The Lincoln girls basketball team are the top-ranked area team in NorCalPreps’ latest Top 20 hierarchy.
Lincoln is No. 8, followed directly by rival St. Mary’s at No. 9. The Trojans beat the Rams 48-42 on Jan. 29 at Lincoln. Lincoln is also The Record’s top-ranked large school team and St. Mary’s is No. 2. Brookside Christian was formerly in the top 20 but has dropped out after losing to Albany-Saint Mary’s.
There are no area teams in the boys rankings despite appearances by Elliot Christian and Lincoln earlier this season.
However, the St. Mary’s boys team is No. 22 in The Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson’s NorCal Top 25 for MaxPreps.com. St. Mary’s moved up one spot from No. 23 after beating Tokay, West and Modesto-Gregori in succession.
The Chavez, in white, and Edison boys basketball teams are SJAA co-leaders and meet at 7 p.m. today at Edison's Taggart Gym in Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2017
The biggest night of boys basketball thus far this season is here. There are enormous games for league championship, and playoff implications, in the Tri-City Athletic League, San Joaquin Athletic Association and Valley Oak League.
Here’s a brief look at all three. The Record is planning on having a reporter at all three games so make sure to grab a copy of The Record on Saturday and look online at recordnet.com late tonight.
Storyline: The Record’s top-three ranked teams, and the TCAL’s top three teams, St. Mary’s, West and Lincoln are bizarrely 0-4 at home when they play each other head-to-head. St. Mary’s has a chance to break that pattern tonight, as it hosts its toughest three games remaining: West, Lincoln and Tokay. If St. Mary’s wins, it will keep the top spot in The Record’s power rankings. If West wins, I will probably decide to make it a three-way tie between St. Mary’s, West and Lincoln, who, if Lincoln beats Lodi, would be in a three-way tie for first place in the TCAL. Keep in mind that the TCAL gets three automatic playoff bids, and Tracy is only behind second-place Lincoln and West by one game each. West has a good enough record that it could probably get into the postseason with a fourth-place finish barring a crazy collapse.
Chavez at Edison
Storyline: Franklin quietly provided an upset earlier this week, beating Chavez, which hadn’t yet lost an SJAA game, 69-63 behind a whopping 63 points from Milton Jordan, Now the Titans and Vikings are tied atop the league at 6-1. Edison was the 2016 outright champion and Chavez split the banner with Bear Creek in 2015. It’s senior night for Edison and they should have a big home crowd at Taggart Gym. Expect seniors in the Vikings’ Wesley Bookman and the Titans’ Carlos Gaston to have a massive impact on the outcome at both ends of the floor.
No. 4 Manteca at Weston Ranch
Storyline: When you think about the Buffaloes last season, you remember them winning a CIF State Division III championship. What you overlook is they were VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III runners-up to Weston Ranch. In fact, Manteca hasn’t won a league title in seven years. The Buffaloes clinch at least a share of the VOL by winning today, and if they win and Central Catholic loses, they are outright champions. But look out, a young Weston Ranch team has been playing better basketball, and might have enough depth — albeit with a lot of inexperienced players — to present an upset bid.
Manteca forward Tydus Verhoeven, center, dunks in a nonleague loss to Lincoln in December at Winter Gym. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2016
Lincoln High’s Andre Kelly, Manteca’s Tydus Verhoeven and Stockton Christian’s Kadyn Pieters were all named State Stat Stars of the Week by Cal-Hi Sports.
Here’s why each of these (Kelly and Verhoeven are seniors and Pieters is a freshman) made the list:
Kelly had 32 points and 20 rebounds in Lincoln’s 89-61 win at Tokay.
Verhoeven approached a triple-double with 24 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocks in an 81-61 win at Lathrop.
Pieters, who has two 40-points games this season, poured out 29 points with 18 rebounds, eight steals, six assists and four blocks in a 64-36 win over Delta Charter. She is the younger sister of Cameron Pieters, who led the Stockton Christian boys to a NorCal title game last March and is now playing for Delta College.
Tom Gonsalves, coach of the St. Mary's girls basketball team, during his squad's game against Las Vegas-Centennial in the Rams' MLK Showcase on Jan. 14 at Morelli Gym in Stockton. CRAIG SANDERS/RECORD FILE 2017
The St. Mary’s girls basketball team is down to No. 9 in Cal-Hi Sports’ latest state rankings.
But it’s no wonder, given the rash of injuries that’s hit key players.
