Tag Archives: Burroughs High

Rick’s Sports Corner: Maddie Riggs, UC Irvine’s Rising Golf Star

By Rick Assad

Every day offers an opportunity to make choices. Most of the time they are fairly mundane like what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner or what to wear that day.

Sometimes they are more complicated and demand deeper thought because they are more important.

In the case of Maddie Riggs, she had to choose whether to play a sport she loved or switch to another upon entering college.

This was a real dilemma because Riggs was a gifted soccer player for four seasons at Burroughs High, leading the Indians in scoring and assists during her junior and senior years and was voted All-Area first-team both seasons.

“Maddie was tenacious as a soccer player,” said her father, Brady Riggs, who is the Burroughs girls’ soccer coach. “She was the consummate leader, always training at full speed, playing through injuries and demanding that level of commitment from her teammates.”

But Riggs also excelled on the Indians’ golf team across four seasons, earning All-Area first-team as a senior. For good measure, Riggs was a member of the softball squad as a freshman.

Maddie Riggs is entering her third season on the UC Irvine women’s golf team. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

So when Riggs, the Mike Torres Award winner which is given to the most outstanding two-sport female athlete at Burroughs, stepped foot onto the campus of the University of California Irvine, she had a weighty choice to make.

Riggs, who redshirted her freshman year, 2017-2018, opted to play golf and has flourished.

“In high school, soccer was my passion,” she said. “I had played soccer at a high level since I was eight years old and dedicated my entire life to the game.”

Riggs went on: “After I got a severe concussion my sophomore year I realized my soccer career would have to end eventually,” she said. “That was when I shifted my focus to college golf. I still love the beautiful game, but my future and my passion now is in golf.”

With the world on pause because of COVID-19, Riggs has been impacted.

“The safety of my family and I has been the priority so my time spent at golf has decreased dramatically,” she noted. “I have been putting on a mat in my room, hitting into a net in my backyard and working out consistently. Once courses opened a few weeks ago, I have practiced at the range, but haven’t played much golf. I’m trying to be as prepared as possible for the Western Amateur in Illinois at the end of July, which I will play in if it is safe to travel.”

Riggs, who tries to emulate the competitive attitude of Danielle Kang, a three-time winner on the LPGA tour including the Women’s PGA Championship in 2017, is entering her third season on the Anteaters’ team.

“I love golf because all the responsibility is on me. What attracts me most is I do not have to rely on teammates for success,” said Riggs, a Public Health Policy major who shot a career-best, 1-under par 71 at the Rebel Beach Tournament and finished a career-best, in which she tied for 10th place in the Gold Rush tourney hosted by Cal State Long Beach. “My success is determined by how much effort I put in, not how hard the rest of my team is working.”

Coincidentally, Maddie’s father, a PGA Top 100 Teacher, has also had a hand in her success at UCI.

A standout on the Burroughs High girls’ soccer team, Maddie Riggs is shown in a match versus Burbank. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

“My role is twofold,” he said. “First as her golf instructor teaching her all the technical aspects of the game and making adjustments to her mechanics as necessary.”

Riggs added: “That has now evolved into becoming her golf coach, supervising her practice sessions, helping her with strategy and learning the subtle nuances of playing on the highest level,” he said.

Riggs, a National Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar, said her father’s experience and guidance has been a blessing.

“Having my dad as a coach is special to me. We have always had a great father-daughter relationship in sports and to have a coach who knows my golf game and me as a person better than anyone is a huge advantage,” she said.

Golf is demanding and exacting, but Riggs has been able to come out ahead. “Golf is a tough sport to master because it is challenging both technically and mentally,” she said. “You can have great technique, but you have to learn how to score which takes experience during competitive rounds.”

Maddie Riggs talking with her father, Brady, the Burroughs’ soccer coach and a Top 100 PGA Teacher. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

How does Riggs, who took golf seriously at age 16, attack a hole?

“I am a conservative player and I base my decisions on percentages,” she said. “For example, each club has a specific dispersion, so I aim based on how wide my miss is instead of going directly at the flags.”

What’s the one thing that Riggs can lean on at the course?

“The best part of my game is my ability to trust my shot shape and commit to intelligent targets,” she said. “I play a fade, so the ball curves left to right and it is consistent with all my clubs.”

Riggs has been able to play well because she isn’t concerned with the other players.

“Chasing the leader adds pressure, but you cannot control how they are going to play so you have to focus on what you can control which is the next shot,” she said.

Riggs hasn’t played in front too often, but thinks that there’s pressure.

“I haven’t been in the lead very often, but I think it would be easier,” she explained. “As the leader, the tournament is yours to lose or win instead of coming from behind which requires other players to not play as well.”

