All Ball Sports: Costa girls VB number 2, boys FBs plow ahead, Clippers ‘Fear the Beard’

Bryn Shankle gets past a Monarch block during the tightly contested CIF-Southern Section Championships on Saturday night at Cerritos College. Photo by Ray Vidal

by Paul Teetor

The Mira Costa girls volleyball team had another opportunity Saturday night to win their first CIF-Southern Section championship since 2007, but they fell just short for the second consecutive season.

Last year, the Mustangs lost the CIF final in three sets against Sierra Canyon. Saturday, the Mustangs suffered another finals sweep, losing this time to Mater Dei 28-26, 25-15, 25-20 at Cerritos College.

“We lost to the best team tonight,” Mira Costa coach Cam Green said. This was the third meeting of the season between the top two teams in the state. They split the two previous matches. Mira Costa swept Mater Dei in the non league match, but the Monarchs beat them in the finals of the Durango Fall Classic.

Green was a gracious loser.

“Our ball control wasn’t great, which led to some inconsistent setting,” Green said. “At the end of the day, serve and passing were pretty good. We got them in some trouble, but the difference is when we got them in trouble, we still couldn’t score those points.”

He lamented the lost opportunities to win — or at least to make it a closer match. 

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we got a bad pass or a bad set, or they tooled us, we missed a dig. I think that was the difference. When we had chances, we didn’t score. You have to score the points that you’re supposed to score against a team that’s that good.”

The Mustangs rallied from a 24-20 deficit in the first set to tie the Monarchs 24-24 on a block by Rachel Moglia. However, at 26-26, the Monarchs closed the set with a block and a kill.

That was as close as the Mustangs got. Mater Dei jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead in the second set and cruised from there.

The Mustangs took an early lead in the third set, but the Monarchs fought back and took the lead for good at 14-13.

“They’re good, fast and they put a lot of stress on you defensively to get into the right spot, the block in the right spot, that’s what makes this team good,” Green said. “When you’re that physical and you run it fast and you’re good at it, it’s tough.”

Mira Costa could get another shot at Mater Dei in the regional tournament. All eight teams in the CIF-SS Division 1 bracket will advance to the regional field, with Mater Dei the top seed and Costa second.

Green was already putting this loss behind him and looking forward to competing in the regional tournament.

“I love who we are, I love who we have, I’m not ashamed of anything, we put it all out there on the floor and lost to a better team,” Green said. “It hurts a lot, but now we have to get after it, regroup and see if we can make a run.”

The Football Beat Goes On

Against all odds, both the Mira Costa football team and the Redondo football team are moving on to the second round of the playoffs.

In Division 6 Costa crushed Yucaipa 28-13 behind Reese Leonard, their senior star receiver/defensive back. He tallied both an interception and a touchdown in a game that was never close.

As a result, Mira Costa will host a second-round game against Cypress Friday night. 

Redondo, on the other hand, pulled out a double overtime thriller over Bishop Diego in Division 7.

The Sea Hawks kicked a fourth-quarter field goal to tie the game Friday night, then almost lost the game in overtime on an interception return, but finally prevailed in the second overtime.

After Bishop Diego missed a go-ahead field goal on their second OT possession, Redondo’s Nicholas London connected with Cadence Turner for a 23-yard score and a 29-23 victory.

“It was a huge win, a great team win,” Redondo coach Keith Ellison said. “It took us three hours to get out there, it was quite the trip, but the guys stayed focused and battled against a pretty good team. It was an awesome victory for us.”

Nick McGee booted a 26-yard field goal with 26 seconds for Redondo to tie the game at 23-23.

On the first play of the first overtime, Bishop Diego intercepted a London pass and nearly ended the game with a return for a TD, but the defender was knocked out of bounds at the 10.

Bishop Diego failed to convert on a fourth-down in the second overtime, setting up Redondo’s game-winning chance.

Redondo will be home Friday against El Dorado in the quarterfinals.

The Lakers beat the Clippers 130-125 this week, breaking a streak of 11 consecutive Clippers victories over the Lakers. They had to go to overtime to do it, and LeBron James had to exceed his self-imposed 30-minute playing limit by 12 minutes, but they finally got their first win over the Clippers since 2020.

The Clippers, and owner Steve Ballmer took great pride in their win streak over their landlord at the Crypt — they don’t have much else to be proud of — and normally the end of the streak would have been the biggest Clipper story of the week.  

But not this week

The week’s biggest Clipper story – indeed, the biggest LA sports story of the week — was the Clippers trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for talented-but-troubled guard James Harden.

Depending on your point of view regarding the NBA’s second most polarizing player behind Kyrie Irving, it was either great news or terrible news.

It was either the bombshell move they needed to get themselves into championship contention, or the kiss of death for a team that already has two and a half stars – Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and a newly team-oriented Russell Westbrook – who all love and need to handle the rock.

The Harden trade had been rumored for months, so it hardly came as a surprise. Harden publicly called Philly General Manager Darly Morey “a liar” and vowed he would never play for a team that employed Morey. In other words, Harden basically issued a “him or me” ultimatum — and it turned out he was the one who had to go. 

Then, more than a month ago, he said he would only play for the Clippers, thus costing Philly a great deal of leverage in trying to make a trade.  No one else wanted to take on his $35 million contract, bad attitude, and declining skills.

Harden is no longer a superstar, but he is still a star and the Clippers paid 50 cents on the dollar for him. They gave up three rotation guys on expiring contracts in Robert Covington, Marcus Morris and Nicholas Batum, plus a package of draft picks, including two first rounders. 

So was it a good move or not? All Ball thinks not, but in this rare case he could be wrong.

It’s just that there are so many variables – positive and negative – that it is impossible to predict what effect the arrival of the one-time NBA MVP, 10-time NBA All Star and three-time NBA scoring champion will have on the Clippers season, which is already two weeks old.

First, let’s look at the pros of the trade. Not only is Harden one of the most talented scorers in the world, but a little-known fact is that last year he led the NBA in assists, averaging more than 10.5 a game. 

That means he is not only great at scoring, but he’s also a good passer who is great at helping others score. But to do that requires the ball be in his hands most of the time he is on the court, so he can either shoot or pass.

Right now, the Clippers stars are Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who were brought here four years ago promising championships but have delivered none. Oh sure, there was one trip to the Western Conference Finals two years ago, but that’s it.

Last season they didn’t make it past the first round and both of the aging “stars” missed much of the season due to injuries.

Now Kawhi is 32, PG is 33 and Westbrook will turn 35 next month, while Harden is 34.

So, the one thing we can say with any degree of certainty is this: Westbrook is the odd man out.

The Clips picked him up off the scrap heap for nothing after his disastrous run with the Lakers, but they paid a big price for Harden. Therefore, he will be handed the ball and told to go create for himself and for others.

Both Kawhi and PG need someone else to start the offense, so the fit there should be seamless. But Westbrook will have to go to the bench and become the backup point guard. That role simply doesn’t fit his volatile personality.

All Ball gives it a month – two at the most – before he is agitating for a trade.

Whether Harden can help the Clips win a title or even get to the Western Conference Finals?

Stay tuned. 

It’s a genuine cliffhanger.

Contact: Follow: @paulteetor. ER           


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