Boys Basketball All-Area Player of the Year Watchlist

St. Mary's senior Lance Coleman II (left) rises up to block a shot against Modesto Christian in last Tuesday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. (CRAIG SANDERS/THE RECORD)

One of my favorite parts of The Record’s All-Area high school awards, is we’re not the MLB, NBA or NFL press. We most certainly include postseason performance and clutch moments into consideration. With that in mind, here’s my latest All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year Watchlist, focusing on a handful, and with a few more names to keep in mind.

These are not done in any particular order. Those who are more closely examined are still in the postseason. You’ll notice names that have been consistently on this list, and are now in the lower section. This is only a distinction from the teams in the playoffs, it’s not saying they’re out of the running.

Let’s take a look:

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

Coleman II is key, as always, as No. 4 St. Mary’s hosts No. 5 Dublin in a NorCal Div. II quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Saturday at Morelli Gym. He paced the Rams with 20 points in the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II quarterfinal win over Antelope, and again with 13 in the loss to Modesto Christian in the semis at Sleep Train Arena.

He and the Rams are at their best when Coleman II is not only scoring, but making plays with his length on defense and whipping the ball around from the high post or after driving into the paint.

JOSHUA PATTON (Sierra F/C, Sr.)

Patton is the kind of player who, just when you’ve think he’s peaked, finds another speed to add to his already impressive high school resume. The 6-foot-8 senior fulfilled a two-year old promise to his coaching staff, leading Sierra to its first-ever section championship with a whopping 24 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks in a 67-51 win over Weston Ranch Friday night.

He and the Timberwolves will try and make history again, as they look for the program’s first state playoff win, in a 6 p.m. home game Saturday.

HUNTER JOHNSON (Sierra F, Sr.)

Johnson hasn’t been talked about nearly enough, perhaps because Patton has been on varsity for longer and is headed to Sacramento State to play basketball, but he’s vital for the Timberwolves. Johnson is a double-double machine, and although Sierra doesn’t post stats on MaxPreps, his would surely be impressive.

ANAND HUNDAL (Manteca F/C, Jr.)

A healthy Hundal is the best way for No. 13 Manteca to stand a chance at fourth-seeded Palo Cedro-Foothill in tomorrow’s NorCal game up north. The 6-8 junior is the second-leading shot blocker in the state of California, and has an ever-improving array of post moves and a mid-range game.

JAELEN RAGSDALE (Weston Ranch G, Jr.)

Ragsdale has been the man for the Cougars in the playoffs, averaging 19 points in four section games, and is a huge reason why Weston Ranch earned the 8 seed and a home game in the NorCal Div. III bracket. The most fun time to watch him is when Weston Ranch has the ball with a quarter about to end, he can score even when the defense knows it is indeed him who’s shooting.

DAVID LERMA (Elliot Christian G, Sr.)

Lerma and Brookside Christian’s Williams need to be here, they are both legitimate talents who back their numbers, even if they are from smaller-school programs. The senior Lerma has an unbelievable 3-point touch, even when double-teamed, and scored 31 points in the section title game loss to Brookside Christian.

KENYON WILLIAMS (Brookside Christian G, Sr.)

Williams is fast, he can dish, he can shoot, and he could be an underrated college prospect. He dropped 26 points and 10 rebounds in the championship win, and has well over 1,000 points in his career. Senior Kameron Vales could easily deserve this spot, too.

NOTE: All photos here are via The Record’s photography staff and contributors, including Clifford Oto, Calixtro Romias and Craig Sanders.

MORE NAMES IN THE MIX

Kameron Vales, Brookside Christian

Devin Williams, St. Mary’s

Fred Lavender, Weston Ranch

Druce Asah, Tracy

Andre Green, Bear Creek

Lewis Hayes, Chavez

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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Gameday Preview: Kimball, St. Mary’s Girls on Championship Stage

 

Kimball girls basketball is 30-0 heading into today's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final with Modesto Christian. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

To talk about two by u1506″ href=”#”>programs with different histories heading into Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championship Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, go no further than Kimball and St. Mary’s.

The Jaguars (31-0) were an abysmal 1-26 in their inaugural season of 2010-11, but under the guidance of coach Miguel Granillo, who’s been there through all of it, they’re unbeaten and 32 minutes from a Div. II title. Kimball faces Modesto Christian at 1 p.m., the reigning CIF State Div. III champion with a loaded roster, and thus, championship experience.

Kimball will struggle to keep up with Modesto Christian, and has to set its own tempo. Freshman Raziya Potter and sophomore Donwanae Anthony must be the focal point at forward, getting the Crusaders into foul trouble and making this a half court game.

Seniors Allie Schmidt and Sarah Nunes must shut down, or at least stifle, Modesto Christian’s wealth of scorers. This is a Crusader team that scored 66 points against St. Mary’s, and that’s no joke.

*****

Speaking of St. Mary’s (29-1), the Rams are fighting for their eighth consecutive section championship and 16th in their history, battling Sacramento-McClatchy at 6:30 p.m. in Div. I. It’s a great matchup, as St. Mary’s is No. 3 in USA Today’s poll and McClatchy is a bubble team in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.

