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.
History was made. Dreams were realized. Others were crushed.
WALNUT CREEK - Sierra High's wrestling team brought just 11 athletes to the Bill Martell Tournament Wednesday, but that was enough for it to leave its mark in its final tune-up for the Valley Oak League season.
The 5th Annual Lady Lancer Tournament at East Union High Wednesday lasted just 4 ½ hours.
SONORA – Sierra High will open up the 2010 Valley Oak League season with a visit from the Sonora Wildcats, so the Timberwolves' 52-47 win in the third-place game of the Dominick Fuchs Classic helped Sierra close out the preseason in the best possible way.
RIPON – When the Oakdale Mustangs turned up their full-court pressure, Ripon Christian was unable to conquer the challenge, falling to the Mustangs 47-32 in the championship of the Lady Knights Classic Wednesday at Ripon Christian.
TRACY – Sharon Washington had another phenomenal outing leading her Manteca Buffaloes to the consolation championship of the Tracy Breakfast Lions Tournament with a 50-40 win over Foothill High Wednesday.
SALIDA - Rod Wright isn't delusional.
BRENTWOOD – When Weston Ranch opened the first quarter with one of its worst offensive outputs of the season, recovering from its double-digit deficit proved impossible as the Cougars dropped its loser's bracket contest 74-48 to Clovis High in their 10th Annual West Coast Jamboree contest at Liberty High.
TRACY - The good news for East Union's girls basketball team is that it is still tied for first place in the Valley Oak League.
SALIDA - One day after notching its biggest win of the season, the Ripon boys basketball team appeared ready to ride that momentum after a quality first-quarter effort against Merced in a third-round consolation game of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic Tuesday.
BRENTWOOD - The Weston Ranch Cougars got another strong effort from sophomore Jazmin Strane, who led a 47-43 victory over the Amador Valley Dons of Pleasanton Tuesday in second-round action of the 10th Annual West Coast Jamboree at Liberty High.
STOCKTON - The East Union boys basketball team nearly squandered its nine-point halftime lead, holding on for a 58-57 win over Stagg in 4th Annual Bear Creek Bruin Shootout Tuesday.
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.
Weston Ranch put Friday's Valley Oak League ball game against Sierra solely in the hands of standout sophomore Jaelen Ragsdale.
Don't let the records fool you.
RIPON – Tiana Chacon has been an All-Trans Valley League first-team third baseman the past two seasons.