GOLF: Sam Saunders (-7) is the leader after 18 holes in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. BASEBALL: The Pali High alumni game is Saturday at 6 p.m. at George Robert Field. GIRLS WATER POLO: Pali High plays Eagle Rock for the City championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Vally College. WRESTLING: Pali High competes in the City finals Friday and Saturday at Roybal. BOYS BASKETBALL: Pali High defeated Chatsworth 56-53 in the first round of the City Division I playoffs and hosts league rival Hamilton in the quarterfinals Feb. 21. GIRLS BASKETBALL: Pali High is seeded No. 2 in the City Open Division playoffs and hosts No. 7 Narbonne in the quarterfinals Saturday.

Pali Sports Extra

Pali High Volleyball Spikes Santa Monica

Palisades’ Akhil Tangutur (#10) and Flaviano Winther (#12) reject a Santa Monica attack in their four-set win. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Akhil Tangutur (#10) and Flaviano Winther (#12) reject a Santa Monica attack in the Dolphins’ four-set win. / Photo: Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Bragging rights were on the line for the Palisades High boys volleyball team in last Wednesday’s intersectional match against crosstown rival Santa Monica and the visiting Dolphins proved to be up to the challenge, prevailing 25-17, 30-28, 24-26, 25-22.

Miles Partain ended the opening set with a down-the-line kill and Palisades took a 24-21 lead in the second set before the Vikings rallied to surge ahead, 25-24. Flaviano Winther’s block tied it and the Dolphins eventually took a two-set lead on a hit wide. Santa Monica took a 20-18 lead in the third set. Palisades rallied on the serving of Akhil Tangutur and the hitting of Scott Stuart but the Vikings won it. 

The Dolphins closed it out in four on Tangutur’s emphatic kill.

“The teams in our league that aren’t in our wheelhouse so it’s nice to face an opponent like this,” Stuart said. “I play with or against all their guys. There was lots of talk back and forth on social media.”

Palisades is entered in the Redondo Power Classic this weekend.   

Pali High Boys Volleyball Sweeps Venice

Junior middle blocker Flaviano goes on the attack in Monday’s match at Venice. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Junior middle blocker Flaviano goes on the attack in Monday’s match at Venice. / Photo: Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Even without starters Akhil Tangutur and Justin Howard, both sidelined with ankle injuries, the Palisades High boys volleyball team kept right on rolling Monday at archrival Venice.

The Dolphins swept, 25-11, 25-12, 25-16, to improve to 27-2 overall and 6-0 in Western League play. Palisades has defeated the Gondoliers seven straight times since a three-set league loss in 2014.

Entering Wednesday’s match against Hamilton, the Dolphins had not given up more than 18 points in any set to a league opponent. They are ranked No. 1 in the City Section after winning the Redondo and Venice tournaments and making the Dos Pueblos Invitational semifinals.

Stuart Twins Are Proud to Be Dolphins

Jeff Stuart (left) plays libero and twin brother Scott is an outside hitter for the Palisades High boys volleyball team. Photos: Steve Galluzzo

Jeff Stuart (left) plays libero and twin brother Scott is an outside hitter for the Palisades High boys volleyball team. / Photo: Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

There’s truly no place like home for Jeff and Scott Stuart.

The fraternal twins live a few blocks from Palisades High and are happy they decided to play volleyball for their neighborhood school. The Dolphins’ varsity is off to one of its fastest starts ever thanks in large part to the junior siblings, who are different off the court but have chemistry on it.

Palisades has won 24 of 26 matches so far and established itself as the favorite to win the City Section title by winning the Gold Division at the Redondo Preseason Classic and taking first place at the Venice Invitational.

The Stuarts attended Calvary Christian from preschool through 8th grade. They played for the Pacific Palisades Volleyball Club’s 14-and-under team under Coach Carlos Gray, who also heads the  Pali High program.

“Most of our friends [from middle school] went to Loyola but we really wanted to play for Carlos since we learned the game from him,” said Jeff, a libero and one of the Dolphins’ captains. “I started as an outside hitter but one day Carlos stuck me at libero and it’s been my position ever since. I like it because I get to talk and that first pass has a huge emphasis on how the game goes.”

Jeff, the older brother by two minutes, wanted to try out for baseball at Pali High but suffered a shoulder injury and chose volleyball instead. Both played in the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association. Jeff was a pitcher and Scott a catcher when they won back-to-back World Series in the Mustang Division with the Cardinals and Phillies. They grew up playing a variety of sports in the front yard with their older brother J.D., who is now a sophomore at the University of Oregon.

Scott plays outside hitter and enjoys the thrill of the kill.

“When I first started I tried swinging as hard as I could,” said Scott, who  plans to major in business, like his brother, but not necessarily at the same school. “I love being the player ending the point because everyone else reacts to what you do.”

The twins know each other’s tendencies and that cohesion  serves them well despite their opposite temperaments.

