Still Rolling: St. Mary’s Girls Dismantle Davis in Div. I semis

St. Mary’s girls basketball (29-1) hasn’t been beaten by a California-based team this season. And the No. 1 Rams hammered fourth-seeded Davis Sr. 86-48 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal Tuesday at Spanos Center.

St. Mary’s moves on to play No. 3 Sacramento-McClatchy — which has former Brookside Christian coach Que Ngo as an assistant — in the Div. I championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Freshman Aquira DeCosta paced St. Mary’s with 16 points as one of five Rams in double figures, and added six rebounds. Junior Angel Johnson added 13 points, senior Carlissa Shipp posted 11 points off the bench, and junior Kat Tudor and sophomore Naje Murray added 11 each.

Murray was in the starting lineup in lieu of junior guard Mi’Cole Cayton, who injured her elbow in the quarterfinal win over Sacramento-St. Francis, is out for this week’s games and questionable for the state playoffs.


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Gameday Preview: Weston Ranch-Manteca

The Sac-Joaquin Section basketball semifinals are exciting enough. But when two rivals from the some area and the same league are involved? That’s money.

No. 9 Weston Ranch, a 63-52 upset winner over top-seeded Sacramento-Christian Brothers Friday, battles fifth-seeded Manteca in a Div. III semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today at Cosumnes River College.

Weston Ranch hasn’t won a section title in its history, while Manteca hasn’t won since 1987. Ironically, that was in the spring, and Buffaloes coach Brett Lewis was born in the summer of 1987. So he hasn’t seen a Manteca title in his lifetime, either.

Here’s a look at both teams’ starting lineups:


G – No. 3 Jaelen Ragsdale (5-10, Jr.)

G – No. 4 Josh Dilg (5-10, Jr.)

G – No. 10 Tre Simmons (5-10, So.)

G – No. 13 Fred Lavender (6-1, Jr.)

F – No. 15 Jordan Tauga (6-0, Sr.)

Head Coach: Chris Teevan (3rd year, 54-35)

MANTECA (22-6)

G – No. 5 Angel Perez (5-10, Jr.)

G – No. 24 Marcus Montano (5-11, Sr.)

G – No. 10 Tydus Verhoeven (6-7, So.)

F – No. 20 Tyler Graves-Kelso (5-10, Jr.)

F – No. 33 Anand Hundal (6-8, Jr.)

Head Coach: Brett Lewis (1st year, 22-6)


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Four Storylines: Sac-Joaquin Section Basketball Quarterfinals

Weston Ranch junior Jaelen Ragsdale (center) rises up against CV Wednesday in Ceres. Ragsdale led the Cougars with 20 points in the Division III playoff win. (PHOTO FROM THE MANTECA BULLETIN)

The Sac-Joaquin Section basketball quarterfinals are tonight for girls and Friday for boys, and have plenty of storylines to watch. I’ve picked four of them for teams in The Record’s coverage area, and here they are:


For several area teams, and anybody in the section, for that matter, the quarterfinals are paramount. That’s because a win and berth into the semifinals locks up an automatic CIF NorCal playoff bid. Those state playoffs start Wednesday, March 11, and culminate with the NorCal finals March 21 in Sacramento and the CIF State finals March 28 in Berkeley.

So, this week, St. Mary’s, Lincoln, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Brookside Christian, VA Excel, Ripon Christian and Millennium girls, and St. Mary’s, Weston Ranch, Manteca, Sierra, Brookside Christian and Ripon Christian boys have a shot to do it.


Brookside Christian certainly earned its No. 2 seed in Div. V, with another outright Central California Athletic Alliance championship, but could have a tough placement.

Bradshaw Christian is ranked seventh, and from what I’ve heard has come on strong late in the year, and will not be an easy out.

The Knights need career mainstays Kameron Vales and Kenyon Williams to shine, as well as Bay Area transfer Derek Burgess.


Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan told The Modesto Bee Wednesday, after his team’s 65-53 road win over Ceres-Central Valley, in which it closed the game on a 12-0 run, that toughness and defense win games this time of year, and must travel on the road.

The No. 9 Cougars must embrace that again, heading to No. 1 Christian Brothers for Friday’s Div. III quarters.


