FRESNO – On this cold and gray morning, Ricky Morris was at his very best.
When the Weston Ranch girls basketball team beat Sierra High to close out the Valley Oak League a year ago, the Cougars were hoping a postseason berth would be around the corner, but that berth never came.
After a quick walkthrough of Woodward Park in Fresno, the annual site of the CIF State Cross Country Championships, Ripon High head coach Paul Calkins and his runners settled into their hotel rooms at around 5:30 Friday night for a little rest and relaxation.
Just a short time ago, the Weston Ranch boys basketball squad was the premier team in the Valley Oak League, and the Lathrop Spartans were opening the gym for the hoops program for the very first time. After failing to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, the Cougars are poised to get back to the top of the league, whereas as Lathrop will be working through the exodus of one of its better players.
To be the champs, Ripon Christian's volleyball team must go through the champs.
Manteca and Sierra believe they have what it takes to make a run at the Valley Oak League championship this year.
Earning back-to-back outright championships in the Valley Oak League didn't come easily for Manteca High, and that was with dazzling point guard Kiwi Gardner setting gym floors ablaze.
The setters of the top teams in the Trans Valley and Southern leagues were voted the Most Valuable Players of each conference.
RIPON - The Knights didn't want to be one and done in this year's CIF State Northern California Division V volleyball championship tournament.
RIPON - It's an overused cliché, but the Ripon-St. Helena first-round match in the CIF State Northern California Division IV Championships Tuesday was truly played out like a heavyweight title bout.
In some ways, Ripon High volleyball coach Larry Keethe sees his team as an underdog despite its No. 1 ranking in the CIF Division IV State Championships, which begins today with Round 1 of the NorCal playoffs.
The Valley Oak League season saw the Sonora Wildcats and Oakdale Mustangs have their way along the schedule, but standout play from the other squads didn't go unrecognized, as the VOL's 2010 all-league team was recently announced.
The additions of Hilmar and Orestimba made the Trans Valley League even tougher Ripon High this year, and that was reflected in the all-conference selections.
DAVIS - The streak came to a halt for Ripon High varsity volleyball team.
DAVIS - They proudly held up four fingers.
SACRAMENTO - After trailing by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, Ripon Christian valiantly battled back to within six points with 1:02 left in the game on Jessica Van Vliet's free throw, but the Knights would not score again and lost 52-43 to Capital Christian-Sacramento in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game at Sleep Train Arena.
SACRAMENTO - What a difference a decade and a half makes.
BASKERSFIELD - If anybody would have asked Ripon heavyweight state qualifier Tristan Smith if he was ever hurt during the state tournament he would probably say no.
The Manteca High girls soccer team opened its 7th Annual Buffalo Cup with two blowout victories at Woodward Park.
Manteca lost its second game in as many days Friday, but head coach Neil MacDannald is nowhere close to hitting the panic button.
Manteca High's boys tennis team didn't get the desired results during the first day of the California Classic at Fresno City College, but coach Frank Fontana believes the experience alone will pay off in the long run.
The Cinderella of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs is still dancing, but Chris Teevan insists there is nothing magical about his ninth-seeded Weston Ranch boys basketball team's ride to the championship round.
Lathrop head coach Gabe Padilla decided to start his best player on the attacking third not necessarily to get more scoring production, but to allow her to put less stress on a strained quad.
From the start of the season, the rhetoric surrounding the Sierra and Weston Ranch boys basketball teams was consistent.
Ed Mulder is still pinching himself.
Late tonight, the 1987 Manteca High boys basketball team will finally have some company.
Sonora managed to get one good inning against East Union on Thursday and came away from Agostini Field with a 10-5 non-league baseball win.
Matt Rose edged out Weston Ranch freshman Austin Thao for low-medalist honors and helped Sierra tally its first Valley Oak League win of the season 250-288 Thursday at Van Buskirk Golf Course of Stockton.
Sophomore pitchers Mikayla Bongi, Alexis Erich and Delaney Pamplin combined for a three-inning perfect game, as East Union crushed Edison 11-0 to begin the St. Mary's Tournament at Stockton's Arnaiz Softball Complex on Thursday.
Sierra coach Scott Thomason was money from the 3-point line during his playing days at Pacific.