Classic opener

ROSAMOND — Three teams came away with blowout victories and one prevailed by a hair on Day 1 of the Roadrunner Classic basketball tournament on Monday at Rosamond High School.

The Quartz Hill Rebels beat Palmdale Aerospace Academy, 77-46, behind a barrage of 3-pointers. Sophomore point guard Shemar Fisher made five by himself. The team made 12.

Rebels head coach Bernard Nichter said the team’s style this season will be to get up and down the court and shoot threes.

“It’s always been my style,” Nichter said. “It’s just the last couple of years, we haven’t had guys that have been able to knock them down. Our whole season depends this year on whether we can knock them down.”

The Palmdale Falcons beat the Arvin Bears, 89-57, also using the 3-point shot as their main weapon. Junior guard Damyn Wilson had five threes in the game.

Neither the Rebels or the Falcons trailed in their games.

The Paraclete Spirits overcame a halftime deficit to beat the Eastside Lions, 69-51. The Spirits trailed 28-24 despite holding a six-point lead after the first quarter.

But when the third quarter began, the Lions started turning the ball over, which led to points on the other end for Paraclete.

“Turnovers definitely changed the game,” Eastside head coach Jesse Parker said. “Once we turned the ball over and we got down, we had to pressure, which (Paraclete) handled well and got layups and dunks. You just can’t do that.”

The Spirits started the second half with two 3-pointers apiece from junior guards Chris Gayles and Tommy Manko. Paraclete scored 24 points in the third quarter alone to give it a 12-point lead going into the last frame.

Paraclete went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth and led 58-36. The run essentially ended the game.

Spirits head coach Newton Chelette said his team did a better job in the second half of defending dribble penetration and executing on offense.

“When we do those two things,” Chelette said, “we’re pretty good.”

The Rosamond Roadrunners won a 61-58 nail-biter against Arvin, which played twice on Monday. The Roadrunners trailed by one after the first quarter, and the game was tied at halftime.

The Bears held a 31-28 lead in the third, but the Roadrunners went on a 9-0 run to build a 37-31 lead. Arvin trailed by nine with seconds to go in the quarter, but sophomore guard Carlos Norzagaray drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to only six heading into the fourth quarter.

The Roadrunners and Bears went back and forth to start the last frame, with Arvin taking a seven-point lead and Rosamond closing to within three just minutes later. Bears junior Mark Ruiz rebounded his own miss and made a layup, tying the game at 55.

The Bears took a 56-55 lead on Gabriel Zapata’s free throw, but the Roadrunners made a basket to take back the lead with 39.6 seconds left.

Two Roadrunners free throws gave them a three-point lead, but Zapata scored on a put-back to bring Arvin to within one with only 5 seconds left.

Rosamond again made two clutch free throws, and a last-second 3-point attempt by the Bears misfired, giving the Roadrunners the victory.

Roadrunners head coach Michael Ernest said the team is “not young, but inexperienced,” but thinks the tournament will help with that.

“This was a good win in terms of getting their first win under their belt,” Ernest said. “There’s still a lot of improvement, a lot of things they’re not used to at the varsity level. So that’s the key right there. We don’t have experience, so we’re just using this non-league opportunity to get us experience so that when league comes around, we’ll be ready.”

The tournament continues today with five games on the schedule, one of which will be played at Tropico Middle School.

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Desert Christian reaches summit

FRESNO – Moments after the last Desert Christian High School cross country runner crossed the finish line at the CIF State Championships on Saturday, the entire team came together for a prayer. Some felt confident they had won the title, while others wanted to see the official results posted on the CIF website before celebrating.

For 10 minutes, several runners on the team refreshed the results page of the website on their phones, anxiously awaiting word on whether they could call themselves state champions or leave Woodward Park in crushing disappointment.

Then the team and those around them let out an uproarious cheer. Head coach Andy Visokey started crying and bellowed, “Oh my God, thank you God.” Senior Andrew Mitchell jumped on a teammate in jubilance.

At that point, it became official.

After eight consecutive years of qualifying but coming up short, the Knights won the Division 5 state championship. The team scored 70 points – 33 less than second-place Flintridge Prep – with its team time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and 7 seconds.

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Ain’t no mountain high enough

FRESNO — For a team that could win its first-ever CIF State Championship today, the Desert Christian High School boys cross country team looked remarkably relaxed on Friday.

