Crespi Wins San Fernando Valley Invitational

Crespi (10-0) defeated Mission League rival Alemany 64-59 Wednesday night at Granada Hills High School for its second consecutive San Fernando Valley Invitational championship.

Michael Avery, an all-tournament selection, led the way with 18 points. Tournament MVP London Perrantes added 17, Carter Gallo scored 12 and all-tournament selection Michael Milligan Jr. contributed seven points.

After Crespi raced out to a 7-2 lead, the momentum shifted to Alemany. The Warriors roared back with a 17-5 run to open up a 19-12 lead in the second quarter.

Senior Justin Rubia, who scored nine points, made a tough contested shot in the lane and was fouled to cut the deficit to 24-21 at halftime.

In the second half, the Celts rose to the occasion.

“I think our defense was a lot better (in the second half),” said Perrantes. “Once we get out and run on the fast break, that’s where we score most of our points, and that’s how we came out with the win.”

The Celts took a 29-28 lead in the third quarter and never looked back when Avery rejected an Alemany shooter, and after a Milligan Jr. steal, he ran the length of the floor and finished with an acrobatic shot, knifing in and out of traffic.

“We kept playing hard,” said Avery. “We didn’t turn the ball over as much and just made free throws.”

Avery was a perfect 11-for-11 at the charity stripe. He scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

The Celts widened the margin to 54-44 on a Gallo in rhythm three-pointer in the fourth quarter, but Alemany cut the lead to three on three occassions. Each time they got within one possession, Avery had the answer – sinking six free throws with less than 30 seconds left.

“That’s just what I live for,” said Avery, who recently committed to Sonoma State. “I wanted to win so badly. I had to make those free throws.”

Crespi will travel to the Redondo Union Sea Hawk Beach Classic next week.

Sierra Canyon Takes Care of Business at Home Depot Center

Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (15-0) defeated Le Grand 34-13 Friday night for the Div. IV state championship at the Home Depot Center.

The Trailblazers raised the state trophy in only their third season as an 11-man program – the first ever San Fernando Valley team to accomplish this feat.

The Trailblazers jumped out to a quick start when Tyler Stewart led a 10-play, 80-yard drive to open the game. Stewart capped off the drive by finding Reggie Prince over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead. Stewart finished 13 of 25 for 163 yards and one touchdown.

Le Grand answered with two touchdowns, was clinging to a 13-7 lead and driving again in the second quarter when Brian Tucker’s redzone interception (his second in two weeks) stopped their momentum. It was all Sierra Canyon from then on.

The Trailblazers scored 27 unanswered points beginning with a 41-yard touchdown burst by Xavier Menifield.

“I just saw one of the receivers blocking downfield and I knew I had to cut off his block because he was doing his job, so I had to do my job,” said Menifield, who finished with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.

Sierra Canyon took a 14-13 lead into the half.

“The defense made some adjustments after halftime, and we got back to our brand of football,” said William Young, who forced two fumbles in the game.

In the second half, Reggie Prince swung the momentum for the Trailblazers by intercepting a pass on the first play from scrimmage. Sierra Canyon capitalized on the great field possession with a three-play 19-yard drive culminating in a Danny Jordan seven-yard touchdown dash extending the lead to 21-13.

“It was a great hole, I have to give all the credit to the line,” said Jordan, who rushed for 70 yards on 11 carries. “It was a great feeling. It felt like I blacked out. I scored and then I looked up and saw my mom and dad in the stands. It was one of the greatest feelings ever.”

Sierra Canyon’s defense stifled a Le Grand offense that was averaging 58.5 points a game, forcing three more fumbles and recovering two. Tucker and Sunny Helo recovered the fumbles.

Menifield sealed the deal with touchdown runs of 2 and 7 yards to give the Trailblazers a 34-13 lead in the third quarter. They finished with an impressive seven-plus minute drive to milk the clock.

“This program is in an incredible place and we’re very proud of what’s been built here,” said Coach Jon Ellinghouse. “Now we have a challenge to keep it going.”

Sierra Canyon Wins East Valley Championship

Sierra Canyon (14-0) defeated Paraclete 47-14 Saturday night in front of a crowd of about 2,000 in freezing temperatures at Antelope Valley College.

The Trailblazers hoisted up their first ever CIF trophy by avenging last season’s championship lost to Paraclete. The Spirits had previously won eight CIF titles in eight championship appearances before losing last night.

The Trailblazers got out to a quick start when Tyler Stewart connected with Xavier Menifield for a 71-yard bomb on the team’s first offensive play.

“I turned my burners on and got past number 14,” said Menifield. “When the ball was in the air, I had to fight for it for my teammates.”

Paraclete tied the game at 7-7, and was driving late in the second quarter, but after Brian Tucker’s redzone interception, it was all Sierra Canyon from there.

The Trailblazers scored 40 unanswered points beginning with a well-executed two-minute drill culminating with Menifield’s second touchdown of the day. Sierra Canyon took a 14-7 lead into the half.

In the second half, Menifield broke free on a 57-yard touchdown run, his third score of the game.

“Xavier did a phenomenal job for us tonight,” said Coach Jon Ellinghouse. “He ran the ball hard, and we put some of it on his back and he responded.”

Sierra Canyon continued its touchdown party when Danny Jordan found the crease and sprinted 78 yards to give the Trailblazers a 26-7 lead.

“I got to give everything to the linemen,” said Jordan. It’s a play we’ve been working on all year. I saw the cutback lane, hit it and the next thing I know, I’m in the endzone.”

Stewart added a 41-yard touchdown scamper to extend the lead to 33-7.

Menifield scored on runs of 35 and 44 to seal the deal.

“I just kept driving my legs and my teammates were making great blocks,” said Menifield. “A month ago, this team knocked me out in the first quarter, so I had to show them I could keep up with them.”

The win means Sierra Canyon will play at the Home Depot Center on Friday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m for the Division IV State Championship.