Golf is a game of patience, which Riggs has. “One trait that makes me excel at golf is the mantra my dad has told me since I was little: “the only thing you can control is your effort and your attitude.” I apply this to all aspects of my life, but it is especially valuable in golf.”

Riggs continued: “I put all my effort into every round of golf regardless of if I am having a good day,” she said. “And it is even more important to have a good attitude on the course when you’re struggling. I never give up on a round and I think that mentality of grinding gives me a competitive edge in golf. I have to give soccer some credit because regardless of the score during a game, you never give up and that’s what I do in golf.”

Though lofty, Riggs in time would like to join the LPGA tour. “I believe that I can play on tour. I have only been playing highly competitive golf for a short amount of time and feel I have not reached my full potential yet,” she said. “I know that I have the work ethic and technical ability to play on tour. I just need more experience in competition.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Lauryn Bailey, Burroughs High’s Soccer Wizard, Survivor

By Rick Assad

Based on talent, overall skill and results, Lauryn Bailey is a veritable magician on the pitch.

In three seasons as a forward for the Burroughs High girls’ soccer team, the soon-to-be senior has scored an eye-popping 67 goals and handed out an incredible 31 assists.

Now that’s truly impressive, but there’s a backstory to her journey. “I’m the third of four girls in my family. My oldest sister [Taylor] has played soccer since she was four [she’s almost 23 ] so I grew up going to her games and wanted to be just like her,” Bailey said. “I love the footwork, the head-on challenges, watching a play we’ve practiced tirelessly unfold on the field, the feeling you get when you “get it in the net,” the sound of the crowd…I love it all.”

Lauryn Bailey (No. 21) is a generational talent according to Brady Riggs, the Burroughs High soccer coach. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Taylor Bailey was part sister and part inspiration, playing soccer four seasons at Burroughs and one at Pierce Junior College.

But there’s more to Bailey’s story.

“I grew up loving the game because of my sister so I naturally gravitated to it at a very young age,” she said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get started until late though, due to an illness. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Wilm’s Tumor at two and a half years old – yep, cancer of the kidney and it had moved to my lung too. No fun! Eight months of daily treatment and years of monitoring my progress before I was officially a survivor and released to play sports. So at the ripe age of eight, I was on my first team!”

Bailey continued: “I studied the game a lot,” she admitted. “I watch the pros play and I try to mimic their moves. I’ll see something in a game on TV and go outside and keep practicing until I get it. Kinda weird, but that’s just me. I’ve had some great coaches that have invested a lot of time in me, too. I’ve learned how to read the field very well and I do a pretty good job at setting myself up for plays, both offensively and defensively because of that.”

Burroughs, along with Arcadia and Crescenta Valley, are the three elite teams in the Pacific League.

Lauryn Bailey is a prolific goal scorer for the Indians. (Photo courtesy Lauryn Bailey)

In Bailey’s freshman season, the Indians went 15-3-3 and 9-1-2 in league as she contributed 18 goals with five assists and was named All-Area first-team.

As a sophomore and one of the captains, Burroughs fashioned a 16-4-2 mark and captured the league banner with a 12-1-1 record, something truly rare for the girls’ program, as Bailey knocked home 25 goals with 15 assists and was rewarded by being tabbed All-Area first-team and All-League first-team.

In her junior campaign, the Indians went 13-6-2 and 10-3-1 in league play with Bailey, again as one of the captains, tallying 24 goals and 11 assists which resulted in her being selected Co-Player of the Year, All-Area first-team and All-League first-team.

Brady Riggs, the Burroughs coach, realizes he has a treasure. “Lo [Lauryn] is a generational talent,” Riggs said. “There’s nothing she can’t do at an incredibly high level. The hardest skill in soccer is to score goals. Lo is a natural goal scorer. She can win games by herself. We won’t see another talent like her in a long time.”

There’s no stopping Lauryn Bailey on the pitch. (Photo courtesy Lauryn Bailey)

Bailey wished the school year wasn’t trimmed because of the worldwide pandemic.

“My junior year in general was good,” she said. “Disappointing that it was cut short due to COVID-19, but grateful my family and friends have all stayed safe and healthy.”

Bailey then added: “As for the season, we fell short. We knew early on we had some big shoes to fill as we had just lost some great players that played key positions,” she said. “We gained some good talent on our team, we just didn’t click and play as a team. That will be the focus as we prepare for next year, senior year!”

Bailey continued: “We’ve trained hard and have too much talent to let a repeat of last season take us out,” she noted. “Pacific League champs, CIF….I plan on going out with a bang and I know my fellow seniors feel the same way.”

Bailey did say COVID-19 has had some affect on the upcoming campaign. “The lack of opportunities to condition and stay in shape have definitely affected our abilities to bond and grow as a team,” she said.

