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Athletes of the i e

Banning resident, Derron Smith, drafted to the NFL

Derron Smith

Derron Smith

By Naomi K. Bonman

The NFL Draft took place this past weekend from Thursday, April 30 to Saturday, May 2. Young men from all across the Nation seen their dreams of playing for the NFL unfold before their eyes, including Banning resident and Fresno State alumni, Derron Smith, 23. Smith was included in the third day of draft picks where he was picked to join the Cincinnati Bengals as Starting Safety.

Smith finished his college football career with 297 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 33 passes defensed—15 of which he intercepted. He was also the 11th player in school history at Fresno State to be named to the all-conference team three times. Smith is the cousin to the editor of the Westside Story Newspaper, Naomi K. Bonman.


Young Athlete Spotlight: Randy Haley

Randy on the football field

Randy on the football field

Randy Haley on the track

Randy Haley on the track

MORENO VALLEY, CA-Randy Haley, 9, is a dual sport athlete. He runs track for the TJ Striders where he participates in running 100m, 200m, and 400m. His best times are 14.47 seconds (100m), 29.78 seconds (200m), and 108.74 (400m). His goal was to perfect his running time for football, but he ended up loving track and making it to the championships in all three events. He also plays football where he is the starting running back for the Moreno Valley Falcons. The best thing that Haley loves about sports is winning. His overall goal is to be a running back for University of Southern California (USC) or University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Player of the Year: ANY OKONKWO, Etiwanda (HS)

Amy Okonkwo of Etiwanda High School has been named to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's All-Valley Girl's Basketball First Team. Okonkwo is also the player of the year. Thomas Cordova/Staff photographer (Thomas R. Cordova)

Amy Okonkwo of Etiwanda High School has been named to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin’s All-Valley Girl’s Basketball First Team. Okonkwo is also the player of the year. Thomas Cordova/Staff photographer (Thomas R. Cordova)

What coaches appreciate most in their players is the ablity to rise to the occasion. Etiwanda High School’s Amy Okonkwo did just that every time out.

The 6-foot-1 junior forward scored a season-high 28 points in the Eagles’ 73-72 win over Mater Dei,

then ranked No. 1 in the nation, in the CIF Southern Section semifinal. Included in that point tally was a 3-pointer in overtime that gave her team a 67-64 lead it never relinquished.

She also registered 19 against Corona Santiago in the CIF championship game and 18 against Long Beach Poly in a state playoff loss.

Okonkwo, 16, is the Inland Valley Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

“She rose to the occasion time and time again against the better teams,” Etiwanda coach Anders Anderson says. “She isn’t cocky or

overconfident but she has an air of confidence about her. The other girls know she is going to deliver.”

Okonkwo, who is being recruited by a bevy of Division I schools, many of those Pac 12, averaged 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds her first year with the Eagles (28-4) after transferring from Baseline League rival Los Osos along with junior

Cherce Harris.

Sometimes moving into a new environment can be difficult but that didn’t prove to be the case, with Okonkwo already having played with most of the Etiwanda players in travel ball or at Day Creek Middle School.

“I really wasn’t that nervous about it because I already knew the girls,” she said. “They accepted me right away and made it easy.”

Anderson says the player’s demeanor was a factor in the smooth transition.

“She didn’t come in here with an attitude or telling us what she had done,” Anderson said. “She just wanted to do her part and help us

win. She fit in from the very start.”

Okonkwo, who plans to major in kinesiology, is preparing for the next level. Anderson says she needs to work on conditioning. Competing in track this spring helps. She is looking for a third straight league title in shot put.

Okonkwo also want to work on her ball-handling skills.

“In college I might have to be a guard,” she said. “I can’t just count on being tall because at that level everyone is pretty big. I want to be able to do whatever they want me to do.”

By Michelle Gardner, Staff Writer

Posted:   04/17/2013 07:00:00 PM PDT