Carson linebacker Arnold Ale was crying when he answered the phone Wednesday morning. Not tears of joy. He was relieved, and perhaps a bit confused, about football recruiting.
"They were the worst days of my life," he said. "It's just so much pressure to go to one school. There have been so many people calling and upsetting me, people I've never seen before coming to my house."
Ale put an end to the nuisance by signing a letter of intent with Notre Dame on the first day prep seniors could commit to a college.
The 6-4 prep All-American, who weighed 210 pounds before he took his final recruiting trip to USC last weekend, discovered he had lost five pounds when he got on the scales Wednesday.
"I've had a hard time eating the last couple of days," he said. "I didn't eat last night."
Ale had narrowed his choices to Notre Dame and USC before deciding on the Fighting Irish. He said he made up his mind Tuesday night but not without debate with his family.
Asked how difficult it was to turn down USC, Ale replied, "Very tough."
"I did what my family wanted, what my parents wanted," he said. "What my parents want is what I want.
"Notre Dame has a great football tradition and excellent academics. And the exposure at Notre Dame is something you can't get anywhere else."
Ale plans to lift weights all summer in hope of bulking up to 225 when he arrives at Notre Dame.
Ale's cousin, Banning defensive lineman Titus Tuiasosopo, signed with USC despite growing up as a UCLA fan. Cousin Manu Tuiasosopo was a standout lineman for the Bruins.
"I always liked UCLA when I was young, but I think USC is the best place for me," Titus said. "I don't want to play in the shadows of anyone. I figure I can make a name for Titus Tuiasosopo at USC."
The 6-3, 240-pound senior chose the Trojans over San Diego State. He said one of the deciding factors was the proximity of the Coliseum. His older brother, Navy Tuiasosopo, played at Utah State.
"My parents used to drive up to San Jose State to watch him play," Titus said. "Now they have a simple ride to the Coliseum."
Where would Rolling Hills' basketball team be without the three-point shot?
"We certainly wouldn't be in first place," said Coach Cliff Warren. "It's probably won five games for us."
Few high school teams have taken advantage of the first-year rule more than the Titans. Through last week, they had made nearly as high a percentage of three-point shots (117 of 280, 42%) as they had from inside the 19-foot, 9-inch arc (423 of 893, 47%).
Guards Mark Tesar, Steve Clover and Ron Dinnel had combined for all but one of the three-pointers--forward Charlie Abbott accounted for the other--to give Rolling Hills three of the South Bay's most prolific outside shooters.
Tesar and Clover had more three-pointers than two-pointers through last week, with Tesar leading the Titans with 47 and Clover second with 39. Dinnel, the team's sixth man, had 30 three-pointers.
Rolling Hills' dependency on the three-point shot was obvious in last week's 80-76 Bay League win over West Torrance. The Titans, who moved into first place, scored nearly half of their points (39) on three-point shots.
The three-pointer has also opened up the inside for center John Hardy, the team's scoring leader.
"They're shots we'd probably be taking anyway," Warren said. "But we'd be getting fewer points."
And fewer victories.
Rolling Hills clinched its second consecutive Bay League title Tuesday with help from rival Palos Verdes.
Rolling Hills routed South Torrance, 71-39, while Palos Verdes upset second-place West Torrance, 84-65. The decisions left Rolling Hills (18-5 overall, 8-1 in league) with a two-game lead over Palos Verdes and West with one game left.
Palos Verdes (16-7, 6-3) will play host to Rolling Hills at 7:30 tonight in a league finale. The Sea Kings clinched a playoff spot when North Torrance beat Torrance, 39-37, Tuesday.
Scott Cathcart, public relations director of the CIF Southern Section, says the at-large berth for the 5-A basketball playoffs will most likely be filled by the fourth-place team from the Angelus League, either St. Bernard or St. Paul.
"Right now you'd have to look at that fourth-place team to come out of the Angelus League," he said. "I don't think there's any league as strong."
Four of the seven top-ranked teams in the 5-A are in the Angelus League--No. 1 Bishop Amat, No. 4 Mater Dei, No. 6 St. Paul and No. 7 St. Bernard.
Third-place St. Paul (15-6 overall, 5-3 in league) and fourth-place St. Bernard (16-7, 4-4), which met Wednesday night, will finish the season with better than .500 records against quality competition.
The top three finishers in each of the 5-A's five leagues are guaranteed playoff spots. The at-large berth is granted to fill out a 16-team bracket.
Cathcart said the at-large team will probably be matched against a league champion in the first round of the playoffs.