley Center :13.64 Davis Agoura
300H :44.07 (10) Bell Steele Canyon :41.01 Woodward Vacaville
4×400 3:54.12 (10) LaCosta Canyon 3:49.80 Westlake Village Oaks Christian
HJ 5-6 (4T) Snow Carlsbad 5-8 Burke Riverside Poly
Hickey Coronado
Smith Mission Hills
LJ 19-0 ½ (10) Smith 20-6 ¾ Davis Agoura
SP 47-0 (3) Altice Del Norte 53-5 Bruckner San Jose Valley Christian
45-9 ½ (5) Tausaga-Collins Mount Miguel
DISCUS 160-4 (3) Tausaga-Collins 181-1 Bruckner

 

 

 

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1926: John Perry Steps Down From Hilltop Perch

San Diego High represented one of the best football coaching jobs in the state, but was John Perry all in?

Perry ruminated that the 1925 season, which ended in a bitter, 13-6 loss to Covina in the CIF championship game, was too long and a reason his club had let down in the title game.

That apparently was why Perry’s started practice a week later this season and moved the start of practice from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Perry took another path.

Perry took another path.

Perry also had been delayed because he was attending a summer school football class in Los Angeles taught by USC coach Howard Jones.

Despite Perry’s seeming detachment, the Cavemen appeared ready to make another strong run.  Superstar halfback Bert Ritchey was back for his third varsity season, joined by tackle Cy West, and several other holdovers from the 10-1 team of the year before.

Players were moving up from coach Gerald (Tex) Oliver’s B team, which defeated Huntington Park, 13-6, for the 1925 Southern California championship.

And there were incoming sophomores from Roosevelt and Memorial, teams which played for the championship of the city junior high league in ’25.                                                               

After a 27-0 victory in the opening game against the San Diego State Frosh, the Hilltoppers lost sight of the end zone. They scored three touchdowns and 29 points, total, in seven Coast League contests.

The Cavemen dropped back-to-back road games at Long Beach and Whittier but still finished with a 6-2 record.

Perry’s 52-14-5 achievement in seven seasons would not seem raise any doubt about his future as coach.

IS PERRY OUT?

But the afternoon San Diego Sun newspaper published a story Nov. 19, 1926, the day before the Hilltoppers’ last home game against South Pasadena, that declared Perry was out as coach:

“A complete rearrangement of the coaching staff at the San Diego high school has taken place, and will go into effect at once, it was made known today.

“John Perry, who heretofore coached varsity football, becomes supervisor of physical training and director of school athletics, but will have no coaching connections with the various teams.

“John Hobbs, assistant grid coach to Perry, and in direct charge of the second team, is now head coach of the Hilltop varsity football team.”

The timing of the no-attribution, no-byline article was curious, with two games remaining on the schedule.  It looked as if Perry was being removed from his position and given a highfalutin title of reduced significance.

Key Cavers (clockwise from upper left): Bert Ritchey, John Donohue, Eddie Moeller, Tony Mason, Captain Cy West.

Key Cavers (clockwise from upper left): Bert Ritchey, John Donohue, Eddie Moeller, Tony Mason, Captain Cy West.

NOTHING TO IT?

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1923: Writer Takes Shots at San Diego Coach

John Perry was 29-10-2 with a winning percentage of .738 in four seasons as San Diego High coach.

But that wasn’t good enough for one sportswriter on San Diego’s largest daily newspaper.

A crushing midseason, 26-0 loss to Long Beach Poly was followed by a disinterested, 13-0 victory over Coast League doormat Whittier.

“The wreck of the Hesperus didn’t have a thing on the disaster of the Cavemen,” wrote Alan McGrew of the Poly game, taking a page from Greek mythology.

McGrew, no Damon Runyan, was The San Diego Union beat man covering the Cavemen and regularly found fault with Perry’s stewardship, very unusual for the era.

The young San Diego High graduate was especially peevish in his account of the Whittier contest:

“…the team had no fight and players seemed to take the ‘I don’t care attitude.’  Coach John Perry seemed to be as bad as any of the players.”

McGrew said the starting backfield “was like four moving dead men.”

“Coach John Perry should receive a good part of the responsibility for the poor showing,” McGrew continued. “Since the Long Beach game he has lacked enthusiasm just as much as many of the players.”

McGrew thought the Cavers should turn in their uniforms if “the high schoolers intend to finish the season in the same miserable manner they played yesterday.”

PHOENIX, BUT FIRST AN EASY ONE

Principal Glenn Perkins and Perry scheduled a postseason game for charity against the Phoenix Coyotes, billed as champions of Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas.

More than 8,000 persons saw the game but no score in San Diego-Phoenix meeting.

More than 8,000 persons saw the game but no score in San Diego-Phoenix meeting.

