Tag Archives: Basketball

Rick’s Sports Corner: Burbank High’s Ben Burnham Has Speed Galore

By Rick Assad

Whenever Ben Burnham walked onto the football field or the basketball court for Burbank High, he had two secret weapons in his hip picket that made him tough to defend.

While playing on the gridiron, Burnham, a wide receiver, would line up and then blast off down the field and after running a nearly flawless pattern, would usually snare the ball and in some cases, make an acrobatic, eye-popping catch.

On the hardwood, Burnham, a shooting guard, was a young man constantly in motion, running up and down the court, looking to make a cut to the hoop for an easy bucket, or getting the ball to the open man for a wide open jumper.

When Burnham played defense, he was constantly hounding the man he was assigned to cover.

Burbank High wide receiver Ben Burnham made aerobatic catches seem easy. (Photo courtesy Ben Burnham)

A recent graduate who will attend Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Burnham, a 6-footer who tips the scale at 175 pounds, will play football and perhaps hoops at the NCAA Division III level, knew exactly what his top assets were and used them to the utmost of his ability.

“My best trait for each sport was speed and athleticism, which really helped in all aspects of football and basketball,” said Burnham, who grabbed a team-best 43 receptions for 1,015 yards for a 26.6 average per catch along with team-high for receivers nine touchdowns as the Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VII playoffs.

In terms of which sport had a higher priority for Burnham, who will be a pre-law major, it was basketball because he didn’t try his hand at football until his second year in high school.

“I actually only started playing football my sophomore year, so basketball was my first sport, but they both came pretty naturally,” he said.

Ben Burnham races down the floor for the Bulldogs. Speed was a key asset that made him excel. (Photo courtesy Ben Burnham)

Knowing that it’s tough both physically and mentally to participate in two sports, was there ever any doubt that  Burnham would engage in both?

“I played two sports because I loved the games and felt I could excel at both,” he said. “It [playing football] was not a pre-set goal coming into high school. It just kind of happened.”

Burnham’s football coach is Adam Colman, who played the position for the same school and is thankful it worked out that way.

“We take pride in being competitive. It’s one of the core values and Ben epitomized that,” Colman said. “He competed in everything he did. He challenged me to play him one-on-one in basketball if we had five minutes before practice started. He was always looking to compete.”

Colman went on: “That combined with his unselfishness made him special. When Aram [Araradian] and Kuba [Raymond] got hurt and we had to pivot to being a more run-oriented team, Ben became one of our best blockers,” he said. “For a 1,000-yard wide receiver to immediately turn all his attention to blocking is rare and speaks to his commitment to winning above all else.”

On defense, Burnham played cornerback and delivered nine solo tackles and had three assists as a senior.

Ben Burnham with his family on Senior Night. (Photo courtesy Ben Burnham)

There is a reason why Burnham wasn’t thinking of himself, but rather the welfare of the team.

“The main reason I try to be unselfish is because I want to win and sometimes the best way to do that might be through other people and I understand that,” he said.

Burnham, who finished with 1,377 yards on 66 receptions for a 20.8 yards per reception average and 12 touchdowns across his career, said the coronavirus threat has put a damper on his college choices.

“With COVID-19, I delayed my decision to make sure that everything would be open and safe before I made my decision,” he said.

Being focused on the task at hand helped Burnham to play at a high level, and was grateful for the student body turning out and lending support.

“The crowd noise really faded out once everything started, but coming out during timeouts and the start of games to the crowd cheering, definitely added to the hype,” he said.

Making spectacular receptions was the norm for Ben Burnham, who holds the school yardage reception record in a playoff game. (Photo courtesy Ben Burnham)

Sid Cooke, the first-year Burbank boys’ basketball coach, saw something special in Burnham and feels that the program is heading in the right direction despite not making the postseason.

“He had a great attitude and led by example. I had him only one year, but his leadership set the tone for the future of the program,” he said of Burnham, who tossed in an average of eight points while grabbing five rebounds and handing out three assists this past season.

The most difficult and trying part of playing two sports was making sure Burnham’s body was ready for the grind.

“It was a pretty tough transition from football to basketball since the conditioning is so different, but after a week or two, it was pretty much business as usual,” Burnham noted.

