WESTON RANCH – The Valley Oak League wrestling season is off and running and the Weston Ranch Cougars have opened it with high expectations and higher production with a pair of convincing wins over visiting Central Valley and Manteca highs Wednesday.
CERES – Sierra High knows they are flying under the radar, but that doesn't mean the Timberwolves are not flying high after their 67-52 win over the Ceres Bulldogs keeps Sierra atop of the Valley Oak League standings after Wednesday's contests.
OAKDALE – The Sierra Timberwolves knew they were fighting an uphill battle, but they had no idea their Valley Oak League opener would end with a 51-21 and a 64-9 loss to Ceres and Oakdale highs Wednesday.
CERES – Sierra High trailed the Ceres Bulldogs by four heading into the intermission, but a blistering hot third quarter provided the Timberwolves with all the separation they would need in their 59-53 win over the host Bulldogs.
Manteca High's defending Valley Oak League champion boys basketball team began its title defense against visiting Oakdale Tuesday and had little trouble in dispatching the overmatched Mustangs, 55-42.
If there was a perfect way for the three-time defending Valley Oak League champions to tip off their regular season, the Ceres Bulldogs would likely say they witnessed that performance in the East Union Lancers' 52-29 win.
RIPON - Despite holding a five-point lead at halftime, Ripon High watched its lead over Linden dwindle down to a single point midway through the third quarter.
It was not the Sierra Timberwolves' best effort, but it was good enough to push them to a 1-0 mark in Valley Oak League play with a 47-36 home win over the Sonora Wildcats.
OAKDALE - The Manteca Buffaloes held a slim 24-17 halftime lead and never relinquished it during a 45-34 Valley Oak League opening win over the Oakdale Mustangs Tuesday.
Joseph Berry led three scorers in double figures with 14 points, and the Sierra High sophomore boys basketball team repelled the relentless Sonora Wildcats for a 48-47 home win to open the Valley Oak League season.
Manteca High junior Kiwi Gardner could miss a handful of games or forfeit the rest of his athletic eligibility depending on Sac-Joaquin Section sanctions. He will likely not play in tonight's Valley Oak League opener with visiting Oakdale.
Manteca High's boys basketball team opens Valley Oak League play tonight against visiting Oakdale with a pedestrian 7-4 preseason mark, but do not be deceived into believing the Buffaloes are an average squad.
Entering a season with at least a portion of the past three Valley Oak League championships, and four of the past five, would usually make the defending champs the odds-on-favorite to close the season with another one. But the dominance the East Union Lancers have held over their VOL counterparts will hold little merit as the league season gets underway Tuesday for the nine VOL girls basketball programs.
The perception around these parts is that Manteca rules the high school football scene, Sierra reigns in soccer and the softball crown rests on the heads of the Lancers of East Union.
East Union's girls basketball team was making it a habit to start games sluggishly this season.
Senior night did little to distract Weston Ranch's girls basketball team Thursday night.
Ripon has been competitive for most of the season but doesn't have the wins to show it.
Ben Juarez knocked down a jump shot to give Kimball its first lead in the second half with 22 seconds left in Wednesday's crucial Valley Oak League contest at Manteca High's Winter Gym.
With four games left in the regular season, the Sierra Timberwolves appear well on their way towards an outright Valley Oak League title.
LATHROP - After surviving seven lead changes and four ties, host Lathrop ended the first half on a 7-0 run and outscored East Union 22-9 in the third quarter on the way to a 64-48 win in Valley Oak League boys basketball action.
Isela Rivera isn't concerned so much about her place in East Union girls soccer lore, though there have been few as productive as the senior striker.
Having battled back from a 21-point deficit to visiting Lathrop and leading by one with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Manteca's Jessica Hasal penetrated to the key and then dished out to Allison Rachels on the perimeter. Rachels threw up a 3-pointer and by the time it bounced off the glass and through the net she was picking herself up off the floor with the Buffaloes on the way to a thrilling 54-49 Valley Oak League girls basketball victory at Winter Gymnasium.
STOCKTON - With no true post players on his team, Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer has challenged the two tallest to be more of a presence in the paint.
Not this time.
The Ripon Christian boys basketball team overcame Turlock Christian's considerable size advantage for a second time with Tuesday's commanding 64-51 triumph.
RIPON - Amber Hilvers searched for the words, trying her hardest not to sound disrespectful.
All that matters is who leads at the end. For the Ripon Christian girls' basketball team, that is a good thing.
Lathrop junior Isaiah Ellis put on a show in front of the home crowd Friday night.
In a game that featured a head-to-head showdown between the Valley Oak League's two best senior post players, it was the guards who made the difference.