William Richardson, the California governor, was going to attend and a large crowd was expected, proceeds going to the football fund at the Hilltop and to buy 50 uniforms for members of the band.

There would be a three-week layoff between the Whittier and Phoenix tussles, so Perry called John Nichols, his former Coronado coaching colleague, and booked a home contest against Nichols’ Oxnard squad.

The Yellowjackets reportedly had posted a 7-0 record, but the competition was against teams from small, neighboring Ventura County farming communities.

PUSHOVER?

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2015-16: Foothills 3rd, Cathedral 14th

There were no state championships, but it was a solid season in San Diego Section  basketball.

Foothills Christian, behind McDonald’s all-star T.J. Leaf, was third in the state in Cal-Hi Sports‘ final boys Top 40 rankings.

Cathedral ranked 14th and St. Augustine 23rd.

The 2015-16 finish showed marked improvement  over the 2014-15 Cal-Hi rankings, in which St. Augustine was 23rd, Torrey Pines 24th, and Foothills Christian 36th.

Foothills gained  currency when it defeated Santa Ana Mater Dei, 50-44, in the Southern California quarterfinals before bowing to Chino Hills, 82-62.

Chino Hills (35-0) won the state championship and is national champion, according to all major polls.

Foothills lost its first game to the San Bernardino County squad in December, 106-86, but came closer than any California school when it dropped an 85-83 decision to the Huskies in January.

A basket by Leaf had put the Knights ahead, 83-82, with 13.3 seconds remaining.

3 IN TOP 20

Mission Hills was seventh in the girls, followed by La Jolla Country Day at No. 10 and Bishop at No. 19.

La Jolla Country Day was 15th and Mission Hills 30th in the final 2014-15 rankings.

The last state champions were in St. Augustine boys and Horizon girls in 2013-14.

 RECORD LITTLETON’S DESTINY?

A highlight of next season is expected to be The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton’s pursuit of the state career scoring record.

Littleton averaged 35.7 and scored 1,178 points this season, giving her a three-season total of 2,934.  San Diego’s Charde Houston set the California record with 3,837 from 2000 to 2004.

HOOPLA

Cathedral rose as high as 10th in the Cal-Hi poll after an 82-80, overtime win against Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, but fell following a 72-56, semifinals loss to Torrance Bishop Montgomery…St. Augustine was 17th before dropping a 68-55,  semifinals game at Encino Crespi…Charde Houston played four seasons at Connecticut and is in her ninth WNBA season as a member of the New York Mercury…despite the CIF’s desired “competitive equity,” the Southern Section dominated the  regionals…the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Central  came up short, as all 12 boys and girls division winners were from the Southern Section….

How Cal-Hi Sports viewed San Diego Section squads:

BOYS

DIVISION TEAM RECORD RANK
Top 40 Foothills Christian 25-5 3
Cathedral 21-7 14
St. Augustine 24-8 23
Torrey Pines 26-5 37
I St. Augustine 8
Torrey Pines 15
II Mission Bay 21-9 17
Army-Navy 21-11 19
III Kearny 31-4 9
IV El Camino 29-7 4
*Grossmont 23-8
*San Marcos 22-8
V Bonita Vista 21-13 12
*Mission Vista 16-13

GIRLS

DIVISION TEAM RECORD RANK
Top 20 Mission Hills 29-4 7
La Jolla Country Day 24-6 10
The Bishop’s 25-8 19
I The Bishop’s 6
Torrey Pines 22-9 15
II Mount Miguel 21-12 17
III Eastlake 26-7 13
*Horizon 19-13
IV *La Costa Canyon 23-10
V Grossmont 25-6 13
*Escondido Adventist 23-5

*Honorable Mention.

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1920: Welcome, Grossmont!

A new school?

Grossmont High opened this year, located on what was known as the Riverview campus in Lakeside.

It would be two years before the school moved to the top of the Grossmont Summit in La Mesa, where it sits today overlooking the El Cajon Valley.

But was Grossmont really a new school in 1920?

On the school’s 90th anniversary in 2010, “The Fountain of Hope” was remembered in a campus publication:

“The class of 1916 donated a drinking fountain made of granite from a local quarry to the old El Cajon Valley Union High School and inscribed ‘Class of 1916’”.

Grossmont's fountain has long history.

Grossmont’s fountain has long history.

The El Cajon Valley High we know today didn’t open  until  1955, when it drew much of the student population from Grossmont, which originally had been home to students from as distant as Pine Valley, 25 miles away, and further east.

The early-century “El Cajon Valley High” is not even a footnote in local prep sports history, but a team with the designation “El Cajon” played games against San Diego High in 1902, 1904, and 1907.