Burnham compared each sport and the challenge each presented. “Getting hit on the field definitely hurt a lot more being that it’s a much more direct sport,” he explained. “The physicality of basketball is more about leverage and positioning.”

Ben Burnham uses his speed to run past a defender. (Photo courtesy Ben Burnham)

Burnham pointed out the two sports do take a toil, even if it’s not obvious initially.

“It’s a lot of physical work as well as stressful mentally, but all that goes away when the game starts and that’s what I love about sports,” he said.

One football game and one basketball game are stuck in Burnham’s memory bank.

“The most memorable for football was definitely my senior year against Arcadia,” he said. “I had 308 yards and three touchdowns against the defending [Pacific] League champs, breaking the school record for yards in a game by almost 100 yards. The most memorable basketball game was at Crescenta Valley my junior year. We upset them and won a close game. I had a near triple-double in the game.”

In that football contest at the Apaches in September, the Bulldogs romped to an easy 48-7 decision.

For many, spending so much practice time and game time builds lifelong bonds. You can double this when two sports are involved.

“The thing I will remember the most are the people I played with and the memories we built along the way,” Burnham said. “From every spring practice to the last team lunch.”

 

Rick’s Sports Corner: Burroughs High’s Nicholas Garcia, Football, Hoop Dynamo

By Rick Assad

There is something special to be said about a person who can play two high school sports at the varsity level.

Beside being good enough to make each squad, there is also the time spent on the practice field or in the gymnasium, then actually playing the games and also being a student in the classroom.

Being able to do all three are time consuming and takes a great deal of hard work along with a fulltime commitment and it’s going to result in sweat, triumphs and some setbacks, but it also means they are determined.

Nicholas Garcia did just that for Burroughs High, as the recent graduate toiled at quarterback for the football team in the fall for two seasons and was the point guard on the basketball squad in the winter for a couple of campaigns.

Nicholas Garcia unloading a pass for the Indians. The senior threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Garcia)

Each position that Garcia played entailed being the field or floor leader which can also be mentally draining.

Football is a real contact sport and because it is, can be tough physically on the body.

So let’s not kid ourselves, one has to be extremely tough to play the game.

While basketball isn’t generally considered a contact sport, it can be at times, especially under the boards battling for a rebound or trying to defend underneath the basket.

Garcia, who will attend Glendale Community College where he’ll play football, knew the challenges and welcomed them.

But like everyone else, though, Garcia and football this fall will be on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both sports, when I’m having fun, I’m playing great, making smart reads,” said Garcia, who passed for 1,980 yards with 30 touchdown tosses, ran for 415 yards with seven scores and added 20 extra points in 2019. “When I’m not playing so well, the communication with my teammates or coaches may be off. So I would fix it.”

As the football field general and primary ball-handler for the basketball squad, Garcia was in charge.

“I feel that I was a leader in both sports. I feel that bond with my teammates on and off the field and can lead them in the right direction and I know they feel the same way,” said Garcia, who was named by the team as the Most Valuable Player. “That’s why they trust me to be their quarterback and point guard.”

Nicholas Garcia could also run effectively with the football. But here he’s pitching the ball to a running back. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Garcia)

Because no team wins all of its games, there are highs and lows, with the latter always requiring a cool head.

In 2019, the Burroughs football team began its season with five consecutive wins before losing four straight.

But in the final regular season match and a large throng at Memorial Field, the Indians, who went 6-4 overall and 2-4 in the Pacific League, pulled out an incredible 29-28 victory.

“The Burbank-Burroughs game this year was absolutely amazing,” Garcia said. “The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The feeling when we won is indescribable. I will never forget that day.”

In 2018, the Indians football team struggled to a 2-8 record and a 2-5 mark in the league and was one in which Garcia was named Most Valuable Skills Player.

“When both sports went through a rough patch, I immediately hopped in and communicated with my teammates on how we can fix it,” Garcia said. “Communication is the key to winning. I will always believe in that.”

Football and basketball offered a different mindset for Garcia, who plans on transferring to UC Davis or Cal Poly Pomona.

