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High school football: La Salle's schedule release includes games against national power IMG Academy - OFFICIAL
High school football: La Salle's schedule release includes games against national power IMG Academy
The National Football League is set to release its 2021 schedule Wednesday and were about 100 days from the start of the high school football fall season. Some teams, like La Salle (Cincinnati), are taking a cue from the NFL and releasing their schedule.

The Lancers play in the Greater Catholic League-South, one of the toughest in Ohio, and also face a difficult non-league schedule headlined by a showdown against 2020 MaxPreps National Champion, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.).

"We want our kids to play the best teams. So, here we go," La Salle head coach Pat McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin and the Lancers face three teams ranked in the final MaxPreps Top 25. La Salle hosts the Ascenders on Sept. 3 at Lancer Stadium. IMG went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country last fall.

The Lancers travel to Kentucky to face Trinity (Louisville) on Sept. 10. The Shamrocks won their eighth state title since 2010 and finished 10th nationally last fall, going 10-0 while outscoring the opposition 429-48.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 1, La Salle hosts Indiana 5A champion Cathedral (Indianapolis). The Fighting Irish finished at No. 19 in the MaxPreps Top 25 after going 13-1.

La Salle was 8-3 last season, falling 14-10 to Washington (Massillon) in the Ohio Division II semifinals. The Lancers won a state title in 2019, their fourth since 2014. The 2021 schedule they've compiled should prepare the Lancers for all-comers in the postseason.

MaxPreps starts releasing its preseason high school football content with the preseason MaxPreps Top 25 on June 23. Expect to see the Lancers featured in our Top 10 toughest schedules dropping later in July.
La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin, seen in 2019, has a tough schedule prepared for the Lancers this season, facing reigning MaxPreps National Champion IMG Academy as well as Trinity and Cathedral.
File photo by Jeff Harwell
La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin, seen in 2019, has a tough schedule prepared for the Lancers this season, facing reigning MaxPreps National Champion IMG Academy as well as Trinity and Cathedral.
2021 La Salle football schedule

Aug. 20 — vs. Colerain (Cincinnati)

Aug. 27 — vs. Winton Woods (Cincinnati)

Sept. 3 — vs. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

Sept. 10 — at Trinity (Louisville)

Sept. 17 — vs. DuPont Manual (Louisville)

*Sept. 24 — at Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)

Oct. 1 — vs. Cathedral (Indianapolis)

*Oct. 8 — at St. Xavier (Cincinnati)

Oct. 15 — at Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood)

*Oct. 22 — vs. Elder (Cincinnati)

*Indicates league game
High school softball: Maci Bergeron, Baylea Brandon headline list of OFFICIAL National Player of the Year candidates - OFFICIAL
High school softball: Maci Bergeron, Baylea Brandon headline list of MaxPreps National Player of the Year candidates
The high school softball season is over in some states, deep into playoffs in others, or if you're in New York, you could be in game three of your season.

That makes identifying candidates for MaxPreps National Softball Player of the Year a bit tricky. It also means others will emerge and this list is just kicking off the discussion. If you feel a player deserves to be considered, email [email protected] or follow on twitter @smontoyamp.

This initial list of 10 candidates includes a few recently-crowned state champions, a few who've completed their year, several in postseason play and one that still has nine more regular season games left to go.

Past MaxPreps National Player of the Year winners
2020 —  No award (Pandemic)
2019 — Sydney Supple, Oshkosh North (Oshkosh, Wis.)
2018 — Montana Fouts, East Carter (Grayson, Ky.)
2017 — Taylor Dockins, Norco (Calif.)
2016 — Caroline Hedgcock, Downers Grove South (Downers Grove, Ill.)
2015 — Tannon Snow, Chino Hills (Calif.)
2014 — Johanna Grauer, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.)
2013 — Casey Stangel, Lake City (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho)
2012 — Kenzie Conrad, Keystone (La Grange, Ohio)
2011 — Paige McDuffee, The Woodlands (Texas)
2010 — Kasey Fagan, Dunnellon (Fla.)
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
Softball Player of the Year Watch List

P Annika Litterio | Warren (San Antonio) | Sr.
The top pitcher for one of the best teams in the country has been dominant all season. The UTEP commit has a 0.23 ERA through 90 innings pitched. She's averaging just over two strikeouts per inning. The righty can also swing a bat with a .458 average with 27 RBI.

OF Baylea Brandon | Leander (Texas) | Sr.
If Brandon gets pitched to (29 walks), she is deadly with the bat. The LSU commit has 18 home runs and has two or more hits in 15 games this season. The powerful lefty is a major threat on the base paths as well as with 30 stolen bases.

