Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

NCAA March Madness Preview

As we start a new year, basketball fans have begun to divert their attention to March Madness, the annual competition that decides the NCAA national champion. Every year, the contest lives up to its name as the nation becomes gripped by the tournament.

Many basketball and non-basketball fans take part in bracketing competitions, trying to guess the outcome of each game and the whole tournament as accurately as possible. While not all betting strategies can be directly taken from professional basketball, those looking to take part in a March Madness bracket can learn from the techniques for betting on the NBA.

2019 Winner

The Virginia Cavaliers won last year’s competition after they beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders in overtime. This was the first national championship win for the Cavaliers and was a hard-fought victory after pushing the final game into overtime for the first time in 11 years.
Cavaliers Again?

It is unlikely the Cavaliers will be able to pick up another title in 2020. The majority of Virginia’s key players, including Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, and Kyle Guy all entered the NBA Draft after their victory.

Last year’s runner up from Lubbock, Texas, have also lost a lot of key talent, leaving both teams relying on freshman talent for this season.


With a few weeks before March Madness gets underway, there’s still a lot that could change. However, some clear favorites are emerging.

A current favorite among bookmakers are the Duke Blue Devils. They currently sit at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with a 21-3 overall record, following a win against Florida State on Feb. 10 and also after they got past arch-rival North Carolina in overtime two days earlier. One of Duke’s top players is freshman Cassius Stanley, who helped Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth win the 2019 CIF Open Division state title.

Baylor University in Texas, which won the NCAA women’s national title just last season, also is a strong favorite. The Bears won their 21st straight game on Feb. 10 over Texas and were unbeaten in the Big 12 Conference. There’s also Gonzaga University out west, which has another outstanding team under head coach Mark Few.

Anyone looking to do well in their March Madness bracket will need to keep a close eye on the remaining games in the NCAA regular season. However, some clear favorites are emerging, some of whom are different from the teams that did well last season. While Baylor, Duke and Gonzaga are current favorites, the knockout nature of the tournament could easily result in their early departure from the competition.

Boys BB: Nike Extravaganza Recap

State No. 3 Rancho Christian of Temecula scores a big national win over Washington (D.C.) power Gonzaga, while Nike Extravaganza host Mater Dei of Santa Ana loses to Chicago power Whitney Young of Chicago. State No. 9 Harvard-Westlake lost to FAB 50 ranked Gorman of Las Vegas, as state powers went 1-2 vs. out-of-state foes, but the higher state-ranked club won in each of the games involving California teams.
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Ballislife Podcast on Kobe Bryant

Subscribe to the In The Paint Show on iTunes | Subscribe to the In The Paint Show on SoundCloud

In Episode No. 54 of our In The Paint Show,”  co-hosts Devin Ugland and Ronnie Flores, Cal-Hi Sports Managing Editor, publish the podcast they never thought in a million years would be necessary: a recollection and insight into the life of a gone-too-soon basketball star. In this case, it’s still shocking former Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant is no longer gracing the earth, gone at age 41 after a aviation accident last Sunday that killed seven other passengers, including his 13-year old daughter GiGi, and the pilot.

In a special two and one half hour show, the fellas bring on six special guests, each with their own unique perspective and insight on either Bryant’s formative years, legendary pro career or his untimely death.

Roundball Classic and ABCD Camp founder Sonny Vaccaro holds no punches, going in-depth on his relationship with Bryant while at Lower Merion (Ardmore, Pa.) and how the move was orchestrated to turn pro and join the Lakers after his show-stopping performance at the 1995 ABCD Camp.

Rashad Phillips of Sports Talk 2319, a member of the Class of 1996 as is former NBA guard Corey Benjamin, both break down their unique relationship with Bryant. Phillips was a late add-on to the 1996 Roundball Classic All-Star Game and Bryant’s inspirational words on national television that day still resonate. Benjamin, the 1996 Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball at Fontana High School, talks about what separated The Black Mamba from himself and other elites in that class.

Rome Douglas, a former NFL offensive lineman and Grid-Hoop star at Claremont High School, has a 11-year old daughter who is an up-and-coming basketball player, and both were present at the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on that fateful day. Douglas talks about being at the facility when the awful news broke and how Kobe’s and GiGi’s loss will reverberate in the girls basketball community for many years to come.