Nicholas Garcia wasn’t afraid to get his uniform dirty. Here he goes over the top of a Burbank defender. (Photo courtesy Nicholas Garcia)

“My mental approach for both sports was not the same,” Garcia said. “I went into football games with a set game plan knowing what to call and the different defenses I would see throughout the game. Basketball, the sport itself, is on the go. You must make different plays and be ready in a faster time.”

Garcia tried to make both sports fun for himself and his teammates.

“What I loved about football was being able to throw the ball to some of my best friends and having a party on the sideline every game,” he said, referring to when the Indians scored points. “Basketball I loved being around my friends and playing fast the whole time.”

The Indians had a successful hoops campaign during his senior season after posting a 19-10 record and 7-7 in league.

For his part, Garcia tossed in an average of about eight points and handed out roughly six assists per contest last season.

Burroughs defeated rival Burbank on the road 70-57, but lost at home 46-42 and was stymied on the road by St. Bonaventure 55-45 in a CIF Southern Section Division III-A opening-round match.

“Nick brought leadership to the basketball team and a certain tenacity to the team with his play,” Burroughs coach Allan Ellis said of Garcia. “Coming from football as a quarterback, our kids naturally followed his lead.”

In the previous season, the Indians went 11-16 in all games and posted a 4-10 mark in league and missed the playoffs.

The Indians did manage to beat the visiting Bulldogs 66-61, but lost to host Burbank, 83-49.

It’s impossible to succeed entirely, but Garcia, who was always willing to speak after a game and break it down during a postgame interview, was able to come away with enough wins and enough highs.

“My best asset for both sports is sharing the ball and my instinct,” he said. “I love setting up my teammates for success. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Garcia admitted that football came just a little bit easier than hoops. “I think playing basketball is harder than playing football,” he noted. “I just feel this way because football comes more natural to me.”

Though his high school athletic career is over, Garcia knows that he gave everything he had to offer and was willing to sacrifice his body.

“For football, I am most proud of leading my guys out every game at the best of my abilities, whether we won or lost,” he said. “I know I put my all in it. For basketball, I was most proud that I could set my guys up and have fun with them whether we won or lost.”

When Garcia reflects on his time at Burroughs, he is pleased and will carry fond memories of his time at the school.

“What I will remember most about playing two sports at Burroughs would be the practices would never stop,” he said. “I would always be playing one or another.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Burroughs High’s Steven Hubbell, Hoopster, Gunslinger

By Rick Assad

There were times when Steven Hubbell made playing basketball and football for Burroughs High seem effortless.

Whether it was hitting an open teammate for an easy hoop or tossing a perfect spiral downfield, Hubbell was always thinking on his feet and usually made the right play.

Of course, this isn’t easy, but Hubbell was able to elevate his skills while toiling at point guard and quarterback at the prep level.

After a brief stay at Cal Lutheran University, which is a Division III program and Glendale Community College, Hubbell, a 2016 graduate, is a senior on the men’s basketball team at the University of Hawaii Hilo where he’s coming off a campaign in which he played in 21 of the 26 games and drilled 42.1 percent of his three-pointers (eight of 19).

Hubbell, standing 6-foot, 1-inch and weighing 170 pounds, said despite loving both sports, he simply couldn’t turn his back on basketball, where he averaged 12 points with four rebounds and four assists at Burroughs.

Steven Hubbell, shown in a game from last season when he was a junior. (Photo courtesy Steven Hubbell)

“I personally like basketball more,” he said. “I just enjoy the fast pace, up and down action. I like football too, but basketball was always a love thing for me.”

The journey that brought Hubbell to Hawaii Hilo is something that has made him stronger and more determined.

“I knew I wanted to pursue basketball at the collegiate level. After my career at John Burroughs, I was first committed to Cal Lutheran University,” he said. “The second week I was there, the head coach decided to retire, so I quickly left for Glendale Community College after the semester and immediately redshirted so I could practice with the team in preparation for the next year. I spent two years under Coach [Vigen] Jilizian and was honored All-Western State Conference my last year at GCC. I was blessed to be recruited by the University of Hawaii Hilo, where I’m happily at right now.”

Hubbell is extremely thankful for having the opportunity to play for the Vaqueros where he averaged 11.6 points with four boards and 3.2 assists and canned 51 three-pointers as a sophomore.