In all three seasons, Bailey and her team have qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

The Indians lost in the second round during her first two seasons and in the opening round as a junior.

Bailey said that it’s extra special playing the more talented league teams. “There’s obviously more reward in playing the better teams and taking the “W” home against a stronger opponent, but the goal is get the win, regardless of how well or not so well the other team may be,” she said.

Fearless, Bailey prefers digging in and getting dirty. “Oh, hands down a physical match,” she said of the type of game she likes to play. “I love a good challenge. The harder they play, the harder I want to play. I love the energy and adrenaline rush a good match delivers. I get amped just thinking about it.”

What kind of mind-set does Bailey, who competed in track and field as a freshman and plays basketball for fun as well as the cardio benefit, have entering a match?

“In general, I’m pretty calm and even-tempered and that rarely changes in a game setting,” she said. “Some coaches knock me for the lack of emotion I exude, but that’s just me. Call it my game face, that’s just how I am. I try not to overthink it, stay out of my own head and just play the game I know how to play.”

Bailey is a team-first player, but also realizes that her presence on the pitch is essential if the Indians are to fare well.

“I hope it means the same for the team as it means for me,” she said. “Trust. Integrity. Talent. Leadership and excellence. At the end of the day, we’re a team. None of us are any good without all of us. Everyone has their role, their skill and we expect each other to bring that to each and every game. Sure, we get frustrated, might make a bad play or shoot off the post a time or two. We get annoyed and may be short tempered in the heat of it all, but if we keep our eyes on the prize and strive to work together, encourage, build strength not just around the game, but as women athletes, we’ve all won! I love this game, but I love this team just as much.”

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!”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Erick Hernandez, Burroughs Football Player, Turned Coach

Rick Assad

A path can lead in many different directions and sometimes it’s the correct one while other times it just doesn’t work out as well.

Former Burroughs High standout football player, Erick Hernandez, has taken a circuitous route to get to where he is today.

A wide receiver with glue-like hands, a precise pattern runner with deceptive foot speed who caught 80 career passes for over 1,200 yards and accounted for 24 overall touchdowns, Hernandez began his college career in 2016 in Loretto, Pennsylvania, where he played on scholarship for Saint Francis University.

After toiling until 2018 for the Red Flash, who are a member of the NCAA Division I AA Football Championship Subdivision, Hernandez transferred to Humboldt State University, where he played one season on scholarship. Coincidentally it was the last year that the school competed in football.

“I learned a ton in my college experience. I grew in every aspect,” said Hernandez, a three-year varsity starter for Burroughs who was named Offensive Most Valuable Player by the team as a senior in 2015 after hauling in 36 receptions for 532 yards with 13 scores and is now the wide receivers coach for the Indians.

Erick Hernandez (pictured in the middle) was a star wide receiver for the Indians and returned as a coach. (Photo courtesy Erick Hernandez)

“Some may not see my football career after high school as successful, and I don’t disagree,” he went on. “But everything I went through in college, as a player, has led me to who I am, and who I’m trying to be, as a coach.”

Hernandez, who was named All-Pacific League and All-Area twice and was selected the Hall of Fame All-Star Game West squad MVP, explained further: “I had to fall out of love with the game, to find my true love for it through a process of me falling out of love with the game, but with a new perspective through coaching,” he said. “I can easily say that I have nothing but love for football.”

Right now, with COVID-19 still wreaking havoc, getting ready for the upcoming football season has been put on hold.

“The virus has forced me to cancel all off-season workouts indefinitely,” he said. “I have been stuck at home since the order came out. Staying at home wasn’t so bad at first, but I am really hoping to get back out there with the [Burroughs] team for regularly scheduled summer football.”

Wide receivers coach, Erick Hernandez, leads Burroughs onto the field. (Photo courtesy Erick Hernandez)

Hernandez continued: “On the bright side, I have made some great connections with some of the best trainers and coaches in the country, mostly from the collegiate and NFL level,” he noted. “I think this chaotic time has brought a lot of coaches together and created some great opportunities to learn from each other that otherwise would have never existed. Years from now, I think I will look back on this time and see how pivotal it really was for me because in the midst of chaos, I found opportunity.”

Hernandez is grateful to former Burroughs coach Rand Holdren, who stepped down after his second season.

“Working at Burroughs has been great. Things are a lot different than when I was playing there,” he said. “Coach [Holdren] gave me my first opportunity as a coach and I was happy it was Burroughs,” he said. “Burroughs has a special place in my heart and always will. I have a lot of great memories there and this past year I made even more. It has definitely been an experience being the youngest guy in the office and only four years older than most of the kids, but I feel like I fit in.”

An excellent student in high school and college, playing football at the next level proved difficult at times.

