Category Archives: High School Sports

Coverage of High School Sports in the Stockton, California area.

Countdown to Tipoff: Boys No. 1, Junior Ballard

San Joaquin County basketball fans learned the name “Junior Ballard” on Jan. 25. Ballard, then a sophomore guard and forward on the Lathrop boys basketball team, dropped a school-record 51 points in a Valley Oak League win over Sierra: then the Sac-Joaquin Section’s defending Division III champion. Ballard wasn’t just a fluke. He was electric [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Girls No. 1, Aquira DeCosta

Aquira DeCosta isn’t just the player to watch in Stockton, San Joaquin County and Northern California. She might just be the signature high school player in the United States of America. Especially for her class. DeCosta, 6-foot-2 forward on the St. Mary’s girls basketball team, is the top-rated prospect for the Class of 2018 via [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Boys No. 2, Michael Hayes

Michael Hayes wasn’t a name on the media’s radar entering the 2015-16 boys basketball season in The Record’s coverage area. Yet the then-sophomore at West was electric, eventually splitting the Tri-City Athletic League MVP award with St. Mary’s guard Evan Madill (now at Cal Maritime Academy). Hayes, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound force, averaged 19 points and [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Girls No. 2, Loretta Kakala

Loretta Kakala, almost quietly, has made herself one of the most-sought after girls basketball recruits on the West Coast. The 6-foot-2 Manteca senior forward has a five-star rating, and is rated 97 out of 100 via ESPN.com. Kakala signed with Louisville women’s basketball earlier in November, and now, has the task of helping Manteca compete [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Boys No. 3, Andre Kelly

It’s hard to believe that Andre Kelly is still a junior in high school. Kelly has already had a fantastic varsity basketball career, without one game as an upperclassman. The 6-foot-8 forward on the Lincoln boys basketball team averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds as a sophomore, shooting 57 percent from the field. Kelly was [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Girls No. 3, Naje Murray

Naje Murray won’t be on the court as soon as she’d like, but can still be a deciding factor in just how far this year’s St. Mary’s girls basketball team goes. Murray, a senior guard for the Rams and returning first-team All-Area pick, tore her ACL in the offseason. Her recovery has gone faster than [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Boys No. 4, Tydus Verhoeven

Down the stretch, Tydus Verhoeven began finding his potential as a pensive, modern basketball player. Verhoeven, a 6-foot-8, incoming senior wing on the Manteca boys team, did everything right in the Buffaloes’ historic run to a CIF State Division III championship. The No. 1-ranked recruit for the Class of 2017 on NorCalPreps.com had tremendous court [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Girls No. 4, Zahria Hendrix

You can’t teach many of the things that make Zahria Hendrix a great basketball player. Hendrix, a senior guard for the Lincoln girls hoops team, is superb in transition: whether it be creating a turnover on defense or slashing to the basket and scoring on offense. Not to mention, she’s excellent in a halfcourt offense, [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Girls No. 5, Ariel Johnson

Ariel Johnson could very well be higher on this list before the season’s over. Johnson, an incoming junior guard for the St. Mary’s girls basketball team, has remarkable control on offensive, driving to the basket and making plays in the open court for the press-happy Rams. It’s a fun time to be a Rams fan, [...]

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Countdown to Tipoff: Boys No. 5, Ephraim Estell

Ephraim Estell is what modern basketball is all about. Estell is tall, fast, strong and with the ability to throw down or cinematic dunk or hit a deep jumper if need be. The 6-foot-6, now-senior averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists as West finished third in the Tri-City Athletic League and advanced to [...]

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  • Blog Authors

    Bob Highfill

    Bob Highfill has been with The Record sports department since 1990. He started as a part-time reporter/agate clerk then covered the high school sports beat before taking on the Pacific athletics beat. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob was ... Read Full

    Scott Linesburgh

    Linesburgh has been a member of The Record's sports department since 1988. A native of Wantagh, N.Y., he covers the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, and has spent more than a quarter century reporting various other sports on the high ... Read Full

    Thomas Lawrence

    Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full
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