Junior forward Aquira DeCosta, a dominating, 6-foot-2 player with the fleetness of a guard, has a torn meniscus. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are two surgical solutions. One is a full meniscus repair, which takes roughly three months for a full recovery (DeCosta would be done for the season). The other is a meniscectomy, where the damaged meniscus tissue is simply trimmed away. This recovery time is closer to three-to-four weeks. I am not sure yet what’s happening with DeCosta.
Not to mention, Naje Murray, a San Diego State-bound senior guard, is still recovering from an ACL tear to her right knee from July of last year. Nicole Young, another would-be contributing guard (and possibly a starter) is also out with a knee injury.
Health, and the development of role players like Amaya Oliver and Jada Moss around juniors Ariel Johnson and Neenah Young will determine this team’s fate come March.
NorCalPreps: St. Mary’s (14-6) is No. 3 in NorCalPreps’ Top 20, while Lincoln (13-6) is No. 14 and Brookside Chrsitian (17-4) is 17th.
St. Mary's guard Ariel Johnson, right, goes for a reverse layup against Bishop Alemany at the Rams' MLK Showcase on Monday at Morelli Gym in Stockton. Johnson scored a game-high 25 points. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2017
Girls basketball is perhaps the most impressive high school sport in Stockton and San Joaquin County, and this year is proving it yet again.
Not only is St. Mary’s ranked No. 6 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, but Lincoln and Brookside Christian join the Rams in NorCalPreps’ Top 20 rankings.
Here is my All-Area Player of the Year Watchlist, in its first edition for 2016-17:
Remember: This is just for fun, and this list can change dramatically before season’s end. The Record puts a huge emphasis on winning teams, so there are players who are probably good enough to be on this list, but whose teams are struggling in league play so they’re less likely to win this award
Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s forward, junior)
DeCosta is a double-double waiting to happen, and the scary part is, she’s still just scratching the surface of her potential. The 6-foot-2 Rams star just posted 23 points and 15 rebounds in an 89-69 win over Mission Hills-Bishop Alemany on Monday in St. Mary’s MLK Showcase. She’s ESPN’s top-rated prospect for the Class of 2018.
Ariel Johnson (St. Mary’s guard, junior)
Johnson, despite being recruited my many, still flies a little under the spotlight because of the recruiting notoriety of DeCosta. But make no mistake, Johnson is relentless, can score by driving to the basket, hit 3-pointers and wreak havoc on defense. She’s the kind of versatile that college recruiters love and that will translate well to big-time college basketball. I could see Johnson in the Pac-12. She’s averaging 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Loretta Kakala (Manteca center, senior)
Kakala was recently named the first McDonald’s All-American from the city of Manteca, and the fourth from San Joaquin County (joining St. Mary’s graduates Jacki Gemelos, Chelsea Gray and Afure Jemerigbe). She’s averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buffaloes, who sit atop the Valley Oak League standings as the only team without a loss.
Celeste Almendarez (Edison guard, junior)
Almendarez is 5-foot-7 in a lineup that features three 6-footers — Vantajia Warren, Jaliah Williams and Koletta Wooten — but her IQ, speed, unselfishness and tenacity make her the Vikings’ catalyst. Plus, she could post a triple-double at any time. Almendarez is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Donwanae Anthony (Kimball forward, senior)
Anthony isn’t just a powerful forward with the ability to score at will, but is a superb facilitator for her teammates. She’s putting up 17 points and 11 boards per game, though Kimball is in a rough stretch after consecutive VOL losses to Manteca and Modesto-Central Catholic.
Shaylene Stark (Brookside Christian guard, senior)
Stark was an excellent complement last year for Aari McDonald (two-time All-Area Player of the Year, and now a Washington guard). Now, she’s beyond important for a team that literally doesn’t have any bench due to an already thin roster and a key injury. Stark is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Deyliana Lewis (Bear Creek forward, sophomore)
Lewis is the only forward who starts for the guard-heavy Bruins, but runs the floor like a guard and can do a bit of everything for Bear Creek. Lewis, whose nickname is “Dey Dey”, averages 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Zahria Hendrix (Lincoln guard, senior)
The Trojans have a balanced scoring attack, but Hendrix is the best open-court defender, has a great 3-point shot, can get to the basket and is a threat for blocking shots, too. The Stanislaus State signee is averaging 11 points, seven boards and four steals.
MORE NAMES TO WATCH
Kiara Manipol (Lincoln guard, senior)
Neenah Young (St. Mary’s forward, junior)
Vantajia Warren (Edison forward, senior)
Donja Payne (East Union forward, sophomore)
Savannah Henson (Brookside Christian guard, junior)
West guard Michael Hayes, left, and Lincoln forward Andre Kelly are both candidates for The Record's All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2017
There’s a month left of regular-season high school basketball in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Though The Record does use postseason performance in our end-of-year honors, it’s time for my first watchlist for both boys and girls basketball All-Area Players of the Year.