“The junior college system is not easy, but I found it worth it, looking back now,” he said. “A lot of people don’t find success after JUCO, so I’m blessed that it’s not the case for me.”

Steven Hubbell, a two-sport athlete at Burroughs High, has one more season left at the University of Hawaii Hilo. (Photo courtesy Steven Hubbell)

Like the world at large, everything is at a standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Hubbell, like so many athletes, is trying to stay in shape and is hoping for the best.

“There will obviously be no summer workouts with the team,” he said. “It’s just our responsibility to stay in shape and ready to get back to basketball. As of May 11, my school still plans to have in-person classes for the fall. However, anything could happen and I’m sure they will see what other schools across the world are doing and go from there.”

Hubbell, a Business Management major who played basketball for three seasons and football for two at Burroughs, said that playing two sports are challenging, but he found a way to succeed.

“I’d say a high level of focus is one, but also a strong work ethic is key,” he said. “I also thought that focusing on winning and what I can do to better my team helped in the long run.”

Playing point guard and quarterback are similar in many respects, according to Hubbell, who was named All-Pacific League first-team as a senior, second-team as a junior and honorable mention as a sophomore while playing basketball.

“You must be a leader whether that is encouraging your guys or by being in the front during drills,” he said. “We had tremendous talent on both teams and a lot of us are playing at the next level right now. I love to compete, so my attitude was very similar in both sports.”

A 10-game regular season football schedule can be grueling and when the CIF Southern Section games are added, it was even more taxing for Hubbell, who was selected All-CIF and was named the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year in football as a senior.

“It was tough my senior year because I hurt my back my last football game,” said Hubbell, who threw for 1,853 yards and tossed 27 scoring passes and ran for six touchdowns. “I had to miss the next week of basketball practice which killed me, because I was eager to get out there on the court. It took me a couple of games to get back in condition, but after that, it was smooth.”

Ultimately, the Indians’ postseason run during Hubbell’s senior year in football and basketball was incredible, even if each didn’t reach their final destination.

“We made it to the quarters that year [2015], but we did win the Pacific League,” Hubbell explained. “Looking back, it was a great experience because Burroughs hadn’t won a conference title in many years and haven’t won one since. I take pride in that even though we fell short of our real goal of a CIF championship.”

The Indians went 10-2 and 7-0 in league after routing the Bulldogs 47-21 in the regular-season finale.

Their season concluded when they fell to host St. Francis 21-7, in part because their best running back, Chance Bell, who is playing for San Diego State, was out with an injury.

The final regular-season contest against Burbank was something to behold. “Memorial Field was packed and we secured our Pacific League title,” Hubbell explained of its singular importance.

Several months later at the Indians’ gymnasium, Hubbell capped off his high school athletic career when Burroughs faced highly-ranked Santa Monica in the CIF semifinals, with a full house in attendance.

“We played against a guy named Jonah Mathews, who gave us the work and he just finished his career at USC, which is my favorite school, so it was salt in the wound every time I watch the Trojans,” he said. “But the atmosphere was crazy that night and I’ll never forget that.”

Mathews was almost unstoppable, scoring at will against the Indians, who lost 68-45 and finished 22-8 and 9-5 in league, hitting three-pointers, something that he would do at USC, where he broke the career school record with 247.

Hubbell said playing two demanding sports isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you have the desire, go right ahead.

“I’d say go play three [sports] if you have enough energy,” he said. “It may be mentally draining at times, but if you’re passionate about the sport then you could sacrifice a little. But just know that your summer’s will be all booked up. You will also make friends for life!”

Bell-Jeff Boys Basketball to Play at Staples Center

— It’s every high schools basketball player’s dream to one day play on a real NBA court. The varsity boys basketball team from Bellarmine-Jefferson High School will have their wishes come true as they take on San Gabriel Academy live at the Staples Center on Wednesday, February 12, at 3 p.m.

bell-jeffNot only do the Guards get the chance to play on a real NBA court, but they also get to stick around to see the pros play as the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Portland Trail Blazers later that evening at 7:30 p.m. The team, their fans and their families and friends get two for the price of one as part of the Clippers’ Play Where the Pros Play: Pregame Court Time program for youth and high school basketball teams.