According to Don King, San Diego High historian and author of Caver Conquest, the 1904 game was against the El Cajon Town team.  An ensuing contest was noted as being against the community’s high school.

SWEETWATER ON SCHEDULE

Grossmont’s first graduating class numbered 37 students.  There were 11 faculty members with an enrollment of about 150 in four grades. A total of 320 students were enrolled when the new campus opened in 1922.

Green and white was  chosen as school colors, but they changed to blue and gold in 1927.

The athletic teams didn’t become known as the Foothllers until 1921, but Grossmont fielded a team this season, under coach J. Howard Becker, and didn’t score a point in four games against schools that became their County League rivals.

One of those opponents was Sweetwater, an emerging South County school Grossmont would play every season through 1960 except 1941 and ’52.

HILLTOPPERS SET RECORD

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1970-2016: Walton or Leaf, Take Your Pick

Bill Walton was 33-0 in his senior season at Helix.  T.J. Leaf was 25-5 at Foothills Christian.

Walton’s Helix team dominated the San Diego Section, but the Highlanders’ 70-56 victory over Chula Vista in the AA finals in 1970 marked the end of season. Southern California playoffs were reserved only for Southern Section squads.

Leaf’s Foothills Christian team, benefiting from the modern CIF, competed beyond the San Diego Section playoffs, most recently reaching the Southern California regional semifinals.

Walton was a 6-foot, 11-inch center who played with his back to the basket, and scored and played defense with equal abandon.

Leaf is a 6-10 power forward with a wider range of offense but did not command defense as did Walton.

If pro basketball is the correct measuring stick, basketball has evolved and improved to a point in the San Diego area that we now can claim many NBA or international players.

Before Walton you could count the number of NBA players from San Diego on one hand plus two or three fingers.

Leaf put Foothills Christian on national radar.

Leaf put Foothills Christian on national radar.

Leaf is moving on to UCLA, where Walton won two national collegiate championships and NBA titles with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics.

Leaf is a longshot to match Walton’s  post-high school achievements but that will not diminish the mark he made at Foothills Christian.  T.J. finished his career second to his brother, Troy, as the San Diego’s Section’s career scoring leader.

Leaf was at the wheel as the small El Cajon school traveled with the big shots, playing a national schedule against teams in California and the U.S.

Thirteen of the Knights’ 30 games were against opponents outside the San Diego Section, including three against Chino Hills, the No. 1 team in the country, and another against nationally ranked Waterloo Sacred Heart of Connecticut.

Walton seldom ventured beyond the County, but his performance in December, 1969, at the prestigious Covina Tournament got him on the national stage.

Helix defeated Rancho Cucamonga Alta Loma, 90-35, Montebello, 72-48, El Monte Arroyo, 92-57, Long Beach Millikan, 71-49, and Pasadena, 110-68.

Millikan went on to win the major Southern Section championship.

Against the playoff-bound Pasadena Bullpups, Walton scored 50 points, had 34 rebounds, and made Sports Illustrated and its Faces in the Crowd feature.

Walton was head and shoulders above the crowd.

Walton was head and shoulders above the crowd.

The Highlanders averaged 88.2 points a game, went past 100 six times and topped 90 on 10 other occasions.  Walton scored 964 points and averaged 29.2, but he is remembered as much for his unselfish play and dominating defense.

Foothills Christian won by an average score of 71-52, had games of 97 and 96 points and bettered 80 in eight other contests.

Leaf scored 852 points and averaged 28.4 points, shot 68 per cent on field goal attempts and made 29 three-point baskets with an average of 39 per cent from behind the arc.

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2015-16: All San Diego Section Squads Eliminated

It was five and out for the San Diego Section in the Southern California regional semifinals last night.

Most of the road-weary locals were in their ball games at halftime but faded thereafter, memories of terrific seasons and bus rides of up to 150 miles ahead as they made their way home.

Foothills Christian (25-5) trailed, 37-30, after 16 minutes against Chino Hills but, despite 36 points from T.J. Leaf, was a well-beaten, 82-62, before a standing room only crowd of 2,800 persons at Colony High in Ontario.

Cathedral (21-7)  lagged only 46-42 in the third quarter before Torrance Bishop Montgomery began raining three-point baskets and pulled away to a 72-56 victory at El Camino College in Torrance.

El Camino (29-7) was in a 31-31 deadlock at halftime at Calabasas Viewpoint but couldn’t keep up  and was eliminated, 73-57.

St. Augustine (24-8) was outscored, 15-4, at  Encino Crespi Carmelite in  the first quarter but manfully battled back to trail only 41-39 after three.   That was the Saints’ final gesture.  They  collapsed in the fourth quarter and exited with a 68-55 loss.

The Mission Hills girls (29-4), lagging, 40-26, at the half and 55-41 at the three-quarter juncture, closed out with a 79-59 loss to West Hills Chaminade.