“I can’t say I truly enjoyed my college experience,” said Hernandez, who helped lead the Indians to the CIF Southern Section playoffs twice, losing in the first round as a sophomore and the second round as a senior. “I am definitely grateful for it, but I don’t think I took full advantage of it.”

Does Hernandez have any regrets? “I think there were definitely points where I wish I had done things differently, but looking back now, I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “I honestly believe everything I went through as a player has set me up to be a great coach. The successes and failures and everything in between has given me a great perspective as a person and as a coach.”

Hernandez acknowledged the difference between playing high school and college football.

“It’s much harder than high school, especially at that high of a level, so it is easy to get lost in the shuffle,” he said. “There are definitely more reasons, but at the end of the day, I put the blame on myself and take responsibility for my successes and failures alike.”

Though Hernandez was hoping to accomplish more at the college level, it’s not as though he and the team didn’t shine.

“It would have to be winning the [Northeast] conference title and getting a ring my freshman year of college,” Hernandez said of his career highlight. “That was the first time in school history that the football team won a Division I AA conference championship.”

Hernandez said some words of wisdom during his last year playing college football has been the most helpful.

“Some advice that I got from Humboldt State wide receivers coach, Josh Irvin, was “remember why you started” and that sticks out to me till this day,” he said. “I think a lot of us lose sight of why we start something in the first place and that’s why we fail sometimes.”

Hernandez then added: “And sometimes we start things for the wrong reasons, so looking back and remembering why we decided to start something in the first place gives us perspective and can either give us a sign to keep going or move on,” he said.

Though young, Hernandez is well on his way in his chosen field. “My short term goal is that I want to get into coaching as soon as I finish my Business Marketing degree at CSUN,” he said. “Long term, I think I could be happy as a position coach at the college level, but I believe I am capable of much more; so I do plan to reach my full potential and if it leads me to a coordinator or head coaching job, then I would fully embrace that.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Marin Grote, Blossoming In Seattle

By Rick Assad

Two years removed from starring in basketball and volleyball at Burroughs High, Marin Grote has made a smooth adjustment to the next level.

Grote is flourishing academically while on the volleyball court is being used primarily off the bench for the University of Washington women’s team.

When a point is demanded and the team is on the ropes, Grote is often the spark the highly-ranked Huskies look to.

“College volleyball is more than I expected,” she admitted. “I don’t think anyone can be fully prepared for what college volleyball is and that’s a good thing because it makes learning the next level of volleyball – college ball, that much more fun and challenging.”

Onetime Burroughs High star, Marin Grote, is playing for the University of Washington. (Photo courtesy Marin Grote)

In Grote’s initial season in Seattle, the Huskies went 20-13 and lost to Penn State in the NCAA Sweet 16.

As a freshman, Grote played in 15 matches, 34 sets and started four matches in Pacific 12 Conference action.

As a sophomore, Grote, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker, saw the University of Washington forge a 27-7 record and fall to No. 1 seed Baylor in the Elite Eight.

In Grote’s second campaign, the former three-time Pacific League volleyball Most Valuable Player and All-CIF first-team pick, played in 18 matches and 27 sets and contributed 20 kills.

Grote said there is a fairly wide gap between high school and college volleyball.

Marin Grote is the Huskies’ go-to point-producer off the bench. (Photo courtesy Marin Grote)

“The biggest difference between high school and college would be the level of play and time commitment,” she noted. “Being at a Top 10 ranked Division I university, there isn’t much time for a whole lot besides volleyball and school work. On top of the time commitment, you are competing amongst the best in the country and you always have to be on your “A” game.”

How excited was Grote to step foot onto the court the first time?

“My first match was a whirlwind,” she said. “Coach called me off the bench and subbed me in to hit a slide after losing five points in a row. I subbed in, was told to hit a slide (my specialty) and I did just that.”

Grote went on: “Looking back to that moment, I had no thoughts and my mind went blank,” she said. “The serve came over the net, I ran as fast as I could down my route and hit the slide down the line for a kill off the libero. And that was it! The gym exploded and my team surrounded me with cheers. It was a very exciting moment. And then I was subbed back out.”

The women’s volleyball season is in the fall and wasn’t affected by COVID-19, but who knows how long the stay-at-home order will last?

Grote said the pandemic has bit into the Huskies’ winter training block and spring training.

Marin Grote having some fun. (Photo courtesy Marin Grote)

What was Grote’s first full match like?

“It was the first away game of the season. We were playing at Oregon State University. One of the starting middles went down with a sprained ankle early in the first set and I was in the thick of it,” she said. “Being a freshman who had no college experience, I had no idea what I was doing. But, I went in and did my job the best I could and we managed to pull out a five-set victory after losing the first two sets.”