Frank Burlison of talks about evaluating Bryant for the first time as a rising junior while playing for the Sam Rines AAU travel ball club in Las Vegas. You won’t believe what Bean shot from the field on the day he made a lasting impression of the Hall of Fame sportswriter.

Beto Duran, a well-known sports broadcaster on many platforms in Southern California, discusses his interactions with Kobe while covering the Lakers and what the basketball icon meant to the Latino community in Southern California.

SHOW NOTES: Episode 54 Rundown

14:47: Sonny Vaccaro describes his reaction to Kobe’s death, goes in-depth on his history with Kobe.

56:50: Rashad Phillips on his memories of playing against Kobe at the 1996 Roundball Classic.

1:12:40: 1996 CalHiSports POY, former NBA player Corey Benjamin on hearing about Kobe in high school, interactions with him over the years.

1:22:48: Former NFL player Rome Douglas who was at Mamba Academy Sunday morning watching his 11 year-old daughter play. 

1:36:05: HOF hoops writer Frank Burlison recollects on his first time seeing Kobe play in high school and following his illustrious Lakers’ career.

2:00:51: Longtime SoCal journalist Beto Duran on his interactions with Kobe and what made him such a respected figure in the Latino community.

2:26:44: Ronnie and Devin close out the show with their most memorable Kobe moments.

To learn more about our hosts, Ronnie Flores and Devin Ugland, and to get more information about what “In The Paint” is all about, check out our intro below!

State Defensive POY: Justin Flowe

Regarded as the best linebacker in the nation and one of the best in California for the past 20 years, Upland’s Justin Flowe adds top defensive honors for the state to his growing list of honors, including the Butkus Award that is given to the nation’s most outstanding linebacker.
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Sierra Canyon Back On Track

In the second matchup of the year between state heavyweights Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and Rancho Christian of Temecula, this time at No. 1 and No. 2 in the rankings, it’s the No. 2 team that is victorious once again, as No. 2 Trailblazers win the rematch game, 78-62. The dynamic Sierra Canyon forward duo of B.J. Boston and Ziaire Williams combine for 50 points, as the Trailblazers will regain the state’s top ranking next week and be in good position for the upcoming CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
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Best Fitness Trackers For Athletes

Finally, a new decade is here! We’re all bursting with New Year resolutions, and health & fitness goals are a part of that list. So what better way to keep your fitness goals alive all year round than by getting a personal fitness assistant who continually checks on your vitals, calories and sleep quality. Photo credit:

Investing in a quality fitness tracker will help you ace your fitness resolutions this year. We feature some A-list brands and evaluate each in terms of specs, stand-out features, design and software compatibility.’=

Want to crush your workouts and maximize your recovery? Get yourself a smart fitness tracker.
Tone up!

What to consider when choosing a fitness tracker?

Fitness trackers are targeted at different users. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, there are tons of fitness trackers available and finding the right one can be quite challenging.

Whether you’re an avid athlete or gym rat, there’s a fitness tracker for your health and fitness needs. before buying a fitness tracker consider the following:

Power: What is the battery life of your fitness tracker? Can it last long enough to complement your physical activity needs? A wide variety of fitness trackers run on batteries and you’ll need to refill the tank once they dry out. The longer-lasting the battery, the better value for your bucks you get.

Smartphone compatibility: Choose a fitness tracker that can connect to your Smartphone device. This way, you can send and receive texts and calls while you exercise and also your workout stats. Some trackers feature Smartphone apps to allow you to store your health data in one convenient place.

Design: Test out your wearables to find out whether they are lightweight and comfortable or heavy and super clunky. Invest in a fitness tracker that fits your wrist like a glove and is not an eyesore. Look for wearables in a variety of colorful and stylish designs to complement your outfits.

Wellness features: What fitness goals do you want to achieve and what are the essential components you have to track? Some trackers monitor your heart rate while others track your sleep patterns and calories burned. We have monitors that keep track of daily movement and distance covered per workout. These give you valuable insights into your physical and mental state.

Physical activity: What are your fitness routine needs? How can your fitness tracker improve your fitness regimen? If you engage in a light exercise like walking, yoga or Pilates, go for a basic fitness tracker to monitor your sleep and heart rate.