“I’m not sure that the players will really understand the thrill and excitement of this Staples Center game until they step out onto the court,” said Coach Julian Andrade. “It definitely is a special and memorable moment that the players can share for the rest of their lives. We are so glad that the student body will be able to come out and support this special event.”

Ticket prices range from $15 to $55 for both games. Students, parents and friends also have the option of taking a bus to and from school to the Staples Center.

Young Pups Show Their Teeth

Burbank High School’s Frosh boys’ basketball team won the Pacific League this past season, going 20-5 overall and 12-2 in league under Coach Mike Graceffo.

Alec Agana, Anthony Aghajani, Joeal Akobian, Kyle Alvarez, Chris Chunn, Joe Grasse, Dorian Householder, CJ Hunter, Malik Johnson, Anthony Kardosh, Hussein Maaz, Robert Martinez, Malik Moody, Robert O’Brien, Raul Ochoa, Darren Shanian, and James Williams made-up the squad.

Graceffo was assisted by Larry Nelson, Todd Davis, Fred Orr and Varag Zakarian. Congratulations on a fine season.

Rivals Meet: Burroughs Helps, While Next Look to Hinder Rival

Playoff chases have funny moments of irony at times. Bitter rivals often find themselves cheering for one another in the season’s final games with their postseason fate impacted by the effort of others.

Burroughs boys’ basketball has struggled again this season. The Indians have rarely been healthy this season and they lack the depth to absorb injuries like the ones that plagued them through the first two months of the season.

Burbank High Boys Basketball defeats Crosstown Rivals Burroughs 70 to 59 earlier this season. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

On February 7 a now healthy Burroughs team who had actually been able to start the same line-up in consecutive games put together its best effort of the season, blasting the Glendale Nitros 68-38, and slowing their march to the post season.

The win improved the Indians to just 2-11 in league and 9-17 overall but showed that they were committed to the role of spoilers. Their rivals, the Burbank Bulldogs were busy getting back to .500 overall (13-13) and moving into a fourth place tie with Glendale in the Pacific League at 5-8 in league.

“We are just focused on playing our best ball at the end and showing what we might have been able to do a little healthier and a little more fortunate at times this year,” Burroughs head coach Adam Hochberg said late Tuesday. “We have had moments where we just looked lost and our effort lapsed for stretches this year — that didn’t happen tonight. We took charge early and we never let go.”

Zeke Zuniga and Jorge Flores-Pere each scored a game-high 17 points for Burroughs. They both missed the entire preseason with injuries and are just now in the game shape it takes to play for four quarters. Burroughs shot over 50% from the floor for one of the few times this season. It led by five after one quarter of play and 37-21 at the half after two long scoring runs in the second quarter.

If Burroughs puts together a similar effort again against Burbank it could spoil the Bulldogs revived playoff hopes. Burbank loses the tie breaker to Glendale, having been swept by the Nitros this season. Glendale has to deal with its rival, Hoover, tonight. Although the Tornadoes are also a two-win team in league, one of their victories was against their crosstown rivals, Glendale, on January 20.

Burbank beat Burroughs 70-59 on January 20, although the games was extremely close early. A sweep of the Indians and a Glendale loss would give the Bulldogs the final automatic playoff berth out of the Pacific League. What could be as important, a win would move them to 14-13 overall and increase the likelihood that they could earn an at-large berth.

Sports Shorts: Burbank and Burroughs High School Action

BURBANK GETS MUCH NEEDED WIN

Andre Spight scored a season-high 31 points, matching the Hoover Tornadoes total by himself as Burbank boys’ basketball halted a four-game skid with a much needed win at Hoover High, 70-31.

Spight sunk six three-pointers and teammate Caine Brown Kennedy added 13 points in the route. With Glendale’s loss against Muir Friday, February 3 Burbank is just one game back of the fourth and final playoff spot out of the Pacific League with two games remaining on the schedule. However, the Nitros swept Burbank this season.

Bulldogs coach Jose Hernandez has said his team could still qualify for an at-large berth, but at 12-13 overall and just 4-8 in league that is far from a certainty.

INDIANS DROP CRUCIAL CONTEST

In contrast, the Burroughs girls’ basketball team dropped a pivotal league contest at Arcadia on February 3 , 42-28. The Apaches improved to 8-4 in league and clinched no worse than third place in league, while Burroughs fell to 5-7 in league and now must win its final two games to secure the fourth and final post season spot.