P Emiley Kennedy | Lake Creek (Montgomery, Texas) | Sr.
The Texas A&M commit has not allowed an earned run this season in 84 innings pitched. The hard-throwing lefty has 168 strikeouts while allowing 18 hits in 299 batters faced. She's also hit 13 home runs.

UT Karissa Hamilton | Shelbyville (Shelbyville, Ind.) | Jr.
In 18 games, the Kentucky commit has 18 home runs while batting .719 with 45 RBI.

P Kylie Chung | Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.) | Sr.
With the CIF Southern Section announcing spring playoffs will happen, the state of California will have a player up for Player of the Year consideration. Chung, a Stanford commit, is batting .471 with four home runs. She's also 8-0 in the circle with a 0.77 ERA.

C Maci Bergeron | Notre Dame (Crowley, La.) | Jr.
She led the Pioneers to another state title this season after smashing a nation-best 30 home runs. The LSU commit has hit 62 career bombs. She also drove in 70 runs and has 174 RBI in just two full seasons of play.

P Madi Ogden | Williamsburg (Ohio) | Sr.
The Morehead State University commit has thrown seven no-hitters this season, per Mike Dyer of WCPO in Cincinnati. The 18th-ranked Wildcats have yet to enter stats on MaxPreps.

OF Nyjah Fontenot | Barbe (Lake Charles, La.) | Sr.
Led her team to a Louisiana Class 5A state title. The Arkansas commit hit 11 home runs and batted .530 this season. Her junior teammate Halie Pappion is in the running as well after finishing 19-1 in the circle.

P Paige Kilgore | Houston (Miss.) | Sr.
The Southern Miss commit has been pitching at the varsity level since she was in seventh grade. She went 22-0 in the circle this season and struck 247 batters. She has 817 career strikeouts and a 95-6 overall record.

SJ Geurin | Leander (Texas) | Sr.
The Oklahoma commit is the ace for the top-ranked team in the country. In 81 innings pitched, Geurin has struck out 223 batters and has allowed 11 earned runs.
TyTy Washington named 2020-21 OFFICIAL Arizona High School Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
TyTy Washington named 2020-21 MaxPreps Arizona High School Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

TyTy Washington of AZ Compass Prep (Chandler) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps Arizona High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior helped the Dragons go 27-1 en route to the program's first GEICO Nationals invite.

Washington averaged 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds per contest to lead AZ Compass Prep to the No. 2 spot in this week's MaxPreps Top 25.

A leading candidate for MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors, Washington put together a number of strong performances in big games, including averaging 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest in three games at the Montverde Academy Invitational.

Regarded as the No. 30 prospect in the Class of 2021, Washington holds 34 college offers including Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, LSU, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas Tech, UCLA and USC among others.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team, which is scheduled to be released April 13.
TyTy Washington in action against Prolific Prep during a February game.
Photo by Mark Jones
TyTy Washington in action against Prolific Prep during a February game.

Bryce McGowens named 2020-21 OFFICIAL South Carolina High School Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
Bryce McGowens named 2020-21 MaxPreps South Carolina High School Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-2021 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Bryce McGowens of Legacy Early College (Greenville) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps South Carolina High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound senior helped the Lions go 14-7 against a challenging national schedule.

McGowens averaged 21.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest this season. He was the leading scorer at the St. James NIBC Invitational, posting 20.9 points per contest in seven appearances at the loaded event.

After spending his first three years at Wren (Piedmont), McGowens transferred to Legacy Early College prior to his senior season. He finished his four-year high school career with over 2,300 points.

Signed with Nebraska, McGowens is regarded as the No. 21 prospect in the Class of 2021 overall according to 247Sports. Florida, Florida State, Maryland and Oregon were among the other college basketball programs to extend offers.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team, which is scheduled to be released April 13.
Extending the Season: No Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy, but three fantastic finishes - OFFICIAL
Extending the Season: No Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy, but three fantastic finishes
Video: Sierra Canyon wins at buzzer
Trailblazers advance to state in dramatic fashion.

The lights at Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, have never shined so bright for a high school event.
 
In each of the past two seasons, the star-studded boys basketball team from Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) played against hometown Sheldon (Sacramento). The energy and excitement was palpable for the games that capped the CIF's 12-game state basketball championships.

The Trailblazers brought an entourage that included former NBA players and Hollywood celebrities, who sat courtside for all to see.

They are high school basketball's version of the Showtime Lakers.

The hometown fans walked away disappointed each of the past two seasons as the flashy visitors showed more than just a little glitz — Sierra Canyon won each game handily, 76-52 and 75-62. But Huskies were hopeful that with a strong cast returning, including Marcus Bagley, younger brother of Kings' star Marvin Bagley, they would return in 2020 to flip those results.

