Girls soccer struggle to find footing

Girls soccer struggle to find footing

The Sierra Canyon girls soccer team is adjusting to the rugged Mission League but can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Trailblazers are 1-6-1 during league play but still have three matches to right the ship for a possible playoff berth.

“It’s been a rough go,” Sierra Canyon coach Will Beard said. “However, we are competing hard and figuring some things out. Injuries have hurt us from the start of the year.”

Some bright spots for the Trailblazers are Olivia Theodortos and freshman Maya Charuvastra.

Theodoratos is the team’s leading goal scorer and Charuvastra has surprised at midfield.

“It’s been tough trying to replace 30 goals from last year and being in a very tough league for the first year,” Beard said.

Sierra Canyon owns a win against Flintridge-Sacred Heart and tied Marymount. The Trailblazers also won a tournament back in December up in Bakersfield (Garces Memorial HS).

There is still optimism late in the season because the final three matches come against Marymount, Notre Dame and FSHA. The Trailblazers now they can end the season on a high note with a few more victories.

“Like anything tough in life, we had to adjust to this new league with adversity,” Beard said. “The second half of league play has shown some improvement and we have a few more matches to keep that going.”

Soccer team on the rebound

Things are looking up and getting better for the Sierra Canyon boys soccer team.

After a rough start in a brand new league, the Trailblazers have found some solid footing as of late are in contention for a playoff berth.

Leading the way has been Constantine Theodoratos, who had a hat trick in a 5-3 victory against Notre Dame this week.

Another player who has come on and taken a key role is J.T. Nichols. Primarily a Lacrosse player, Nichols has emerged a key player.

“J.T. brings a solid approach, great energy and enthusiasm,” Sierra Canyon coach Chris Bonawandt said. “He has been forced into a big role because of injuries and has played the part well for us.”

Armand Sahi is doing well as goalkeeper. Sahi and Ben Eisner are helping keep Sierra Canyon competitive in one of the best leagues in California.

“They have both made saves to keep us in games,” Bonawandt said.

Sierra Canyon is making great progress and strides. The Trailblazers dropped matches to Notre Dame and St. Francis earlier in the year both by scores of 2-1.

The Trailblazers have avenged those defeats with victories the second time around and have knocked off Alemany.

Sierra Canyon ends the regular season with matches at Crespi this Friday and at Alemany on Monday before hosting Chaminade next week on Wednesday.

“We have a real shot earn a playoff berth and that is our only goal for the next 10 days,” Bonawandt said.

Basketball looks to get going

The Sierra Canyon boys basketball team has been playing better of late and is poised to make another deep run in the Open Division playoffs.

The Trailblazers have knocked off Christ the King of New York and Wheeler of Georgia in recent weeks before rattling off four consecutive Mission League victories.

Sierra Canyon knocked off Chaminade, Loyola, Crespi and St. Francis.

That streak came to an end last week with a humbling 72-52 setback against Harvard-Westlake. However, the Trailblazers were missing key starters Bronny James and Isaiah Elohim, both out nursing minor injuries.

Sierra Canyon has a huge game coming up Friday against Notre Dame at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. The game will likely decide No. 2 in the league and give the winner the coveted double bye for the league tournament next week.

“We are still learning and figuring each other out,” Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said. “We have been playing better and better. Our defense is great. We want to get better offensively.”

The individual talent on the team is undeniable. James, Jimmy Oladokun, Ashton Hardaway, Dylan Metoyer and Osisris Nalls are key seniors. Elohim, Noah Wiliams, Justin Pippen and Majok Chuol are talented juniors. Bryce Cofield has shown great promise in his sophomore year.

Sierra Canyon has had a remarkable run since 2016. Five Southern Section championship game appearances in seven years, three Open Division state championship appearances and three SoCal regional championships from 2018-2020.

The Trailblazers are expected to be in the Open Division again facing Harvard-Westlake, Corona Centennial, Bishop Montgomery, West Ranch, St. John Bosco and others.


Baseball ready to get going

Baseball ready to get going

The Sierra Canyon baseball team is preparing for the 2023 season and has a core of veteran returners to lean on.

Despite losing one of the deepest pitching staffs in school history, the Trailblazers are hoping experienced hitters and young pitching will be the recipe for success.

Gone are Jaden Noot, Kassius Thomas, Max Martin and Eddie Mgdesyan. Noot is at LSU, Thomas at Duke and Martin at UC Irvine. Noot was selected in the 31st round by the Brewers but has opted for college.

Agoura transfer Luke Casares is a 6-foot-5 hurler and Kaden Ceramek is a talented sophomore expected to contribute. Casafes will serve a sit out period and miss the first few weeks. Ethan Montez i sa sophomore pitcher and third baseman.

The bullpen is deep with Jesse Hagopian and Jess Tarnol. Hagopian can pound the zone.

Leading the hitting corp will be Oregon-bound first baseman/outfielder Kehden Hettiger, shortstop Omar Cisneros, and Grant Wedesheim.