Grote continued with her thought: “I was just happy we pulled it off because if we had lost, it would of been easy to say it was because we didn’t have the right middle in and I was not okay with that being an excuse for why we lost,” she said. “After the match Coach Keegan [Cook] gave me a high five and a “you did good kid” sort of comment and I was happy. We played like a team the last three sets and that was my first time realizing that college volleyball is just so much more than volleyball.”

A match in Southern California will always be special for Grote.

“My freshman year when we walked onto the floor of USC for practice the day before the game, it all hit me,” she said. “I had made it. Growing up, my Park and Recreation volleyball team, Firestorm, always made it to at least one USC volleyball match and it was the highlight of our season.”

Grote added: “Getting our T-shirts and balls signed after the game and taking pictures was just the coolest thing,” she said. “And then to play on that same court and sign T-shirts and balls was bewildering. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, you really did it. You are playing at USC,” and it was a very cool moment to experience.”

Marin Grote (No. 12) joins hands with her Husky teammates. (Photo courtesy Marin Grote).

Grote’s teammates have her back, which makes playing volleyball even more fun.

“All of my teammates are my best friends,” she noted. “We all live within a block of each other off campus and are always at each others houses doing homework, cooking or just hanging out.”

Grote believes this has had a positive affect.

“The team chemistry is unmatched and I wouldn’t trade these girls for the world,” she said. “Being able to come home after a tough practice and just goof off with these girls is one of my favorite things. Each one of them is supportive of you and is there to help you out. Especially positionally – there is a lot of potential for rivalries between starters and nonstarters and there is none of that on the team. Everyone supports everyone.”

After years of playing volleyball, does Grote have the same enthusiasm for the sport?

“Of course I’m still having fun in the game!” she said. “I am excited to go to practice every day because I have a blast playing volleyball and bettering my game. Working hard in practice is something I look forward to when I wake up every morning, which sounds cheesy, I know, but the Washington Way is to be a part of something greater than yourself and the Husky volleyball team is how I contribute to the Washington Way.”

Grote continued: “My team is a special group of girls and being around them is the best part of my day, so playing with them in practice is even better,” she said.

After being in the Great Northwest for two years, Grote knows that her college selection was on the money.

“I made the right choice with the University of Washington,” she said. “The school and team is everything I wanted from my college experience and I can’t wait for the next two years.”

Burroughs Girls Hoops Can’t Keep Pace With Westchester

By Rick Assad

For 16 minutes, the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team kept in touch with Westchester.

The same couldn’t be said across the second half as the Comets pulled away from the Indians 59-48 in the opening round of the CIF State Southern California Regional Division III playoffs on Tuesday night at the Indians gym before a lively crowd.

Faith Boulanger accounted for a game-high 18 points and a game-best 14 rebounds against the Comets. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The game is about turnovers. Too many turnovers. We can’t win when we have them,” Burroughs coach Vicky Oganyan said of the 26 miscues.

Oganyan said she tried to make a few adjustments in the second half.

“We just talked how we were down one [at the half] and we had turned the ball all over the place,” she said. “We just talked about trying to calm down and make better passes and trying to get into our offense. Defensively we were hanging in there. I thought we missed some shots at critical points, wide-open layups.”

Junior power forward/center Faith Boulanger had a solid outing, scoring a game-best 18 points with a game-high 14 rebounds for the Indians, who placed second in the Pacific League and also advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division II-A semifinals.

“I’m proud of the way we improved from summer until now,” Oganyan said. “We made some big strides and we’re proud of that. For this group, I guess I’m not satisfied. We have room to improve. Hopefully in the offseason we have the same mindset. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but not satisfied.”

Sophie Hawkins, who scored three points, dribbling the ball against Westchester. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Boulanger, who fouled out with 4:50 remaining in the contest, scored nine points in the first half after drilling three from three-point range.

Junior power forward Kayla Wrobel added 13 points and collected nine caroms.

Wrobel’s bucket with 2:07 left in the first quarter gave the Indians, the No. 2 seeded team in this tourney, a 9-6 lead as No. 15 seeded Westchester, which owns a seven-game winning streak and will play Viewpoint in the second round on Thursday, asked for time out.

Burroughs (25-8) trailed 25-24 at the intermission, but the Comets, who led 10-9 after the first period, dropped in 17 points in the third quarter for a 42-34 lead as freshman shooting guard Ron’Yae Jackson (eight points) nailed a pair of three-pointers.

Another 17-point frame followed for Westchester (17-15), which claimed the City Section Division I title after trouncing Carson 67-38.

Faith Boulanger, who made three from three-point range, is about to take a trey versus Westchester. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In that frame, freshman point guard Rylie Waugh accounted for eight points including six coming at the free-throw line.

“It has to be multiple people doing multiple things,” Westchester coach Dominic Grimes said of the overall effort. “I told them to keep attacking the bigs. I was hoping they’d get in foul trouble and they did.”

