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Fryer: Los Alamitos' Worku a conversation starter

STAFF COLUMNIST

It is too early to discuss Orange County boys basketball player of the year.

Player of the month? Easy.

That would be Eyassu Worku. The 6-foot-2 senior guard at Los Alamitos averaged 27 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists a game for the Griffins, who went 12-3 in December.

Worku scored a school-record 51 points Monday in an 87-80 victory against Highland in a tournament in Escondido. That didn’t wear him out. Worku, who has signed with UC Irvine, scored 33 points the next night in Los Al’s 75-63 tournament win over San Marcos.

OK, so maybe it’s not too early to discuss county player of the year.

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• Another team that had a fine December was JSerra. The Lions took an 11-2 record into the Lakewood X-Mas Classic championship game Thursday against Lakewood.

• San Clemente lost to Clovis West, 51-50, in the boys basketball Tustin Classic championship game Wednesday. The Tritons’ Blake Birmingham and Cole Fotheringham were all-tournament.

• Beckman (12-3) won the championship of its division in the boys basketball Max Preps tournament at Rancho Mirage. Michael Yee, a tournament MVP, scored 28 points and Justin Reinhardt added 20 in the Patriots’ 71-63 win over Santiago of Corona in the championship game Wednesday. Reinhardt and Kai Weissberger were all-tournament selections.

• Esperanza boys basketball 6-6 junior Kezie Okpala is averaging 23 points a game. The team is averaging 59 points a game.

After Foothill beat Esperanza, 47-46, in the Orange Holiday Classic championship game Wednesday, Foothill’s Lucas Araujo said this about Okpala: “He’s so long and so quick, there’s not much you can do against him.”

• Esperanza will get some scoring help when 6-5 sophomore forward Brendan Harrick, who transferred from Servite, is eligible next week.

Harrick is among many winter sports athletes who did not make the change of residence that would have made them athletically eligible at the start of the winter sports season. Transferred student-athletes who did not make the residence change must sit out the first 30 days of their sport’s season to become eligible.

• Earlier this week, it was published here that Servite basketball players Kamon Fleming and Otis Reale would become eligible when the 30-day sit-out period expires Monday. Fleming transferred from Lemoore High, Reale moved here from Rome. To clarify, because Fleming moved from his mother’s home to his father’s home in Buena Park and Reale moved from Rome but his family remained there, neither made the change of residence as defined by CIF.

• Servite wrestling verified its status as the county’s top-ranked team by winning the Sierra Nevada Classic this week. Liam Cronin, No. 1 in the county at 113 pounds, was named tournament outstanding wrestler.

County football defensive player of the year Jed Smith of Mater Dei is No. 1 in the county wrestling rankings at 182 pounds.

Santa Ana wrestling has its usual depth. The Saints have wrestlers ranked in the county top 5 in eight of the 14 weight classes. Santa Ana’s Adam Maldonado is No. 1 at 120 pounds.

• Servite football junior cornerback Keith Taylor committed to Washington. He is the first county football player from the graduating class of 2017 to announce a commitment.

• Mission Viejo senior quarterback Brock Johnson, the Register's county offensive player of the year, has scheduled his first recruiting trip. He will visit Georgetown.

• La Habra senior All-County first-team quarterback Eric Barriere will visit Eastern Washington on Jan. 8. Barriere has offers from Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.

• Recent football commitments: Sunny Hills defensive back Malcolm Dixon, to Yale; and JSerra defensive back Conor O’Brien, Penn.

• Selecting All-County teams is the most difficult part of this job. Every year in every sport, there is at least one athlete we wished we could have somehow added to an All-County team. For me in this season’s All-County football team selections that player was Corona del Mar quarterback Chase Garbers.

Howard Isom, Ocean View’s football head coach froom 1990-93, died in late November. Services are Jan. 9 at noon, at Pierce Brothers Crestline Mortuary in Riverside. Isom played on the first Golden West College football team.

• The baseball season starts Feb. 27. Something of a season preview will be the Sunset vs. Trinity League Challenge, Feb. 6-17. The schedule: Santa Margarita vs. Huntington Beach at Canyon, Feb. 6; Mater Dei at Los Alamitos, Feb. 6; Marina at Servite, Feb. 13; St. John Bosco at Newport Harbor, Feb. 13; Edison at JSerra, Feb. 17; and Fountain Valley vs. Orange Lutheran at Hart Park, Feb. 17.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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