Remember: This is just for fun, and this list can change dramatically before season’s end. The Record puts a huge emphasis on winning teams, so there are players who are probably good enough to be on this list, but whose teams are struggling in league play so they’re less likely to win this award.
Michael Hayes (West guard, junior)
Hayes did have a rough night Wednesday, as he was in constant foul trouble during St. Mary’s 68-66 Tri-City Athletic League win at West. However, in terms of sheer explosiveness, competitiveness and impact, he is still as good a candidate as anybody.
Plus, Hayes has the highlight of the year, hitting the game-winning shot in a 65-64 win on Friday at Lincoln. He’s a returning first-team, All-Area selection for The Record.
Andre Kelly (Lincoln forward, junior)
Kelly has as good a chance as anyone of winning this award. He was already dynamic as a sophomore, in a second-team All-Area season, and has only gotten better. The 6-foot-8 Kelly is putting up 25 points and 14 rebounds per game, shooting an impeccable 65 percent from the field.
Tydus Verhoeven (Manteca forward, senior)
Verhoeven has truly put it together as the senior leader and eclectic virtuoso that the Valley Oak League-leading Buffaloes need. If the season ended today, Verhoeven would have my vote, and probably most of the coaches’ votes, for VOL MVP. The 6-8 senior is averaging 15 points, 12 rebounds, and crazily, six blocks per game. In a pivotal 61-58 win over Modesto-Central Catholic last week, Verhoeven had 27 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. That is player of the year stuff if I’ve ever seen it.
Bryce Johnson (St. Mary’s forward, sophomore)
Johnson has the impressive distinction in being the only varsity newcomer in this main batch of candidates. The 6-6 forward dazzled in St. Mary’s biggest game of the season, pouring in 22 points against West. Johnson is averaging a team-high 16 points, along with 10 rebounds.
TreVon Simmons (Brookside Christian guard, senior)
Simmons and sophomore forward Jalen Williams (one of the extra names to watch) could both be on this list. Simmons, though, has been to two Sac-Joaquin Section championship games in his career. He has the motivation of coming to the brink of a title last year, in that crazy overtime loss to Mariposa County, and he was excellent then. Simmons is even better this year, and was averaging over 20 points per game earlier in the season. He has the capability to shoot over 40 percent from 3-point land consistently and that’s vital in modern basketball.
Jalen Valverde (Elliot Christian guard, senior)
Valverde gets the slight nod over teammate Jimmy Beltz (leading scorer, prolific 3-point shooter) because of his all-around impact and ability to light up an entire stat sheet. The Eagles’ point guard averages 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in what could be a special season for Elliot Christian: The Record’s top-ranked small-school team as of this week.
Junior Ballard (Lathrop guard, junior)
Ballard is perhaps the area’s most talented scorer, especially with his dynamic ability to finish around the basket. The man who became Lathrop’s first player to score over 50 points in a single game (last season against Sierra) is averaging 24 points and shooting 52 percent from the field. Ballard’s candidacy will hinge upon Lathrop’s late-season performance: how they fare in the VOL’s homestretch and potentially, the section’s Division IV playoff bracket.
MORE NAMES TO WATCH
Carlos Gaston (Chavez guard, senior)
Wesley Bookman (Edison forward, senior)
Cutrell Haywood (Stagg forward, senior)
Ephraim Estell (West forward, senior)
Jordan Trotter (St. Mary’s forward, senior)
Zeke Holman (Lincoln guard/forward, junior)
Jimmy Beltz (Elliot Christian guard, senior)
Aidan Green (Tokay guard/forward, senior)
Raul Melgarejo (Weston Ranch forward, sophomore)
Jalen Williams (Brookside Christian forward, sophomore)
St. Mary's forward Aquira DeCosta, front, goes up for a layup against Bishop Alemany during their MLK Showcase game Monday at Morelli Gym in Stockton. DeCosta had 23 points in the 89-69 win. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2017
Cal-Hi Sports’ latest top 20 state girls basketball rankings are out, and St. Mary’s (13-4) has jumped from No. 7 to No. 6.
Cal-Hi is most impressed, it says, with a three-point loss to powerful Las-Vegas Centennial. Even more than beating Mission Hills-Alemany by 20 two days later. Click here to read the full rankings.
Lincoln (12-5) and Brookside Christian (15-4) are listed as bubble teams. There are no area boys teams in the state’s top 20.