During a dinner attended only by the seven runners and the team’s trainer, Clay Patten, the boys ribbed each other about their potential love interests and also talked about cars.

Earlier in the day as the boys waited in line for a group photo with their alternates, coaches, families and members of the girls varsity and junior varsity teams, Justin Ebenhack and Joseph DeVore played a ukulele and sang “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Little Drummer Boy” to pass the time.

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Valley tennis players fall in CIF 1st round

CLAREMONT — Girls tennis players from three Antelope Valley high schools went into Round 1 of the CIF Southern Section Individual Sectionals on Monday, but none came out.

Quartz Hill sophomore singles player Katelyn Abaied went the distance, but lost in a third-set super tiebreaker, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 10-4. Lancaster and Highland’s top doubles teams both lost in straight 6-0 sets, and Quartz Hill junior singles player Angela Zhang was also swept, 6-0, 6-0.

Abaied played Fairmont Prep’s Claire Chen, who finished second in the San Joaquin League. She looked off her game in the first set, but rebounded well and went up 3-0 in the second.

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Antelope Valley clicks on offense

LANCASTER — After a scoreless first quarter, the Antelope Valley High School football team settled in, turned on the offense and advanced in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 playoffs with a 45-27 win over the Woodridge Warriors on Friday.

Antelopes senior running back Spud Thompson scored three touchdowns, while junior quarterback Devon Williams threw two touchdown passes. Senior tight end Jacohen Walker scored on a 90-yard kickoff return.

Antelopes head coach Ron Wilson said the team had some trouble connecting passes in the early stages of the game. But once the team got some offense going with its run game, its pass game soon followed.

“The tables kind of turned once we kind of settled in,” Wilson said.

The Antelopes gave up the first touchdown to the Warriors early in the first quarter after an eight-play drive ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass by Warriors quarterback Spencer Weston to wide receiver Nate Ledoux. But Antelope Valley fought back with authority.

The Antelopes tied the score at 7 with 8:38 left to go in the second quarter on a 69-yard touchdown pass thrown by Williams to Daveon Moore.

Less than two minutes later after forcing a punt, Antelope Valley’s Thompson returned a Warriors kickoff all the way to the red zone. Five plays later, Williams threw this second touchdown pass of the night – this one to Thompson for 14 yards.

The Antelopes didn’t stop there. On third down and 5 for Woodridge, Antelopes defensive end Arleau Davis sacked Weston for a loss of 11 yards. The Warriors turned the ball over on the next play on an incomplete pass.

Antelope Valley took over and scored in only four plays, ignited by an 18-yard run by Devon Williams. Thompson ended the drive on a 1-yard run for the team’s third touchdown and a 21-7 lead.

With 30 seconds left in the first half, Walker caught a kickoff from the Warriors and took off. He avoided the entire Woodridge team and ran 90 yards for a touchdown that gave the Antelopes a 28-14 lead.

Antelopes kicker Juan Robles’ field goal gave them a 31-14 lead at halftime.

Thompson scored on a 41-yard run in Antelope Valley’s first drive of the second half, giving them a 38-14 lead. The Warriors never threatened after that.

The Antelopes will play Silverado in the CIF-SS Division 9 semifinals on Nov. 25. Silverado won its game Friday against La Salle, 46-41.

AV adds a twist

It’s Thursday afternoon. The Antelope Valley High School football team just finished four days of rigorous mental and physical preparation for today’s second round CIF Southern Section Division 9 playoff game.

Right after the team’s walk-through, the players — dressed in T-shirts, sweat pants and socks — file into the weight room, each grabbing a brightly colored mat from a bin. Instead of pumping iron, they lay down their mats among the machines, turn off two rows of lights and prepare for a different type of exercise.

“Dial in, dial in,” one player says in a normal but authoritative voice just loud enough for his teammates to hear.

The Antelopes are about to embark on their weekly yoga session, in which they eschew warrior-like war cries for inhales and exhales in unison, and work on extending their muscles rather than hardening them.

If it seems a bit hokey, don’t sweat it: The players once agreed.

“(There) was a time when we thought it was silly,” senior tight end Moses Robinson-Carr said. “We didn’t take it serious because it was yoga. We don’t ‘do’ yoga every day in our life. It ain’t something that we wake up thinking about.”

But it didn’t take long for the players to completely buy in. Junior quarterback Devon Williams thought the idea of yoga sessions was “a joke” when he first heard of it. But now, he does poses every day and said it helps him calm himself.