On the other hand, if you are into high-intensity workouts including swimming and running, choose a more premium quality fitness tracker with a slew of features like vital reads and mileage tracker.

Best Fitness Trackers for Athletes:
These innovative fitness trackers are the inspiration you need to get off the couch. They’ll help nudge you towards better lifestyle choices. Whether you want to ace your fitness goals, keep tabs on your overall health or analyze your performance, there is a fitness tracker for your needs.

Fitfort fitness tracker with blood pressure HR monitor
Fitfort takes the crown when it comes to the best fitness tracker for athletes. If you’re looking for a fitbit with blood pressure monitor, this is your ideal choice. Fitfort is one of the most accomplished all-round fitness trackers with a full suite of fitness tracking features including all-day step counting, heart rate and blood pressure monitoring thanks to its smart Matter Sensing Technology.

We like the large, stylish 0.9 inch LCD display with up to 5 adjustable brightness levels. Couch potatoes! This wristwatch will remind you to keep it moving plus it features 14 fitness modes to help you spice up your workout routines. Plus it lasts you up to a week on a full tank.

Get valuable insights into your sleep quality, step count and calories torched per workout session. With the SNS alert, you can stay connected to your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. On the flip side, you can only connect to a Smartphone but not iPhone or tablet.

Mgaolo fitness tracker

Style and substance meet quality with the innovative Mgaolo fitness tracker. This wristwatch offers a slew of creative perks to help you nail your fitness goals. Monitor your heartbeat with a glance on your wrist. It comes in a thin, stylish design with an innovative scorecard to help you adjust your workout plans and lifestyle to suit your needs.

With the innovative sleep tracking capabilities plus detailed sleep analysis, you can monitor your sleep patterns to wake up refreshed both physically and mentally. This wristwatch is a pretty darn good investment if you’re looking to get into shape. The vivid display shows you how much calories you have torched after each workout plan.

This reliable fitness tracker is a plus especially for ladies. You can monitor your menstrual cycle and ovulation days when you’re trying for a baby. The only downside is the GPS isn’t inbuilt, and it’s not compatible with PC and iPad.

How much does a fitness tracker cost?

Most fitness trackers cost between $50 and $250. Less than $50 and you’re stuck with a subpar device with mediocre accuracy. Also, they don’t come with a display so you can’t keep track of your steps unless you use your smartphone.

Pricey options over $250 pack a slew of top-notch features including built-in GPS and heart-rate monitors and are often tailored towards exercise enthusiasts. Figure out your needs first before buying a fitness tracker. If your primary physical activity is walking, save yourself the extra expense of buying a tracker with a heart rate and blood pressure monitor.

Bottom line:

Fitness trackers are essential for sports junkies. These powerful devices help push your limits while exercising and enable you to smash your fitness goals.

Before settling on your ideal fitness tracker, be on the lookout for durability and features. This will determine whether you go running or swimming. If you want high-end features, you’ll definitely spend more. The best fitness tracker narrows down to what you want to achieve.

Mater Dei girls win at Jamboree

Here is the championship photo of the Santa Ana Mater Dei team after winning in Platinum Division title game of the West Coast Jamboree. Photo: Paul Muyskens.

The 20th annual West Coast Jamboree concluded in the Platinum Division on Monday night at College Park High in Pleasant Hill where it was a matchup between two of the state’s top five ranked teams. The most historical moment of the night, though, occurred in the third-place game when Archbishop Mitty of San Jose head coach Sue Phillips won the 700th game of her career.

For our all-decade all-state teams, CLICK HERE.
For recaps of the SoCal Classic involving Long Beach Poly and La Jolla Country Day, CLICK HERE.

Before the Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth girls basketball teams hit the floor for the title game of the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree, it was already known that unbeaten Cal-Hi Sports state No. 1 La Jolla Country Day had dropped its first game of the season earlier in the evening in the title game of a different tournament in San Diego to Long Beach Poly.

Sierra Canyon, the defending CIF Open Division state champions with a wealth of returning standouts, was looking to make a statement after losing to La Jolla Country Day by one point in the finals of the top division at the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Brooke Demetre grabs a rebound for Mater Dei during game against Sierra Canyon at West Coast Jamboree. Photo: Paul Muyskens.

