Los Angeles Times

The best sports stories of the year? Look no further

Bill Plaschke was honored as one of the nation’s top columnists (all L.A. Times efforts were judged in the largest-circulation category, 250,000+). He placed fifth for a body of work that included: Soccer team helps Westmont College rise from ashes: The story of a college soccer program holding together a community that was all but wiped out by a wildfire. more

Big week ahead in high school basketball

It’s an exciting week for high school basketball fans, with lots of rivalry games and battles for first place in league. It starts Wednesday, with No. 12-ranked Sonora playing at La Habra in the Freeway League, with high scoring Jordan Sachs of La Habra trying to help his team pull off the upset. Sachs, headed to Westmont College, is averaging 28.0 points a game. Also on Wednesday, Taft plays at Cleveland in the City Section, Loyola is at Crespi, Long Beach Poly is at Long Beach Jordan and Capistrano Valley is at Tesoro. more

Rain, snow, cold hit Southern California

Rain and snow battered Southern California this morning, triggering evacuation orders in Orange County burn areas, collapsing the roof of an adult education center in Anhaeim and causing two fatal traffic accidents, including one involving a Californiia Highway Patrol officer on the Pomona Freeway. In Santa Barbara County, a mudslide was reported about 6 a.m. in the burn areas around Montecito near Westmont College, said Steven Van Horn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. But there were no known injuries or damage reported, Van Horn said. more

Westmont College says its students not at fault

Westmont College, the 1,200-student Christian university that was damaged in last week’s disastrous Tea fire, announced Wednesday that none of its current students were involved in the incident that sparked the blaze. more

Bonfire built by students caused Montecito fire, sheriff says

A smoldering bonfire built by students on a ridge-top overlooking Montecito apparently sparked last week’s disastrous Tea fire, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday. Ten men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 22, had gathered at an abandoned property called the Teahouse late Wednesday night and built a bonfire to warm themselves, Brown said.Westmont College, a Christian university with 1,200 students, sits immediately below the mountain ridge where the Teahouse is located. But Brown would not confirm or deny that students from the private campus were involved. more

Soccer team helps Westmont College rise from ashes

The small college near Santa Barbara, devastated by last week’s Montecito fire, begins healing with help from upstart team’s 2-0 victory over defending NAIA champion Azusa Pacific. more

Westmont College emerges safe, but not unscathed

Reporting from Montecito — The Westmont College gym was itchy hot and getting hotter. Eye-burning smoke seeped inside, despite the blue duct tape covering the cracks between the double doors. As campus officials repeatedly assured about 800 students and faculty that this sturdy, cinder-block gym was the safest place to be, some evacuees formed prayer circles on the wooden floor. more

7 Christian bikers arrested in Orange County raid

Ronald Enroth, a sociology professor at Westmont College in Santa Barbara who featured Set Free in his 1992 book “Churches That Abuse,” said the group is a “control-centered, authoritarian organization” that has displayed cult-like behavior, even as it cozied up to mainstream evangelical groups and Aguilar appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network programs. more

TBN’s promise: send money and see riches

Pastor Paul Crouch calls it “God’s economy of giving,” and here is how it works: People who donate to Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network will reap financial blessings from a grateful God. The more they give TBN, the more he will give them. …Michael Giuliano, an expert in televangelism at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, said this is an effective strategy. more