The Lincoln girls may have gotten one of the raw-est deals in playoff seeding, No. 5 in Div. I after NorCalPreps had them No. 5 in the region for Div. I — including the Bay Area sections and the Northern Section. If Lincoln beats No. 4 Davis Sr. on the road tonight, it draws a likely semifinal with rival and No. 1 St. Mary’s at Pacific’s Spanos Center Tuesday.


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Girls Basketball Weekly MVP: Donwanae Anthony

Kimball's Donwanae Anthony (left) works through traffic during her freshman season. (RECORD FILE PHOTO)

It would’ve been easy for Kimball girls basketball to slip without a key player.

Though forward Raziya Potter is a freshman, she’s a double-double waiting to happen and a key reason why Kimball went 27-0 overall, 14-0 in the Valley Oak League and earned the No. 3 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.

So when she missed the Jaguars’ regular season finale with the flu, and it was on the road at Weston Ranch, the second-best team in the VOL, it seemed like a potential place for the unblemished mark to fall.

But, leaders like Donwanae Anthony said not so fast.

Anthony scored a game-high 20 points for Kimball, as the sophomore forward not only thrived in the paint, but was quick enough to torch Weston Ranch on fastbreak baskets. Seniors Allison Schmidt (16 points) and Sarah Nunes (10 points) were key as well, but Anthony, for stepping up to close the unbeaten regular season, is my latest Girls Basketball Weekly MVP.

It’s been quite a journey for Kimball, which had a 1-26 inaugural season in 2010-11. Read my story on the Jaguars by clicking here.

Congratulations, Donwanae, and as always, thanks for reading, everybody.


Jan. 5-10: Brijanee Moore (Weston Ranch, Sr.)

Jan. 12-17: Raziya Potter (Kimball, Fr.)

Jan. 19-24: Aarion McDonald (Brookside Christian, Jr.)

Jan. 26-31: Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s, Fr.)

Feb. 2-7: Vantajia Warren (Edison, So.)

Feb. 9-14: Precious Younger (Bear Creek, Jr.)

Feb. 16-21: Donwanae Anthony (Kimball, So.)


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Boys Basketball Weekly MVP: L.J. Reed and Tommy Williams

Tokay senior L.J. Reed looks to the hoop at Lincoln. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

Tokay and Chavez boys basketball both had a Friday night to remember.

In Sac-Joaquin Section Division I play-in games, the No. 16 Tigers rode the momentum from their postseason-clinching, regular-season finale win over rival Lodi, shutting out Enochs in the fourth quarter in a 51-34 win. And Chavez, playing for fallen teammate Alvin Joiner, who died in a Jan. 24 car accident, won the first playoff game in school history, 68-62 over Merced.

And senior L.J. Reed and junior Tommy Williams were clutch for Tokay and Chavez, respectively.

Reed was the eclectic leader he always is, posting 12 points and seven assists to power the Tigers’ offense. Williams was heroic off the bench, as the sharpshootingguard scored a team-high 15 points, via five 3-pointers, with leaders Lewis Hayes and Justice Harris missing for big chunks of the game with foul trouble.

That’s why Reed and Williams are my first-ever co-Boys Basketball Weekly MVPs.

Hayes, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior, called the 5-6, 130-pound Williams the heart and soul of the Titans because of his pride, and the way he plays — embracing his physical stature in a game that blindly calls for height. Reed, who was an All-Metro basketball pick for The Sacramento Bee last year, could be a dominant scorer, but proved once again he has to be more LeBron James than Kobe Bryant for Tokay to succeed.

Congratulations L.J. and Tommy, and as always, thanks for reading, everybody.


Jan. 5-10: Anand Hundal (Manteca, Jr.)

Jan. 12-17: Robin Hong (Lincoln, Sr.)

Jan. 19-24: Druce Asah (Tracy, Sr.)

Jan. 26-31: Joshua Patton (Sierra, Sr.)

Feb. 2-7: Devin Williams (St. Mary’s, Sr.)

Feb. 9-14: Lewis Hayes (Chavez, Sr.)