In NorCalPreps’ Top 20, St. Mary’s is No. 2, Lincoln is No. 14 and Brookside Christian is No. 17. Lincoln and Elliot Christian have both been in the boys Top 20 at some point this season, but that hierarchy is currently devoid of any area teams. The top Sac-Joaquin Section representative is Roseville-Woodcreek at No. 2.
Manteca quarterback Gino Campiotti, right, against Menlo-Atherton during their CIF NorCal Division 3 AA bowl game on Dec. 9, 2016, in Atherton. Manteca has scheduled Bay Area power San Jose-Valley Christian for its 2017 Week 0 game at home. TONY AVELAR/RECORD FILE 2016
The Manteca football team’s upcoming season will be downright scary for its opposition.
Manteca, with a team full of juniors, split the Valley Oak League title with Oakdale and Modesto-Central Catholic, won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship and competed in the CIF NorCal Division 3-AA bowl game (a loss to Menlo-Atherton).
The team is full of returning All-Area talent like quarterback Gino Campiotti, linemen Justin Kakala and Kyle Reis and linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua (first team) and defensive back Vincent Ferro (second team). Not to mention, an explosive wide receiver in Joel Olmos to help out Campiotti.
Manteca officially scheduled its next Week 0 opponent on Wednesday, as coach Eric Reis confirmed, and it’s a dandy.
The Buffaloes will welcome San Jose-Valley Christian to Guss Schmiedt Field (likely on Friday, August 25).
Valley Christian went 13-2 this season, won the Central Coast Section’s Open Division 3 championship 14-10 over Salinas Palma, beat Santa Rosa-Cardinal Newman 31-6 in the CIF NorCal Division 2-AA bowl game and lost 21-17 to San Diego-Madison in a thrilling state final.
The Warriors have posted five consecutive winning seasons and are a superb test right off the bat for the Buffs: they of lofty dreams. Manteca has five Sac-Joaquin Section titles, but is seeking the elusive NorCal banner and state finals appearance.
St. Mary's football players Nicholas Cole, left, and Jake Dunniway pose with their CIF NorCal championship trophy after beating Freedom 49-40 in the Division 1-AA bowl game on Friday at Sanguinetti Field in Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD
The final high school football state rankings from Cal-Hi Sports are here.
St. Mary’s has jumped to No. 6, from No. 7, after beating Oakley-Freedom 49-40 in the CIF NorCal Division 1-AA bowl on Friday in Stockton. The Rams’ state finals opponent, San Diego-Cathedral Catholic (14-0), has jumped to No. 5 from No. 6.
St. Mary’s (14-1) is on a 10-game winning streak, and has scored over 40 points in 14 of 15 games this season. Junior tailback Dusty Frampton is likely approaching single-season school records, with his 2,176 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns.
Here’s a look at the other NorCal and Sac-Joaquin Section rankings:
St. Mary’s remains No. 2, and Manteca moves up to No. 16 from No. 17 in the latest NorCalPreps Top 20.
St. Mary’s is No. 12 in MaxPreps’ national freeman (computer) rankings. The human-made Xcellent 25 does not have St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s is No. 5 in MaxPreps’ Kevin Askeland’s regional rankings in the West. One-through-four are Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), Bellflower-St. John Bosco, Santa Ana-Mater Dei and Corona-Centennial.
The Amador football team’s unreal journey has one final step: a state championship game.
Amador (14-1) faces Temecula-Rancho Christian in the CIF Division 6-AA final at 6 p.m. Saturday at Murrieta Mesa High in Murrieta. That’s about a 460-mile drive via car from Sutter Creek.
Rancho Christian has a strong coach, and a team that’s on a 10-game winning streak, including winning the Southern Section Division 13 (you can’t make this stuff up, there are a bajillion teams in the Southern Section) championship.
Still, that low of a division is misleading. The Southern Section is the most talented (by mere force of how many schools and athletes there are) section in the state.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of Rancho Christian:
RANCHO CHRISTIAN EAGLES
Record: 13-2, 5-0 South Valley League
Recent history: Rancho Christian is a section champion for the first time, and considering the state playoffs expanded to include every section champion starting in 2015-16, it’s a great time to win your first section championship.
Players to Watch
No. 2 Jaden Schieberl (RB/SS, junior): Schieberl has compiled 1,668 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns for the Eagles, and is averaging a massive 12.2 yards per carry.
No. 34 Nicholas Alvarez (LB/TE, senior): Alvarez has racked up a team-high 16 sacks. Amador has separated itself in part because of its ability to have offensive balance, and pass behind quarterback Anthony Burns. Alvarez can help disrupt that.
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
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
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