In that final period, the Comets, who played six of the top 15 girls’ teams in the state, canned nine of 10 free throws after making one of five in the opening half.

Waugh, who picked off a team-best 13 rebounds, paced the Comets with 16 points, including 12 in the second half.

Westchester senior center Ariana Grimes, who contributed five caroms and four steals, tossed in seven of her 13 points in the first half.

Dyani Del Castillo poured in six points for the Indians. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Sophomore point guard Savannah Prasad added 10 points, all of which came in the second quarter.

Prasad’s second three-pointer with five minutes left on the clock handed the  Comets a 20-14 edge.

The Indians connected on nine of 20 shots in the first half for 45 percent, but then dipped to 25 percent in the second half after making seven of 28.

The Comets converted 34.3 percent of their shots (22 of 64) on the evening, and made 42.3 percent (11 of 26) in the second half.

Junior shooting guard Dyani Del Castillo scored six points and snared eight rebounds for the Indians while sophomore shooting guard Noor Fahs tallied six points.

Senior shooting guard Sophie Hawkins tacked on a three-pointer for the Indians and freshman power forward Isabella Roderick added two points.

Doug Nicol Back As Burroughs Softball Coach

By Rick Assad

Maybe some things are just meant to be and that includes Doug Nicol being named the Burroughs High softball coach after Wes Tanigawa resigned the position.

This will be Nicol’s second stint as the Indians’ softball coach after serving seven successful seasons in the same capacity.

“I got a few phone calls to see if I was interested in coming back,” said Nicol, who graduated from Burroughs in 1982. “I told them to give me a few days so that I can think about it for a day or two.”

Nicol went on: “I spoke to my wife and my son and daughter and they both said that I should take it.”

Doug Nicol has returned to coach the Burroughs softball team. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Nicol said he was fully convinced when he went to a recent scrimmage and liked what he saw.

“This is a really good group of kids,” he said. “It sparked my interest.”

After coaching the Indians from 2010 until 2016, Nicol said he wanted to be there and support his children in their sporting and collegiate educational endeavors.

Nicol, who guided the Indians to four Pacific League titles that included a CIF Southern Section semifinal appearance in 2016 and a quarterfinal showing in 2015, stepped down in order to spend more time with his family.

But now that his daughter and son are older, he believed, with their encouragement along with his wife, the time was right to return.

“Three weeks ago I wasn’t looking to coach,” he said. “There was no clue that I would, so this is a total shock. But I’m glad. I love Burroughs.”

Nicol, who teaches at Muir Middle School in Burbank and has been a longtime travel ball coach, added: “I’ve been around them [the team] about a week and a half and they’re incredible,” he said.

Nicol’s immediate goal is to instill self-esteem and worth in being on the softball team. “I want to build a culture and have pride,” he said. “It takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The overwhelming favorite to capture the league banner is perennial power Crescenta Valley, which is led by All-CIF Southern Section pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez.

“There’s no doubt that CV is the team to beat,” Nicol said. “They won the CIF title last year and they’re going to be good this year. I think Arcadia, Burroughs and Burbank will be right there.”

Burroughs has played four nonleague games this season, losing to Camarillo 7-0, defeating host Golden Valley 13-0, falling to Notre Dame 4-0 and beating West Ranch 10-2.

The Indians commence league action on March 3 versus Glendale and will travel to Burbank on March 19 and then host the Bulldogs on April 30.

Burroughs Girls Water Polo Sinks Diamond Bar 11-7 In CIF Second Round

By Rick Assad

One had a real sense that late in the second quarter, slowly but surely, the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team seized control of the match.

After being tied at 3-3 with 2:44 left, the Indians scored the next two goals and never looked back in their 11-7 win over visiting Diamond Bar in a CIF Southern Section Division V second-round playoff match on Thursday afternoon.

Emanuella Nathan was stellar in goal for the Indians. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We played pretty good. It got a little crazy there at the end with that back and forth,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “They played great. They were putting the shots in. It was pretty evenly scored. We made the adjustments on defense after the first quarter.”

Sophomore Nancy Callahan led the way with a match-high four goals for the Indians.

Callahan knocked in a 14-foot tally with 5:08 left in the second period for a 3-2 lead and then added a 12-foot goal with two seconds remaining in the opening half for a 6-4 advantage.

When Callahan found the back of the net on a 14-footer with 59 seconds left in the third period, the Indians (20-7) pulled ahead 9-5. Callahan’s 15-foot goal with 6:28 showing in the fourth quarter saw the lead swell to 10-5.

Junior Angelina Lee added three goals for the Indians and they came with 4:01 left in the initial period on a 12-foot loft that tied it at 1-1 and with 3:35 left on the clock in the same frame on a 12-footer that evened it at 2-2.