Feb. 16-21: L.J. Reed (Tokay, Sr.) and Tommy Williams (Chavez, Jr.)


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Escalon’s Laugero commits to Santa Clara volleyball

Taylor Laugero gets to have a San Joaquin County homecoming every year when she goes off to play college volleyball in 2016. But that’s not why she made her decision.

Laugero, an Escalon junior, verbally committed to Santa Clara volleyball this past week, and will be in the West Coast Conference with Pacific. She likes the region, and her family history with the school.”

“I’ve always wanted to be in the Bay Area, I wanted to stay in California,” said Laugero, who will be a libero for the Broncos. “That was a pull for me because I really like the Santa Clara area.”

Laugero’s club coach called Santa Clara recently, and they saw her play at a club volleyball tournament.

“I went on a visit and I fell in love with the campus, the team, the coaches, just everything,” Laugero said.

“And also my Dad went there, so he was really excited for me going to visit there as well. We had a meeting, my parents and I with the coaches, and they offered, and I accepted.”

Laugero was a first-team All-Area selection this season as a utility player. This year, Laugero did a bit of everything, with 95 kills, 95 aces, 272 digs and most importantly, 775 assists as the Cougars’ setter.


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All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year Watchlist

St. Mary's point guard Sierra Smith (right) dribbles against El Dorado Hills-Oak Ridge in by u1506" href="#">last year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

SIERRA SMITH (St. Mary’s PG, So.)

It’s amazing to think that Smith, the No. 32-rated prospect in her by u1506″ href=”#”>class nationally, has been 13 years old this season. Her court vision is impeccable, and she can score at will when she wants to. Smith averages five points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals, but is way more valuable than that.

St. Mary's Mi'Cole Cayton (21) dribbles the ball against Modesto Christian. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

MI’COLE CAYTON (St. Mary’s G, Jr.)

Cayton does it all for the Rams. She averages 12 points and three steals, and has a flair for the dramatic play. She’s the epitome of what makes St. Mary’s so dangerous. Cayton specializes in driving to the basket, but can by u1506″ href=”#”>step outside or be a defensive menace.

Lincoln's Zahria Hendrix (left) fights for a rebound during her freshman year. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)


Hendrix doesn’t look like a sophomore. She’s a double-double waiting to happen, and a huge reason why Lincoln is much better than its No. 5 seed in the Div. I playoffs. If I was No. 4 Davis, Lincoln’s potential quarterfinal opponent, I’d be upset about my placement in the bracket.


Pharms is under 6 feet tall but has had gigantic scoring and rebounding games this year. Her season is finished since Stagg did not qualify for the section playoffs.


AARION MCDONALD (Brookside Christian G, Jr.)

The most unexpected thing the first time I saw Brookside Christian play as that McDonald was a point guard. Considering she has four triple-doubles this year, and has approached multiple others, it’s vastly impressive. McDonald is dynamic. She drains 3s, steals as well as anyone in the area and drives to the basket with the ferocity of a 6-foot college player. There’s a reason why she’s a University of Washington commit.

Kimball's Donwanae Anthony (left) works through traffic during her freshman season. (RECORD FILE PHOTO)


Anthony plays with the confidence and the footwork of a senior in the post for the Jaguars, who are unbeaten at 27-0 as the No. 3 seed in the Div. II bracket. She and freshman Raziya Potter must be on-point every game if the Jaguars want to make a section championship run.

RA’KYRA GABRIEL (Brookside Christian F, Sr.)

While McDonald receives most of the headlines for the Knights, Gabriel has been a four-year varsity standout, and has over 1,300 career points.

KAT TUDOR (St. Mary’s G, Jr.)

Tudor has steadily improved over the course of the year, and leads the No. 4-rated team in the nation by ESPN with 13.4 points per game. She’s also shooting an incredible 44 percent from 3-point land, and that’s from someone who’s put up 185 attempts this year. Tudor averages between three and four 3s per game.


Younger does everything for the San Joaquin Athletic Association-champion Bruins. She scores, rebounds, assists, blocks and runs the floor. Bear Creek got a tough 15th seed in the Div. I bracket, though.

AQUIRA DECOSTA (St. Mary’s F, Fr.)