Instead, the statement after Monday night’s games may be this: It’s going to be a dogfight anytime one of the top four or five teams in the state plays each other and any one of them can win on any given night.

Mater Dei scratched out an early lead against the Trailblazers and really never let it go in posting a 43-42 victory before a packed gym at College Park High in Pleasant Hill. A big moment for the Monarchs, who lost their only game in overtime to Long Beach Poly in a different tourney final, came in the closing seconds of the third quarter when Soleil Montrose buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give them a 31-27 lead.

With the two head coaches, Kevin Kiernan of Mater Dei and his former assistant, Alicia Komaki of Sierra Canyon, employing difficult defensive strategies, getting a four-point lead in that type of a game seemed to feel as if it was much larger. The Trailblazers tried a couple of three-pointers in the last 30 seconds that could have cut it to a one-point lead but the shots didn’t fall. There was one last shot that did go in, but Mater Dei already had secured the win.

Alyssa Frescas led the Monarchs with 12 points and joined teammate and MVP Brooke Demetre on the all-tourney team along with Meaali’i Amosa who finished with 12 rebounds to go with eight points. Demetre, the team’s talented junior forward, was held in check by Sierra Canyon’s defense but was honored for her output from earlier in the tourney. Caia Elisaldez also hit double figures with 10 points while Montrose finished with nine.

Vanessa Smart, who was once the Ventura County Player of the Year at her previous school (Hueneme of Oxnard), kept Sierra Canyon close by making three from three-point land in the first quarter. She ended with a game-high 17 points. The Trailblazers’ other lead guards, Vanessa DeJesus and Ashley Chevalier, got the bulk of the defensive attention from Mater Dei and could only score seven and six points, respectively.

Both teams will have further opportunities to try to secure the important No. 1 seed for the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs (although Long Beach Poly may be the leader for that right now). It’s also important to note that for the second year there will be home sites used for the CIF Southern California Open Division regional final and none of the CIFSS teams will want to have to travel to La Jolla to play in that game.

Third-Place Game Platinum Division
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 75, St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 39

The big storyline after the Monarchs breezed past the Pilots was that head coach Sue Phillips became just the fifth coach in the history of California girls hoops (according to our own Cal-Hi Sports state records) to win 700 games.

Mitty improved to 8-3 with its losses to Mater Dei (in the semifinals of the Jamboree played last Saturday 47-41), nationally ranked Riverdale Baptist of Maryland (58-51) and La Jolla Country Day. The Monarchs led 17-8 over the Pilots after the first quarter and went nuts in the second quarter to take a 54-27 lead.

Phillips’ girls will only get better. She has a lineup almost exclusively of juniors and sophomores and the group may add standout junior Hunter Hernandez (rehabbing a knee injury) before the end of the season.

Football Cleats Buying Tips

No matter what your role in football is, either lineman, quarterback, or defensive back, you will always need football cleats. This can offer support, traction, and comfort to your feet. Indeed, the cleats can make a big difference in your performance. Without cleats, you can increase your chances of having injuries as you make tackles and cuts.
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Updated State FB Teams of Yr Lists

We have traditionally posted the updated all-time State Teams of the Year for football after each season as part of our postseason coverage of free content. We are doing it this year in a blog post attached to the main story. We also are adding the public schools all-time list (scroll below), which currently goes back to 1990. Prior to 1990, public schools were more often the overall State Team of the Year. All final state rankings will be Gold Club content.
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Mikey Williams: Freshman hits for 77

San Ysidro of the CIF San Diego Section had the leading freshman scorer in the state last season when D.J. Dudley knocked down 24.6 points per game, including a highest scoring single-game of 40 points.




But that’s nothing compared to what freshman Mikey Williams is doing for the Cougars this season. With Dudley now at Fairfax of Los Angeles on a transfer, Williams already had two 51-point games this season for San Ysidro. Then on Friday night in a semifinal game of the Tiger Classic tourney at Imperial High (home of NFL running back Royce Freeman), Mikey blew up for 77 points in a 116-52 win over Kearny of San Diego.
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