SALIDA - The home locker room is a few feet away from the main floor of the basketball gym, far enough to keep outsiders from hearing what goes on inside. That's a good thing for coach Doug Cornfoot and his Turlock boys basketball team.
DENAIR - It was as if the scoreboard was playing mind games with the Denair High boys basketball team. In one moment, the Coyotes were up by nearly double-digits. Then the next moment, they were down by a bunch.
After almost everyone walked out of the Pitman High gym and into Friday night's rain, there was a candid moment between the school's athletic director, Dave Walls, and the school's top girls basketball player.
Led by Denair High guard Clayton McDonald's 17 points, the Coyotes defeated Central Valley High 68-50 in the semifinal game of the Denair High Tournament late Friday night to earn a spot in today's tournament championship game against Central Catholic at 8 p.m.
Surprisingly, no one affiliated with the Turlock High boys basketball program closed his or her eyes in a sequence that appeared doomful. They watched in awe and anticipation, as the ball was repeatedly batted against the backboard and rim like a game of handball.
For most high school wrestlers from the Turlock area, the goal every season is to take that drive down Highway 99 toward Bakersfield. It's there that all the state's best congregate for the CIF Championships in early March.
Two years ago, Nick LaFrancis achieved something rare for a Denair High wrestler. He qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament, which is just one step from the elusive CIF State Championships in Bakersfield. Even if he didn't win a medal or a single match, making it that far is an unforgettable experience.