Hettiger is the best pro prospect of the bunch, Cisneros and Werdesheim will hit at the top of the lineup. Werdesheim was headed to Brown but now is looking at Davidson. Cisneros could be headed to Hawaii-Hilo.

More youngsters include Braden Hewitt, a sophomore second baseman and junior Julian Areliz, who is committed to Cal. Areliz is nursing a rotator cuff injury and could be out as the season gets going.

The primary catcher will be Ethan Munoz, who hopes to play college baseball.

Darren Yoon and Jake Levin are both senior outfielders expected to provide quality depth off the bench.

The two best freshmen are Braden Charness abd Armando Solorio, who has a very nice 3-pitch mix.

Sierra Canyon is up against it this year moving into the ultra-competitive Mission League. Playing three games in a week will be very challenging. The question always becomes will there be enough pitching depth.

Harvard-Westlake and Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) are quality, top-notch programs.


Softball gets ready for big season

Softball gets ready for big season

The Sierra Canyon softball program is looking forward to an exciting 2023 season.

The team is loaded with talented returners and hopes to make a long playoff run in Division 3. Two years ago, the Trailblazers advanced to the quarterfinals and last year was the victim of an upset setback in the first round.

Sierra Canyon is ready to erase that memory behind a trio of outstanding pitchers.

The leader in the circle is Hailey Shuler, a junior right-hander who is committed to Duke. Madelaine Debs is headed to Bethel Univ. in Kansas and will get plenty of innings.

Ava Debs is a junior and will be a viable third option before taking the reins in 2024 at the primary pitcher.

“We have a deep and talented staff,” Sierra Canyon coach Regina Jorgensen said. “All three girls are throwing extremely hard. Our pitching is a strength and key component to our team.”

Liana Lara will start at catcher and primed with the task of corralling these three hurlers. Lara is a junior.

Another catcher learning and coming into her own is freshman Sophia Sarni.

The lineup will be led by Shuler, Central Florida-commit Izzy Mertes and Columbia-bound center fielder Olivia Makins.

All three girls can hit for power, average, and drive in runs.

Jorgensen is also excited about the addition of a few newcomers.

Peyton Jackson joins the team from Marymount in Los Angeles and Nina Johsnon is a sophomore transfer from Birmingham. Johnson will play the corner infield positions.

The top freshman is Natalia Arleiz, a top second baseman.

The schedule includes an exciting trip to Hawaii Feb. 18-20 and nonleague contests with Chatsworth, Burbank, Burroughs, Heritage Christian and Rio Mesa.

The Trailblazers also move into the Mission League and will battle the likes of Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), Chaminade, Alemany and Louisville.

“We are definitely in a better league and looking forward to really competitive games,” Jorgensen said.

Girls basketball- #1 in the Nation & 3.9 Overall GPA!

Girls basketball- #1 in the Nation & 3.9 Overall GPA!

The Sierra Canyon girls basketball team doesn’t just excel on the court. It’s pretty darn good in the classroom, too.

Not only are the Trailblazers 21-0 overall this year, the team has an average 3.9 GPA.

Practically straight A’s winning games and doing school work.

“We have an amazing group of girls,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Kreutner said. “They really understand what it takes to excel both academically and athletically. It’s a great balance.”

Natasha Bay, Laila Bowens, Leia Edwards, Kayla Malek and Sofia Ruelas all are over a 4.3 GPA and three of them are over 4.5

JuJu Watkins, the No. 1 player in the country, is headed to USC. Crystal Wang is headed to Northwestern. Past standouts have been admitted to Duke, Washington, UCLA, Princeton, Brown and the list goes on and on. Those schools just don’t admit students based solely on athletic superiority. You have to qualify academically first and foremost.

It’s safe to say the team doesn’t need much oversight to complete homework, assignments and do well on tests and quizzes.

“In the past we would do study halls and have dedicated time to working on school work,” Kreutner said. “It’s weird to say, but we don’t really need to do that anymore. The girls are studying in the airport, taking care of business wherever and whenever they need to. They study in their hotel rooms and at meals, sometimes.”

There could be a misconception out there that with all the traveling and games the team plays out of state, that academics are not at the forefront. That is the furthest thing from the truth, according to Kreutner.

“We now have teachers on the trips to help out and they see we are not just out here playing games and having fun, all the time. Our games out of state are real games with top competition. It’s all business and then fun. And the girls know school work comes first. They prepare before we even leave. They get things done ahead of time, email teachers to set things up and complete work and assignments ahead of schedule.”

Sierra Canyon girls basketball has a culture that preaches excellence in all facets. The classroom comes first and the basketball court is right behind it.

“The girls know they have to deal with me if there are any issues in the classroom and they don’t want that,” Kreutner said. “So, they handle their business and don’t let things get to a level that is below our standard.  We preach accountability.”

Boys basketball trending in right direction

The Sierra Canyon boys basketball team is trending in the right direction.