Angelina Lee knocked in three goals for Burroughs, which beat Diamond Bar, 11-7 in a CIF second-round match. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Lee’s 12-foot tally with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter pushed the Indians ahead 8-4.

Freshman Nancy Baylor’s eight-footer with 2:29 left in the second quarter made it 4-3 and Baylor’s 12-foot toss with 2:57 left in the fourth period made it 11-5.

A 12-foot strike from sophomore Clarisa Robles with 1:03 left gave the Indians a 5-3 cushion.

When junior Charlotte Jennings found the back of the cage on a 12-footer and 4:52 left in the third period, the Indians scooted ahead 7-4.

Kaitlyn Arauz scored three goals to pace Diamond Bar and they included a 10-footer with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter as the Brahmas (21-8) led 1-0.

A 10-foot tally by Arauz with 13 seconds left in the second frame cut the lead to 5-4 and an eight-foot goal from Arauz sliced lead to 11-7 as 2:08 remained in the match.

The Indians used a four-goal second quarter to lead 6-4 at the half. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We had a lot of good looks. Whether it was open looks or in the half court or transition or six on five, we had the opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish,” Diamond Bar coach Devin Hunter said.

Julia Longoria tacked on an eight-footer with 2:44 left in the second quarter that evened it at 3-3.

Longoria’s 12-footer with 2:17 on the ticker in the third quarter cut the lead to 8-5.

A tally from point-blank range by Kaylee Robles handed the Brahmas a 2-1 lead as 3:46 remained in the first quarter.

Raquel Figueroa’s 10-foot goal with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter sliced the Burroughs lead to 11-6.

Burroughs senior goalie Emanuella Nathan, who will be playing for the University of the Pacific, had a brilliant outing, batting away more than a dozen shots, including a five-meter penalty shot by Arauz with 5:24 left in the third quarter.

Burroughs Boys Soccer End Season With 4-1 Loss To Montebello In CIF First Round

By Rick Assad

Facing a superb defensive team, the Burroughs High boys’ soccer team had to find some room in order to get off shots.

Montebello wouldn’t allow much space and dominated the action from the outset on Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Field in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round playoff match.

Manny Gonzalez, Burroughs’ top scorer, tried his best but could not lead the Indians to a win. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Oilers scored two first-half goals and then tacked on two more while the Indians managed just one tally and lost 4-1 before a supportive crowd.

Burroughs’ lone score came in the 52nd minute when junior forward Elias Galaviz knocked in a penalty kick from inside the box after a hand-ball violation that trimmed Montebello’s advantage to 3-1.

Not to be overlooked are the 10 seniors on the Burroughs squad and they are midfielder Dylan Mahoney, defender Manny Pascual, midfielder Elijah DuMonde, midfielder Juan Carlos Rosales, defender Abihud Munoz, midfielder Colgan Martin, defender Carter Wells, who was injured for much of the season with a torn ACL, midfielder Kobe Estrada, forward David Gerlach and goalie Hyatt Entz.

“Every day is a new challenge and you always have to work hard every single day and keep growing as a team and I have to keep growing as a coach,” Burroughs coach Mitchell Komada said.

Senior midfielder Elijah DuMonde uses his head to control the ball in a CIF opening-round match against Montebello. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

These players helped the Indians place second in the Pacific League this season and first last year.

“They shot that attack very well and made it very difficult for us to find our rhythm and to find space for ourselves,” said Komada, who took over for his father, Mike, midway through the season.

Beside Montebello’s defensive stickiness, it was also marvelous at being on defense and then transitioning to offense.

The Oilers (17-5-5 and 8-2 for a three-way first-place tie in the Almont League) scored their initial goal in the 13th minute on a corner kick from junior midfielder Luis Estrada that somehow deflected off sophomore defender Wilson Harting’s foot and into the net.

Two minutes later on a set piece, Montebello stretched its lead to 2-0 on a 15-yard laser from senior forward Edgar Alegria.

Senior midfielder Juan Carlos Rosales moves the ball past Montebello’s Jose Gonzalez. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Never just stop giving up and keep on playing,” said Alegria, Montebello’s leading scorer with 10 goals. “It was just communicating. Moving it around. We all played amazing.”

The Oilers seized control 3-1 when junior midfielder Cesar Monsivais drilled a 15-yarder off a free kick in the 49th minute.

Montebello made it a three-goal differential in the 56th minute when senior midfielder Abraham Ramirez scored on a 10-yard laser after a wonderful assist from senior midfielder Vincent Mendez.

“We apply pressure. I think when you apply pressure to a team, they have to think quick and they lose it sometimes and then we want to attack,” said Montebello coach Jesus Garcia, who has led the Oilers to 11 league titles in 15 seasons. “Once we get that first one, it’s a totally different mindset.”