“It helps me a lot,” Williams said. “Coming off of every game, I’m sore. It helps open up everything and gets me ready for every Friday night.

“Namaste” won’t be heard at Antelopes yoga sessions, and there’s a reason. Football operations coordinator Desiree Heller, who has practiced yoga for about 10 years and leads the team’s weekly sessions, said the point of all those poses is to prevent muscle-related injuries and enhance muscle recovery.

Since the start of last season, no Antelope Valley players have missed time due to a strain, sprain or ligament tear, Heller said.

Senior outside linebacker Zapre McClain’s muscles have reaped the benefits of yoga. He used to battle calf and groin pulls. But with regular yoga, McClain has been injury-free.

McClain admitted that he thought yoga was “weird” and a “feminine thing.” But once he saw the difference in his health and the way it brought his team closer together, he bought in.

“It turned out to be better than I thought,” McClain said.

Heller introduced the idea of regular yoga sessions four years ago, when head coach Ron Wilson arrived. At first, Wilson was skeptical, but he decided to give it a try after some lobbying from Heller, who pushed the importance of yoga’s influence on injury prevention and its psychological benefits for student-athletes.

At first, things got off to a rocky start. The team held only a few sessions in the school cafeteria and had to use the cheerleaders’ practice mats because there were no yoga mats.

A year later, after a successful social media campaign that resulted in donated mats for every player, Heller decided to start earlier in the summer and make the sessions more regular.

Since then, the practice has become so popular that Heller leads yoga sessions with the boys and girls basketball teams, wrestling team and track teams.

Heller said she conducts her sessions based on what sport the athletes play, and what player she has in front of her at the time. Robinson-Carr spoke to how the football team has applied its yoga sessions.

“We do stretches that help us out with catching, stretching to be able to go get the ball, to be able to stretch your arms out to go out and tackle,” Robinson-Carr said.

But perhaps the biggest difference-maker has been the relaxation portion of the sessions. After the sequences of yoga poses, the players lay down on their mats — some face-down, others on their backs — while Heller instructs them to sequentially tighten and then release certain parts of their body.

As the players oblige, Heller plays specific songs by Katy Perry, Wiz Khalifa and Michael Jackson with lyrics meant to put the team in a certain mindset. Many players fall asleep during relaxation, said Heller, who also encourages the players to declutter their minds during this time.

“I told them that this is their time to kind of have minutes to themselves where no one is expecting anything of them other than being themselves,” Heller said, adding that the musical component was added this season. “They can just breathe. There’s no assignment due, there’s no miles to run. There’s nothing. It’s just breathe and relax and kind of let your mind go.”

Wilson said he’s seen a different side of his players when he witnesses them in relaxation.

“It’s kind of like a safe zone,” Wilson said. “It’s a relaxation time where they can clear their mind. And I did see a big difference in the kids, and they enjoyed it.”

Other than the physical benefits, the Antelopes have experienced mental advantages resulting from regular yoga sessions. McClain said it calms him down when he has an important things to do at school. Robinson-Carr said it helps him think better and make better decisions in the classroom and when playing football.

“It’s helped me mentally to just learn from what I do in yoga and bring it out on the field,” Robinson-Carr said.

The team says Antelope Valley is the only high school with yoga as part of its sports program, and that a big reason why is because colleges and professional teams use it for their teams.

“We’re the flagship school in a lot of ways,” Heller said. “We like to keep it next-level.”

It’s clear that yoga is here to stay at Antelope Valley High School, and it could be the secret to the program’s recent success.

“The more we kind of supplement these guys with things that’s not just football, but life lessons and things that’s going to help them become better young men and better students and better athletes and future great alumni,” Wilson said, “we’re all for it.”

Klundt finishes in 22nd at state tourney

MORRO BAY – Antelope Valley College freshman golfer Michaela Klundt finished 22nd overall in the CCCAA State Championship tournament on Monday.

Klundt, who was the first-ever AV College golfer to qualify for the state tournament, shot an 11-over 83 on Sunday, and a 12-over 84 on Monday.

Klundt said she felt disappointed about her performance in the tournament. The course had many hills, and having to walk up and down them affected her on a sunny and warm Sunday, she said.

“After about eight holes, I was gassed,” Klundt said. “I feel like I couldn’t play to the best of my ability and I already had that mental block that it was just too much.”

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