The Huskies and Trailblazers appeared on a collision course before the coronavirus pandemic struck the country full force last week.

Sierra Canyon, featuring 5-star prospects in Ziaire Williams, Brandon Boston Jr. and Amari Bailey, plus the sons of LeBron James (Bronny James) and Dwyane Wade (Zaire Wade), captured its third straight Southern California regional title in the most dramatic way possible.
This buzzer beater by Ziaire Williams against Etiwanda would turn out to be the last shot of the season for Sierra Canyon.
Photo by Louis Lopez
This buzzer beater by Ziaire Williams against Etiwanda would turn out to be the last shot of the season for Sierra Canyon.
The Trailblazers pulled off a 63-61 stunner over Etiwanda as Williams, a McDonald's All-American, finished off a 13-0 run to close the game with a fade-away, 17-foot swish at the buzzer to set off a wild celebration.

"It was truly surreal," Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said a week after the shot. "How magical was it for us to just fight all the way back from that seemingly endless hole? And then to win it on that shot by Ziaire. Truly surreal."

Sheldon's path to the Northern California finals was similarly unlikely — perhaps even more so.

One week before the finals, the plug was pulled on the Huskies' season after a student in Sheldon's district was quarantined as a precaution for coronavirus.

Two days of public outcry and political pressure led to top-seeded Sheldon being reinstated, but the Huskies found themselves down eight late on the road in the semifinals against a very determined Dublin squad.

Yet, they fought back to win 65-64, powered by Bagley's 27 points that included an improbable go-ahead shot with 17.5 seconds remaining.

"I'm proud of all of our guys, our team," Bagley told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee. "I'm happy. We've been resilient all year. Learned a lot about our team. We're built for this. That's why this game meant so much."

That win vaulted Sheldon in the semifinals against another team built on great resolve, the Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) Dragons. Winners of 18 straight games after a 5-7 start, O'Dowd looked capable of derailing the Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy.

The Dragons had one the top freshman in the country, 6-foot-8 14-year-old forward Jalen Lewis, one of the state's top juniors in Marsalis Roberson and Cal signee Monty Bowser, as well as their own motivation.

It was five years ago that Ivan Rabb sank a game-winning free throw with less than a second to play to shock Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the state final. A book "Dragon Hoops," was supposed to be released on the anniversary of that game, and O'Dowd was bent on repeating the feat.

It would have been a tall order, but O'Dowd was at the top of its game after a decisive 13-point road win over second seed Archbishop Mitty in the NorCal semifinals.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is our last game," O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said after the game. "Tomorrow is not promised."

Turned out, Richie called it.

The morning of the delayed O'Dowd-Sheldon NorCal finals on March 12, CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti canceled that game and the weekend's 2020 state championship games.

"While we understand this decision is disappointing, we strongly believe that the opportunity to compete in this event does not outweigh our obligation to place the health and safety of our member schools and school communities above all else," he said.

No Sheldon-Sierra Canyon trilogy. No O'Dowd epilogue. No Trailblazers' three-peat.

All three coaches lamented the disappointment — how thrilling it would have been to watch all those talented athletes under the simmering spotlight.

But each coach recognized the bigger picture — health and safety. They also found silver linings in ending on a high note.

Sheldon coach Joey Rollings focused on how his team inspired a community to keep them in the tournament, and how the Huskies reciprocated with a likewise effort, without practicing for three days.

"My kids never quit," Rollings told the Bee's Davidson. "We got to go out on an exciting note. We wish we could play another game, but we can't control that. Our kids seem to understand. They're disappointed, but kids are resilient." 

Richie had a similar message for his Dragons, who featured seven seniors.

"A lot of the kids were very upset," Richie said. "They're hurt. Disappointed. I tried to convey that they had a great season. It's disappointing it ended that way, but don't let things you can't control get you down. Besides that, when we focus on our last game, it couldn't have gone any better. If we played like that in the NorCal or state finals, we definitely would have had a shot."

Teams took their best shot at Sierra Canyon all season, Chevalier said. The Trailblazers had a giant "X" on their back from Day One.

Despite that target they finished 30-4, No. 15 in the final MaxPreps national rankings and won section and regional titles.

"It's always great to win your last game and the way we did was amazing," Chevalier said. "We would have loved to be able and play that last game to try to three-peat as state champion. But sometimes life takes priority over sport. We want our country and this world to be safe.

"All that said, going 30-4 this season, starting in China and going all over the U.S. with a big target on our back is a great testament to who we are as a team. I'm super proud of how they reacted to all they had to deal with, and then to play our best basketball at the end of the season was very special. It is a very special group."