In the sixth minute, Monsivais’ 30-yarder sailed over the crossbar and a 35-yarder by Monsivais in the 12th minute was off.

Manny Gonzalez was blanketed all afternoon by the Oilers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A minute later, a 25-yarder from Alegria missed and Mendez’s 35-yard direct kick a minute later also failed.

Junior forward Manny Gonzalez’s penalty kick was off in the 17th minute for the Indians (12-8-3 and 10-2-2 in league).

Gonzalez is Burroughs’ top goal scorer, but on this day was bottled up and couldn’t get off high-percentage shots.

Sophomore fullback Chris Amador’s 20-yarder in the 17th minute hit the right post and Ramirez’s 25-yarder in the 18th minute failed.

Gonzalez then added a 28-yard penalty kick in the 23rd minute, but it was wide right.

A 15-yard header in the 26th minute by Alegria was nullified after an offside call and Alegria’s 15-yard header in the 31st minute just missed the goal.

A direct kick from Rosales in the 38th minute didn’t find the target and a 25-yard from Monsivais in extra time also missed.

Mendez’s 26-yard free kick in the 45th minute was off and Gonzalez’s 35-yard free kick in the 47th minute didn’t find the back of the net.

Sophomore forward Edgar Lopez’s 20-yarder in the 48th minute didn’t locate the target for the Oilers and Galaviz’s 24-yard direct kick in the 52nd minute missed.

Alegria’s 30-yarder in the 59th minute failed, five minutes later Alegria’s 15-yarder was too high and Estrada’s 25-yard free kick in the 68th minute was off.

In the 76th minute, a 30-yarder from Rosales failed and Gonzalez’s 38-yarder in extra time was also off.

Burroughs jJunior goalie Jacob Cardenas was at times under siege while junior Mark Gamez had it much easier.

Burbank Boys Basketball Hangs On For 46-42 Win Versus Burroughs

By Rick Assad

Ebbs and flows are a small part of basketball and it is just one aspect of the game that makes it so exciting.

In Thursday night’s Pacific League boys’ finale between Burroughs High and visiting Burbank, this was evident from the outset.

Kevin Sarkes scored eight points for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Trailing after the first quarter by three, the Bulldogs forged ahead by 12 points at the half, fell behind by one point heading to the fourth quarter and then rallied for a thrilling 46-42 victory.

In that final period, Burbank (9-18 and 5-9 in league) hammered in only four of 14 shots from the field and made two of three from the free-throw line.

But it was on the defensive end that Burbank shined, limiting the Indians, who are tied for third place in league with Muir, to one of seven from the floor and six points.

The Indians will qualify for the CIF Southern Section postseason and the pairings will be announced this weekend.

Burbank junior point guard Vartan Avetisyan poured in five of his co-game best 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Corwin Smith had 16 points to lead the Indians. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior center Kevin Sarkes tossed in four of his eight points in the fourth period.

“It’s my last game as a senior,” Sarkes said. “We have to come out and win it today. They beat us at our house. It was time for us to beat them at their house.”

Sarkes added: “In the first half, the offense was good and the defense was good,” he offered. “I feel like we picked it up defensively in the fourth quarter. We got stops. We got deflections, steals. We got big plays. It was great.”

Sarkes was asked if beating Burroughs is extra sweet. “Definitely,” he said of the triumph over city rival. “You have a bigger crowd. The gym is loud. You have to take it up another level, another notch.”

The Indians (19-9 and 7-7 in league) leaped ahead 10-7 heading into the second quarter as senior shooting guard Carson Cardenaz, who scored 11 points, tallied a hoop and a three-pointer.

After scoring two points in the first frame, center Corwin Smith added a bucket and a free throw in the second quarter for the Indians, who converted 17 of 54 for 31.4 percent on the night.

Swarming defense was one key to Burbank’s 46-42 win over Burroughs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burroughs shot 25 percent from the field in the opening half after making eight of 32.

Burbank converted on 41.3 percent of its shots (12 of 29) and dashed ahead 31-19 at the break.

Smith dropped in five points in the third quarter and senior forward Emery Goulet tacked on six of his eight points.

Smith was the only Burroughs player to score in the fourth frame after tallying six points.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs, who drilled 18 of 53 for 33.9 percent, managed only four points with sophomore point guard Phoenix Mosley scoring two and Avetisyan also dropping in two and fell behind 36-35.

Junior shooting guard Elmer Reyes scored two points in the third quarter after dropping in eight at the intermission that included a pair of three pointers in the second quarter and finished with 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Junior small forward/shooting guard Kelton Shea contributed four points for Burbank, which outrebounded Burroughs, 42-34.

Guard Blake Ballard knocked in seven points that included a three-pointer in the first quarter for the Indians.