“We’ve matured and now we get along pretty well,” Jeff said. “Scott is more calm and doesn’t get angry while I’m more vocal, but we both really want to win.”

Scott’s favorite class is U.S. history while Jeff likes “anything but English.”

Dolphins Dig for Gold at Venice Tournament

Mason Mallory and Flaviano Winther block against Crossroads in the championship game of the Venice Invitational. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Mason Mallory and Flaviano Winther block against Crossroads in the championship game of the Venice Invitational. / Photo: Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

So far this season, the Palisades High boys volleyball team has resembled a tidal wave, washing over one opponent after another.

On Saturday, the Dolphins captured their second tournament title in two weeks, sweeping all eight of their matches and 16 consecutive sets to win the gold division at the Venice Invitational.

Co-captain Jeff Stuart, a junior libero, earned Most Valuable Player honors and freshman opposite hitter/setter Miles Partain made the All-Tournament team for the Dolphins, who defeated Crossroads, 25-12, 25-15, in the finals.

Most Valuable Player Jeff Stuart (left) and All-Tournament choice Miles Partain with their trophies. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Most Valuable Player Jeff Stuart (left) and All-Tournament choice Miles Partain with their trophies. / 
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Palisades began pool play Friday with victories over Cleveland, Kennedy and South Pasadena, then beat Marshall, Heritage Christian and Lancaster on Saturday to earn the No. 1 seed in the gold division.

After a first-round bye, the Dolphins downed Verdugo Hills, 25-10, 25-12, to set up a finals showdown against a Roadrunners squad coached by longtime Palisadian Mari Jo Deutschman and former Pali High player Lauren Joseph, who led the Dolphins to three City straight girls titles from 1997-99.

Palisades improved to 17-1 Monday with a sweep of Western League rival Venice and travels to UC Santa Barbara for the Dos Pueblos Invitational on Saturday.

Pali High Volleyball Captures Redondo Classic

Sophomore outside hitter Akhil Tangutur (left) was named MVP after leading Palisades to the tournament title. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Sophomore outside hitter Akhil Tangutur (left) was named MVP. / Photo: Steve Galluzzo

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

After watching his team squander several leads in its first match Friday at the Redondo Classic, Palisades High boy volleyball coach Carlos Gray reminded his players they still had a lot to play for.

“We can’t just have wins and losses and be okay,” Gray said following the Dolphins’ three-set loss to Calabasas. “It’s all about our level of play and we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

Palisades responded by winning its last six matches to win the Gold Division championship and establish itself as an early frontrunner for  the City Section title. The Dolphins swept Long Beach Millikan, 25-18, 25-16, then outlasted Notre Dame, 25-27, 25-22, 15-13 to finish second  in their pool Friday and earn a berth in the upper bracket Saturday. They  survived against Servite, 25-15, 19-25, 18-16, swept San Marcos and Orange Lutheran, then exacted revenge with a 25-17, 25-17 triumph over Calabasas in the finals.

Akhil Tangutur earned Most Valuable Player honors while Marcus Partain and Justin Howard also made the All-Tournament team.

Pali High Water Polo Back in City Final

Senior co-captain Jackie Au scored five goals to lead the Dolphins to the finals for the fourth time in five years. / Steve Galluzzo

Jackie Au scored five goals to lead the Dolphins to the finals for the fourth time in five years. / Steve Galluzzo

It was not easy, but the Palisades High girls water polo team advanced to its fourth City Section final in five years with a 15-10 semifinal victory over Granada Hills on Thursday at Maggie Gilbert Aquatic Center.

The fourth-seeded Highlanders (13-4) scored first, but Palisades led 7-4 at halftime and began the fourth quarter with a 13-5 lead.

Senior co-captain Jackie Au led the attack with five goals, Leighanne Estabrook and Clara Saab each scored four goals and Lilly Ramos scored twice for the top-seeded Dolphins (18-6), who will play for their first section championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at L.A. Valley College.

Palisades will face a familiar opponent in third-seeded Eagle Rock, which defeated the Dolphins in three successive finals (2013, 2014 and 2015) before falling to Birmingham, 8-6, in its bid for a fifth straight City crown last season.

The Eagles (15-2) exacted revenge on No. 2-seeded Birmingham 5-3 in Thursday’s other semifinal in Lake Balboa. Birmingham upset Palisades 13-7 in the semifinals last winter.

— STEVE GALLUZZO

Pali High Soccer Teams Net No. 2 Seeds

Palisades High’s boys and girls soccer teams earned No. 2 seeds in the City Section Division I playoffs and have first-round byes.

The defending champion boys squad will host the winner of Friday’s play-in game between No. 15 Arleta and No. 18 Hollywood in the second round next Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Stadium by the Sea. The quarterfinals are Feb. 24.

The Western League champion Dolphins (16-0) have scored 54 goals and allowed nine and have posted 10 shutouts.