A 10-2 run in the second quarter was too much for the young Indians to overcome. Aysia Shellmire scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in defeat. Teammate April Harris added seven points while the rest of the Indians managed just four points.

BURBANK REMAINS IN SECOND PLACE

Not losing focus on a Friday night before next week’s contests that include senior night and a February 9 battle with cross town rival Burroughs, the Burbank girls’ basketball team blasted Hoover on February 3, 55-32, to move a step closer to clinching the second spot in the Pacific League.

Burbank is 15-10 overall and 9-3 in league.

Damarie Gonzalez scored 12 points, Jamie Gonzalez added 1o and Aja Locke nine for the Bulldogs.

IN OTHER ACTION…

Burroughs girls’ water polo finished the regular season in second place and ranked No. 5 in the CIF SS Division V polls after beating Arcadia, 14-4, on February 1. The Tribe was 17-3 overall and 5-1 in league on the season but finished second to Crescenta Valley after being defeated by the Falcons, 16-4, late January.

Burroughs’ boys soccer played to a 1-1 tie against Arcadia on February 3, good enough to remain in second place at 7-8 overall and 6-3-3 in league as head coach Mike Kodama continues to clean-up the mess he inherited in his return to the sidelines after a two-year hiatus.

Sports Shorts: Pacific League Basketball Races, Anding Picks Up State Honor

Pacific League Basketball Races

WEEK OF JANUARY 23 — It hasn’t been a great week for the Burbank High girls’ basketball team. Opening the second half of Pacific League play, the Bulldogs dropped a pair of games this week to Pasadena and Muir. In addition, the Bulldogs thought they were in a first place tie with Muir when the week started, only to learn hours before their contest with Pasadena on Monday that Muir’s loss to the “other Bulldogs” last week had been over turned because Pasadena suited-up an ineligible player.

So in short, Burbank fell three games out of first in span of four days while playing only two games. Making the week tougher yet, the Bulldogs must play a third game this week tonight, January 27, when they travel to Crescenta Valley to play the Falcons (12-9 overall and 4-5 in league). Burbank hopes to finish league strong and secure the league’s number two seed as it is presently 12-10 overall and 6-3 in league.

Burroughs High — the reigning league champions — refuses to go quietly. Although the Indians will not repeat as league champions, they did string together two wins this week to get back into the playoff picture. Burroughs is now 5-4 in league (10-12 overall) and tied with Arcadia for fourth place in the Pacific race. The Indians start a tough stretch tonight at Pasadena and then play at Muir and at Arcadia next week. The stretch of games to close league, including the finale versus their crosstown rivals Burbank on February 9 could have huge implications.

Although the Burroughs boys’ basketball team got its first win this week with a double overtime win versus Hoover, the Indians continue to struggle and were routed by Crescenta Valley on January 26, 64-38. Burbank fell to 3-6 with back-to-back losses to Muir and Pasadena. The Bulldogs remain in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot with Glendale and Arcadia, however, despite the poor league record.

Burbank could get into the playoffs with a strong finish, however, it is also possible that both boys’ teams in the city miss out on the postseason this year.

 

Anding’s Latest Honor

 

ESPNHS Cal-HI Sports expanded its list of members of the All-State Football team on January 25 and Burroughs star and Pacific League Player of the Year Zander Anding was one of 14 players listed at running back who were named to the second, third and fourth teams. An additional nine players were listed as multi-purpose players who also played running back.

It is an honor to be in such company for sure as the list attempts to recognize the best players in the state, but the 33rd annual edition of the list was expanded to 30 members of both the second and third teams and 60 members on the fourth team. Anding was clearly snubbed by being listed on the fourth team after rushing for 2686 yards, totaling 30 touchdowns and carrying his team to a third straight Pacific League title. I will share more on my thoughts on this bizarre honor for Anding later in the week in my column, “Upon Further Review.”

Crucial Time for Local Boys’ Basketball Team

The Pacific League boys’ basketball league is as unpredictable as the weather in the Midwest this time of year. It is not a surprise that Muir, Pasadena and Crescenta Valley highs sit atop the standings all at 4-0; what is a surprise is that Glendale currently sits in the last guaranteed playoff spot in fourth place at 2-2 (7-9 overall) and that Burroughs and Burbank highs are a combined 0-8 in league play.