With apologies to the late Don Meredith of ABC’s Monday Night Football, turn out the lights, the party’s over.

 

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2015-16: Five Remain in South Regional Playoffs

The few, the proud….

Five teams from the San Diego Section still are in the hunt as the Southern California regional playoffs reach the semifinals round tomorrow.

+Foothills Christian (25-4) will try to stop the No. 1 team in the country when it challenges Chino Hills (31-0) at Colony High in Ontario, a “neutral” site 11 miles and 20 minutes from the Huskies’ campus.

Chino Hills defeated the Knights, 106-86, in December and 85-83 in January on other neutral layouts.

The Huskies ran the Knights off the floor in the first game, taking a 22-5 lead in the first three minutes and roaring to a 40-13, first-quarter lead.

That Foothills outscored its opponent, 73-66, over the last three quarters was virtually unnoticed because the Knights never got closer than 18 points, at 87-69, early in the fourth quarter.

THIRD TIME CHARM?

Foothills has a shot, if only because of the ancient shibboleth that declares it is very difficult for one team to beat another three times in a row in the same season.

Knights coach Brad Leaf adjusted after the first game and the Knights actually led late in the game. Can Leaf, his superstar, 6-foot, 10-inch son, T.J., and the El Cajon team pull off the upset?

Guess:  Chino Hills 88, Foothills Christian 78.

+Seven seed Cathedral’s 83-80, Open Division, overtime victory at No. 2 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was the stunner of the regional tournament and elevated the  Dons (21-6)  into another tough road battle against No. 3 Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-2) at nearby El Camino College.

The Knights 72-58, overtime conqueror of Los Angeles Westchester, in the quarterfinals, lost to Chino Hills, 71-67, on Jan. 30, and to Sierra Canyon, 78-69, in the Southern Section playoffs.

Inspired Cathedral must keep 6-11 Brandon McCoy out of foul trouble.  He sat for 12 minutes in the first half at Sierra Canyon but still finished with 23 points.

Guess: Bishop Montgomery 64, Cathedral 61.

+No. 12 St. Augustine (24-7) is the lowest surviving seed in Division I and visits No. 1 Encino Crespi Carmelite (30-4).

The teams have played against one common opponent.

Crespi beat Bellflower St. John Bosco, 59-25, on Dec. 21, and St. Augustine topped ‘Bosco, 62-52, on Jan. 5.

St. Augustine last gained the regional finals in 2013 when Trey Kell, Brynton Lamar and company came from 11 points behind in the fourth quarter to top West Hills Chaminade, 61-57.

MONROE DOCTRINE

An important contributor to the Saints’ victory in that game at Colony High was freshman Eric Monroe, inserted into the lineup by coach Mike Haupt in the fourth quarter.

Monroe’s ball-handling coolness under pressure was significant and has been a benchmark of his play for four years.  Monroe is the Saints’ handyman, the one to whom they turn to get the ball up court and position the offense.

The 6-foot, 3-inch senior was particularly effective last week when Eastvale Roosevelt took a 22-13 lead and had the Saints on their heels before St. Augustine rallied to a 54-52 victory before an overflow crowd at Daugherty Gymnasium.

Monroe and his senior counterpart, Martin Tombe, who hit two, big three-point shots in the fourth quarter, again will carry the Saints’ hopes against the favored San Fernando Valley squad.

Guess:  Crespi 66, St. Augustine 60.

+El Camino is thriving in D-IV, having routed Rancho Mirage, 90-66, and upsetting No. 1 seed Pomona Diamond Ranch, 63-58, after surviving a 30-point fourth quarter by the host Panthers.

The eight-seed Wildcats (29-6) now travel to Calabasas to take on the five-seed, 28-6 Viewpoint Panthers, who have victories over Kern County Taft Union, 77-37, and 76-69 over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

El Camino, coached by former Army-Navy boss Tom Tarantino,  has rallied after losing to Kearny, 66-43, in the San Diego Section D-I finals.

The Wildcats have their best chance of getting past the semifinals since the Millenium-era teams coached by Ray Johnson annually were the San Diego Section’s best.

Guess:  El Camino 59, Viewpoint 55.

+The four-seed Mission Hills (29-3) girls draw the No. 1 seed and host West Hills Chaminade (28-4).

The Grizzlies advanced with a 49-45 victory over Los Angeles Windward.  Chaminade defeated Los Angeles Palisades, 79-67.

Guess: Chaminade 62, Mission Hills 50.

MORE QUARTERFINALS RESULTS

BOYS

D-IV

11 Grossmont 50, @3 Gardena Serra 65.

D-V

9 Bonita Vista 56, @1 Santa Maria St. Joseph 97.

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