West Valley League champion Granada Hills, which lost to Palisades 2-1 in the finals last year, is the No. 1 seed. West Valley runner-up El Camino Real is seeded No. 3, Southern League champion Marquez is No. 4, West Valley third-place finisher Birmingham is No. 5, Coliseum League winner Fremont is No. 6, Northern League champion Bell is No. 7 and Fairfax, runner-up to Palisades in the Western, is seeded No. 8.

The Pali High girls team is also seeded No. 2 and will host the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between No. 15 Arleta and No. 18 Sotomayor in the second round Saturday at 3 p.m. at Stadium by the Sea. The quarterfinals are Feb. 23.

The Western League champion Dolphins (13-1-2) have scored 63 goals, allowed seven and have posted 11 shutouts.

West Valley League champion El Camino Real, which tied Palisades 1-1 in a nonleague game Jan. 3, is the No. 1 seed. Marine League winner San Pedro is seeded No. 3, reigning City champion Taft is No. 4, Southern League winner Bravo is No. 5, West Valley third-place finisher Granada Hills is No. 6, West Valley fourth-place finisher Cleveland is No. 7 and Western runner-up LACES is No. 8.

The boys and girls finals are Saturday, March 4 at L.A. Valley College.

Pali High Girls Basketball Nets No. 2 Seed

The Palisades High girls basketball team is seeded No. 2 in the City Section Open Division playoffs and will host No. 7 Narbonne in the quarterfinals next Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Dolphins’ gym.

The Dolphins, back-to-back Open Division champions, tied for first place in the Western League with Fairfax, which is seeded No. 1 and hosts No. 8 Legacy in the quarterfinals.

Co-West Valley League champions El Camino Real and Granada Hills are seeded No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, Eagle Rock is No. 5 and Carson is No. 6.

Semifinals are Feb. 25 at Roybal and the finals and third-place game are March 4 are Cal State Dominguez Hills.

After finishing third in the Western League behind Fairfax and Westchester, the Pali High boys team is seeded fourth in the 16-team Division I bracket and hosts No. 13 Chatsworth in the first round Wednesday night (tip-off at 7).

If victorious, the Dolphins will host either Western League rival Hamilton (the No. 5 seed) or No. 12 Rancho Dominguez in the quarterfinals Friday, Feb. 21.

Coliseum League runner-up Crenshaw is the top seed, Fremont is No. 2 and Valley Mission League champion Sylmar is No. 3. University is No. 7, followed by View Park, Venice, South Gate, Granada Hills and Marshall.

Semifinals are Feb. 24 at Roybal and the championship game is March 4 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

— Steve Galluzzo

Milestone Man: Johnson Earns 200th Victory

Pali High Coach Torino Johnson joined the '200 Club' on Wednesday. / Steve Galluzzo

Pali High Coach Torino Johnson joined the 200 Club on Wednesday at Westchester. / Steve Galluzzo

It took three tries, but Palisades High girls basketball head coach Torino Johnson earned his 200th victory Wednesday night in the Dolphins’ 72-48 win at Western League rival Westchester.

“I’m very humbled… I can’t believe it finally happened,” Johnson said. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. I’m grateful and very excited for the future.”

In his 10th season at Palisades, Johnson has a 200-121 record, including a 91-28 league mark. He is 24-10 in postseason play and has led the Dolphins to four City Section titles, back-to-back Division II titles in 2011-12 and back-to-back Open Division titles in 2015-16. He is a three-time City Section Coach of the Year and was named Division I State Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports in April.

In Johnson’s first try at 200 last Friday, Palisades lost to Mater Dei 81-69 at the Nike Extravaganza in Santa Ana. His second opportunity came Monday on Senior Night, when the host Dolphins fell to Fairfax 64-59, ending their 38-game league winning streak.

Palisades (22-8 overall, 10-1 in league) is tied with Fairfax for first place in league and travels to LACES in its regular-season finale Friday.

— STEVE GALLUZZO

Pali High Boys Hoops Stunned by Hamilton

Chris Kurihara (right) drives past Venice’s Terrance Washington in Palisades’ 56-45 league victory last Monday. Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Chris Kurihara (right) drives past Venice’s Terrance Washington. / Steve Galluzzo

Having won three of its previous four games, including a 56-45 victory over archrival Venice, the Palisades High boys basketball team was riding high heading into Friday’s contest at Hamilton.

Palisades had defeated the Yankees by 13 points in the first round of Western League play two weeks earlier, but the rematch was a different story, as Hamilton overcame a 24-19 halftime deficit to shock the Dolphins, 56-52.

Palisades led by eight points after two quarters but was held to 10 points in the second half Monday in a 65-54 defeat at first-place Fairfax.

The Dolphins took on second-place Westchester on Wednesday and were outscored 21-2 in the third quarter of a 75-40 loss that dropped them to 6-5 in league play. Palisades will host LACES on Senior Night at 5:30 Friday.

— STEVE GALLUZZO

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