It is a top heavy league with the top three teams usually jockeying for supremacy, and this season appears to be more of the same, but Burbank had looked poised to take the fourth spot with Burroughs hoping to be improved enough to challenge for it too.

Indians coach Adam Hochberg has said that the key to his team’s season would be beating the second-tier Pacific League teams but his squad lost by ten to Hoover to open league play and has been outscored 244-138 in three games since against the league’s top three teams.

One has to wonder about the confidence level of a team that has lost seven straight and that is coming off a 3-24 season in 2010-2011. In fairness to the Indians (7-10 overall), injuries have ravaged their starting line-up and forced others to play a lot of minutes the first half of the season.

Burroughs hosts Arcadia this evening, the Apaches are 1-3 in league and 8-8 overall. The game is a defining moment in the Tribe’s season. A win gets them back on track and keeps them on pace with the middle of the pack in the league while a loss could put them three games back of a guaranteed playoff spot, four games under .500 and further from the wins needed for at-large consideration.

Burbank started league with a brutal stretch against the Falcons, Bulldogs and Mustangs. Even a transfer in Caine Brown Kennedy, listed at 6-6 and a junior from the Las Vegas area, could not spark Burbank. Brown appears to have all the tools to be a player, but he has been plagued by foul trouble since being deemed eligible to compete. The Bulldogs four-point loss to Glendale was a slight upset and dropped Burbank below .500 overall for the first time this season.

The Bulldogs face a critical stretch of games against Hoover, Arcadia and Burroughs. They could get back in the playoff chase in a hurry.

Sports Shorts: Pacific League Hoop-la, Net Worth

Pacific League Hoop-la

Burbank High boys’ basketball has a huge home game against the Crescenta Valley Falcons after falling it its opener to Pasadena, 59-48. The Bulldogs are 8-6 on the season against some tough teams, however, they cannot afford to start Pacific League play 0-2.

The Pacific League is certainly top heavy with Pasadena the clear front runner followed by a logjam of talented teams in Muir, Crescenta Valley and Burbank. Burroughs knows its best chance of a playoff spot is to stockpile wins against the next tier of teams;  Arcadia, Hoover and Glendale, which is why head coach Adam Hochberg was so frustrated by his team’s 51-41 loss to Hoover to open league play on January 2.

In addition to injuries to Jorge Flores-Pere and Ezekial Zuniga, the Indians loss Lawrence White to a hamstring injury in their last tournament.

Unfortunately the Indians (6-7) also have a murderous stretch of games starting with Pasadena tonight, January 6, followed by games at Crescenta Valley and Muir next week. Those three teams have a combined win-loss record of 32-8 and have seen better competition than the Indians.

The girls’ league race is slightly less predictable than the boys’. The Bulldogs are 7-7 on the season after beating Pasadena to open league play. They also play the Falcons this evening, who are 9-4 overall and coming off a win against Glendale.

Burroughs has a chance to start league play 2-0 after blasting Hoover, 71-20 to open league play. Aysia Shellmire scored an astounding 45 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while making a school record 19 field goals against the hapless Tornadoes.  Delaney Nicol added five points and seven assists,  Sidney Ortega six points and Bailee Trotta six as well.  Gabriella Pineiro4 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Net Worth

Mike Kodama is still looking for his first win in his return to coaching. Burroughs is 0-5-1 but hasn’t played since December 20. It host Pasadena in a match at Luther Burbank Middle School on January 6.

The Indians girls’ squad is 7-3-1 after opening league with a 1-0 win against Hoover.Brittany Mata scored a second half goal on an assist from Tatiana Rizzotti in the win.Tatiana Sanchez and Lilith Paparo-Preito combined for a shut out on goal with seven saves.

Burbank High boys’ soccer had not played in nearly a month after CIF Southern Section sanctions limited its preseason to just two contests. Showing some rust, the squad was shut out, 1-0, in a game against Pasadena earlier this week.

The Bulldogs girls’ team is 4-4-1 overall, but dropped its league opener, 4-2, to Pasadena.