McClatchy features a familiar face in assistant Que Ngo, Brookside Christian’s former head coach who won three section and one state title with the Knights. As Joe Davidson of The Sacramento Bee wrote in a small headline, “Ngo knows championships.”

An X-Factor today is St. Mary’s healthy, as 6-foot-2 freshman Aquira DeCosta, the No. 2-rated freshman in the country, is questionable with a knee injury. Junior guard Mi’Cole Cayton, one of the Rams’ all-around threats, is questionable with an elbow injury.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Brookside Christian girls, Elliot Christian boys on to section finals

(PHOTO COURTESY OF MAXPREPS)

It was a great night for small-school basketball in Stockton and Lodi. And that included No. 1 Brookside Christian girls basketball’s 68-41 win over No. 4 Dixon in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal at Tokay, and No. 4 Elliot Christian boys basketball’s 56-41 victory over No. 8 Auburn-Forest Lake Christian in a Div. V semifinal at Galt.

Brookside Christian was led by junior Aarion McDonald, a verbal commit to the University of Washington, who posted 26 points, six steals and five assists. Senior Ariana Vaughn, a Pacific-bound forward, dropped a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double. Ra’kyra Gabriel, a Florida Atlantic University-bound senior, posted 17 points and 10 boards for a double-double of her own.

The Knights play No. 2 Sacramento-Bradshaw Christian at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Elliot Christian, which faces Central California Athletic Alliance rival Brookside Christian at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Sleep Train Arena, ended Forest Lake Christian’s Cinderella run. David Lerma powered the Eagles with 29 points, shooting 11 of 15 from the field: a clip of 73 percent.

It’s the second time Lerma has played in a section championship game this year. He was a key member of the Elliot Christian football team that was a Div. VII runner up to Merced-Stone Ridge Christian.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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All-Access: Traveling with St. Mary’s Boys Basketball to Sleep Train Arena

The St. Mary's bench was disappointed by Wednesday's result, but its journey to Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento was a rare one. (CRAIG SANDERS/THE RECORD)

As the St. Mary’s boys basketball motorcade (okay, a handful of vans and SUVs) drove into Sacramento and neared Sleep Train Arena, the home of the Kings, it was obvious the pressure wasn’t getting to the Rams.

“You think all of us could ghost ride this van?” one player asked. “What, into the arena?” another said. To be clear, “ghost riding” is when a driver exits a moving vehicle and starts dancing around it. Obviously, a joke, but a funny one given the pressure St. Mary’s was under.

Sure enough, St. Mary’s showed up soon after — with assistant coach “Scooter” safely driving our SUV whilst in the vehicle — to soak in playing at an NBA venue as high school competitors. Along the way, St. Mary’s had been loose, looking out the window and reflecting on how James Harden finishes his jump shots.

One player said he’s been to Sleep Train a couple times, to see the Kings play the Milwaukee Bucks, and another to see a monster truck derby.

After St. Mary’s players and staff convened, and waded through a slow check-in process, along with opponent Modesto Christian, as all bags were checked (yes, including my laptop bag, reporters don’t get special treatment), they started meandering to their “locker room.”

I put “locker room” in quotes because it’s obviously a training room the Kings use for the high school teams every March, but it makes sense.

A Sac-Joaquin Section official led us through the hallways, through the underbelly of the arena. That’s where the players’ interest started to perk up, as one Ram said he could just envision Allen Iverson walking through there in his prime.

Down there, en route to the dressing room and the court, it had a dark, warehouse kind of feel like the bottom of most professional sports arenas do. At least… the two I’ve been to: Sleep Train Arena and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

There were vending machines, backboards with rims and nets and spare arena seats.

Near the dressing room loomed the walkway into the court. Rams coach Ken Green had called Sleep Train “cavernous” this week, and you could see why when you stand on the ground floor.

St. Mary’s slowly got ready, maybe lingering around a few more minutes than Green liked.

“They’ve got a tunnel over there where you guys can do some dynamic stretching. Yeah, you guys are doing dynamic sitting,” he said sarcastically.

So, St. Mary’s limbered up, filed out for some layup and shooting warmups, and returned to the dressing room for Green’s final, fiery-but-focused pregame speech.

St. Mary’s stuck with Modesto Christian, leading 23-22 at half before losing 59-46, overwhelmed by 6-foot-6 Pacific commit Anthony Townes, but it’s season is still alive. The Rams compete in the NorCal playoffs, which are seeded Sunday and begin Wednesday.

And, regardless, the Rams had a life experience that may never recur.

“It was great, it was like a dream,” St. Mary’s point guard Devin Williams said, “walking through the same tunnels that a player like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James has walked through.”

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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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.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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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:

WESTON RANCH (19-10)

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)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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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:

NORCALS AT STAKE

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.

KNIGHTS’ TOUGH PAIRING

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.

COUGARS’ ROAD CONFIDENCE

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.

TROJANS CAN PROVE PROWESS

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.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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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.

GIRLS BASKETBALL WEEKLY MVPs

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.)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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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.

BOYS BASKETBALL WEEKLY MVPs

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.)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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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.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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