DeCosta’s statistics, 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists per game don’t even represent the kind of matchup nightmares the 6-2 freshman creates. St. Mary’s is built on full-court press and guard play, so having a nationally-heralded post player, who can also run the floor, makes the Rams nearly unbeatable.


Alexander is one of the most confident shooters in the area, and isn’t shy about crashing the boards, either. She’ll need to put up huge double-doubles as Weston Ranch embarks into the Div. III playoffs as the No. 5 seed.


Raziya Potter, Kimball

Anmarie Freiermuth, Lodi

Naje Murray, St. Mary’s

Olivia Vezaldenos, East Union

Loretta Kakala, Manteca

Lianna Tillman, Lincoln

Jazlyn Maletino-Faga, VA Excel

Breeana Grigsby, Lincoln


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All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year Watchlist

Sierra's Josh Patton goes up for a dunk against Bear Creek at the Lincoln tournament (CRAIG SANDERS/THE RECORD)


Patton has been a heavy hitter as an All-Area Player of the Year candidate since the beginning of the year, and has gone out and proved it. Sierra doesn’t post stats online, but he’s a consistent double-double type guy, who can absolutely take over a game.

Case and point: His 16-point, 21-rebound, six-block performance in a 53-51 home win over Weston Ranch in January. He had 13 second-half offensive boards in that game. Jeez.

St. Mary's point guard Devin Williams (left) rises up during his team's lopsided win at Tracy Feb. 6. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)


Williams has been the heartbeat of the Rams down the stretch. He can take over a game in many ways, with scoring, with his assists and with his opportunistic defense. Williams averages 11 points, four rebounds and three assists, but that’s deceiving.

Weston Ranch's Jaelen Ragsdale (center) goes up for a shot against Sierra during his sophomore year. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

JAELEN RAGSDALE (Weston Ranch G, Jr.)

Ragsdale is posting 21 points and three assists per game for the Cougars, who could be a bear of a No. 9 seed in the Div. III bracket. He can take over a game late, leading Weston Ranch’s full-court press and hitting acrobatic, improbable runners and layups.

This is a young team, so while we’re getting a taste of what it can be, 2015-16 might be the section championship run. Same goes for Manteca.

Bear Creek's Andre Green (right) rises up for a shot in the McDonald's Classic. (CRAIG SANDERS/SPECIAL TO THE RECORD)

ANDRE GREEN (Bear Creek G, Sr.)

Green and the Bruins stumbled a bit late in their co-San Joaquin Athletic Association title run, but he’s had a phenomenal senior year. The Bear Creek guard is putting up 21 points and five rebounds per game, shooting 57 percent from two-point range.

Druce Asah, a senior for Tracy boys basketball, hit a game-winning 3-pointer against St. Mary's in January. (PHOTO BY WAYNE THALLANDER)

DRUCE ASAH (Tracy G, Sr.)

Asah has powered the Bulldogs to the Div. I playoffs, and his most memorable moment was a game-winning 3-pointer at St. Mary’s. The Cal State East Bay (NCAA D-II) commit averaged 20 points and five boards, via Tracy’s limited stats on MaxPreps.

Tokay senior L.J. Reed looks to the hoop at Lincoln. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

L.J. REED (Tokay G/F, Sr.)

Reed, who began playing after his January transfer sitout period, has been sharp for the Tigers, pouring out 14 points, six rebounds and five assists per game. He’s a UCLA football commit, but if he wanted to, could be playing college basketball, too.

Chavez boys basketball's Lewis Hayes (top) rises to shoot at Tracy last season. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

LEWIS HAYES (Chavez F, Sr.)

Hayes, the Titans’ 6-foot-5 senior, has been big-time, averaging 18 points and nine boards. In Chavez’s co-SJAA-title clinching win over Stagg on senior night, he had a whopping 41 points and 15 rebounds. He and the Titans are a dangerous sleeper as the No. 14 seed in the Div. I bracket. If Chavez beats No. 19 Merced tonight, No. 3 Roseville-Woodcreek should not take them lightly.

Manteca junior Anand Hundal (left) nearly had triple-doubles twice in VOL's opening week. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MANTECA BULLETIN)

ANAND HUNDAL (Manteca F/C, Jr.)