After a shaky start to the season, the Trailblazers have found some solid footing as they try to make another Open Division championship run.

Bronny James scored 22 points on 8-14 shooting and grabbed five rebounds to lead Sierra Canyon to an impressive 66-55 come from behind victory against Wheeler of Georgia on Saturday night at USC’s Galen Center.

“Bronny was great tonight,” Sierra Canyon head coach Andre Chevalier said. “Bronny has been a great senior leader this year.”

Ashton Hardaway scored 18 points and five-star junior wing Isaiah Elohim added 10 points for Sierra Canyon, which trailed 16-6 after one quarter. The 21-point turnaround was a season best for the Trailblazers.

“Just very proud of the boys for the way they fought through and never gave up,” Chevalier said. “We battled back as a team and made the plays we needed to down the stretch.”

A key sequence came with just under two minutes remaining. The game was tied 53-53 and Hardaway drilled a 3-pointer. James came up with a steal and layup for a five-point advantage.

Sierra Canyon dug itself a 10-point hole in the first quarter before trailing 29-21 at halftime. The Trailblazers settled in trying to slow down Isaiah Collier and Arrinten Page, both headed to USC.

The tide turned in the third quarter. The Trailblazers chipped into the lead. Hardaway scored 11 points in the quarter.

Sierra Canyon finally went ahead 48-47 with 5:20 remaining tanks to a pair of Osiris Nalls free throws. The Trailblazers surged ahead 53-49 on a nice putback by Noah Williams before Wheeler tied it up, setting up Hardway and James.

Chevalier earned his 393rd victory and Sierra Canyon now turns its attention to Loyola and Crespi this week before an MLK, Jr. day game against Columbus of Florida in Massachusetts.

Trailblazers can’t be stopped

The Sierra Canyon girls basketball team cannot be stopped.

The Trailblazers passed one of its biggest tests Saturday after an impressive 64-55 intersectional nonleague victory against La Jolla Country Day at USC’s Galen Center.

JuJu Watkins was nothing short of sensational, tallying 30 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.

Playing on her future home floor, Watkins wowed the crowd with her speed, strength and finesse. Watkins made shots, grabbed rebounds and set up her teammates for success.

“I got a taste of what next year will be like,” Watkins said. “I really think I made a great decision to attend this great university.”

Watkins wasn’t alone and received help from junior forward MacKenly Randolph and promising freshman center Emilia Krstevski.

Randolph had 11 points and nine rebounds while Krstevski added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Krstevski’s biggest contribution came from helping slow down the Torrey’s Arizona-bound center Breya Cunningham.

“She did a great job for a brand new freshman,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki said. “She was tough and didn’t back down. We were all really proud of her.”

Jada Williams scored 19 points to lead La Jolla Country Day and Cunningham finished with 14 points.

Sierra Canyon improved to 16-0 overall and it was all done in front of USC’s star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

“I invited him and I was really glad he showed up,” Watkins said.

Sierra Canyon hosts Alemany Tuesday and travels to Notre Dame Thursday before a showcase game in Massachusetts on Saturday at the HoopHall event at Springfield College.

Trailblazers open up league play

The Sierra Canyon boys basketball team is off to a solid 13-3 start going into the new year.

The Trailblazers recently finished in third place at the prestigious Les Schwab Invitational with an impressive 81-66 victory against Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada).

Sierra Canyon knocked off Jesuit (Portland, Oregon) and Central Catholic (Medford, Oregon) before losing 86-69 to West Linn (Oregon) in the semifinals. Sierra Canyon ran into Jackson Shelstad, possibly the best point guard in the country.

“He’s the fastest kid I have ever seen with the ball,” Sierra Canyon head coach Andre Chevalier said. “We definitely had a hard time staying in front of him.”

Sierra Canyon’s only three losses are all quality setbacks. Rancho Christian (probable Open Division team), St. Vincent-St. Mary’s (Ohio) and West Linn.

The Trailblazers also have a couple quality victories against San Joaquin Memorial, St. Joseph of Santa Maria and Christ the King (New York).

“The guys are still getting to know each other and figure things out,” Chevalier said. “I like the direction we are going and we want to be playing our best basketball in January, February and March.”

A trio of seniors have been leading the way. Bronny James, Ashton Hardaway and Jimmy Oladokun have been stapes along with senior point guard Dylan Metoyer.

Isaiah Elohim is emerging as a top flight junior wing and can score in bunches. Newcomers Noah Williams and Bryce Cofield are also contributing in positive ways.

The team will host Valencia and its trio of standout players (Mikah Ballew, Bryce Bedgood and Kai Davis) before starting Mission League play Friday against Chaminade.

A huge game awaits on Saturday at USC’s Galen Center against Wheeler (Georgia) and standout point guard Isaiah Collier before Sierra Canyon will travel to Massachusetts for a game in the HoopHall Classic on Martin Luther King, Jr. day January 16th.

The two biggest league games of the year will be January 20th at Harvard-Westlake and January 27th against Notre Dame at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.