Hundal may still be a year away from realizing his full potential, but what he’s found already has been vastly impressive. The 6-8 junior is a shot-blocking machine, among the best in the state with 150 blocked shots, and 5.8 per game. He’s also averaging 14 points and nine rebounds, and has a soft touch on mid-range jumpers.

Sierra senior Hunter Johnson (right) competes at Manteca during his junior year. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)


Patton gets much of the Sierra limelight, but Johnson is the Timberwolves’  most versatile player. He can be a banger in the paint, focusing on rebounds, or utilize his 3-point stroke to put Sierra over the top.

St. Mary's senior Lance Coleman goes for a dunk at home at Morelli Gymnasium. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MAXPREPS).

LANCE COLEMAN II (St. Mary’s G/F, Sr.)

Coleman II is a nightmarish matchup for opposing defenses. He’s 6-foot-8 but has the skill set of both a guard and forward. He averages 20 points and nine boards per game, and if he and Williams are clicking, St. Mary’s could be headed to Sleep Train Arena for at least the Div. II semifinals, if not the finals.

NOTE: This list is just a handful of players who are candidates for our All-Area Player of the Year award, and they are listed in no particular order.


Robin Hong, Lincoln

Nico Brusa, Tokay

Sean Broker, Ripon Christian

Justice Harris, Chavez

Kameron Vales, Brookside Christian

Peter Van Katwyk, Kimball

Brandon Moss, Bear Creek

Brody Nutting, Lodi

Elijah Tuando, West

Kharyem Watson, Tracy


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Divisionals Week: California Wrestler Top 40 Rankings

McNair junior Roman Romero is ranked ninth in the state by The California Wrestler in the 182-pound class. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CARYN ROMERO).

The Sac-Joaquin Section divisional wrestling finals are Friday and Saturday, including Division I A at McNair.

Next weekend, Stockton Arena hosts the Masters Feb. 27-28.

And McNair’s Roman Romero is still the top-ranked local wrestler. The junior is up to seventh in the 182-pound class in the latest California Wrestler Top 40 state rankings, and he’s No. 1 in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Here’s a look at all of the area wrestlers in the top 40:

106: West sophomore Greg Viloria, the TCAL 106 champion, is 18th.

113: St. Mary’s senior Kieran Deal is 23rd.

113: Lincoln senior Jerle Garcia is 33rd.

113: Escalon junior Kyle Jimenez is 34th.

120: Lathrop junior Alex Garcia is 26th.

120: Lincoln senior Alex Olivera is 27th.

138: Kimball senior Reese Chew is 13th.

182: McNair junior Roman Romero is 7th.

182: Escalon senior Matthew Gallego is 22nd.

195: Lincoln senior Yates Hunter, the TCAL champion, is 11th.

195: Escalon senior A.J. Camarena is 32nd.

220: Tokay junior K.C. Kranich is 33rd.

220: Calaveras junior Shane Torre is 40th.

285: Ripon junior Tristan Smith is 25th.

285: Calaveras senior Jarred Kirk is 27th.

285: Tokay senior Clint Schallberger is 40th.


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Thunder super fan and coach-for-a-day Tucker Larson passes away

Some sad news for the Thunder faithful.

Tucker Larson has lost his long battle with cancer and passed away Friday at the age of 25. Larson, who was given six months to live in the Spring of 2012, enjoyed life as long as he could, and one of his biggest thrills was the Thunder.

During the 2012-13 season, former Thunder coach Matt Thomas heard about Tucker’s situation and and invited him to meet the team. He then took the unprecedented step of making him an assistant coach for the day which allowed Tucker to stand behind the bench and offer encouragement to the players.

He told me it meant a lot to him, and it was equally important to Thomas and the players to meet such an inspirational young man.

A memorial will be held 2 p.m. Sunday at the Stockton Hilton, located at 2323 Grand Canal Blvd. in Stockton. The event is open to the public..

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    Bob Highfill has worked in The Record's sports department since 1990. He has covered a variety of sports, including high schools, Pacific and professional sports. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob is a graduate of Lincoln High and the ... Read Full

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