With the third and final release of the Sac-Joaquin Section Basketball Power Ratings, the age-old sports mantra that "every game counts" is a hard-nosed reality for both Pitman High and Turlock High girls basketball teams.
Every time he's inside his school's wrestling room, Turlock High senior Fabian Garcia will look at the blue banner placed high on one of the walls. All the names of the program's past state medalists share a spot on the sign in yellow letters, with the champions distinguished in white.
At the start of the wrestling season, Denair High coach Don Helnore hoped to have champions at the Southern League Tournament, especially because the Coyotes were scheduled to host the postseason event. He had a couple wrestlers in mind who could possibly achieve the honor.
Coach Dave Exline and his Hilmar High wrestling team had a simple plan: Get as many wrestlers qualified as possible.
ATWATER - This year's Central California Conference wrestling championships had a festive vibe. Some wrestlers dyed their hair blonde to perhaps highlight team camaraderie, as well as the start of the postseason. Another wrestler was spotted wearing pink socks.
In the conference room at Turlock High's main office, athletic director Anthony Belew had to speak his mind to Josue Barajas, who signed his national letter of intent to play for Cal State Stanislaus men's soccer on Friday morning.
Before her team even began league play, Turlock High girls basketball coach Salinda Mabie said the Bulldogs' undefeated streak in the Central California Conference was in jeopardy. It was a bold statement, but also a logical one.
At last weekend's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament for girls wrestling, several of the coaches and wrestlers at the event stopped and watched Turlock High junior Alexia Moreno in action. It's unusual for anyone to get this kind of superstar treatment, but people in the high school wrestling community seem to think she's different.
Held at Fitzpatrick Arena on the Cal State Stanislaus campus, the annual Denair-Turlock Christian basketball rivalry and homecoming games attracted hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of fans on Friday night. Those in attendance got to see the Turlock Christian girls team, thanks to a game-high 18 points from Kaisa Spycher and 38-6 halftime lead, beat the Denair girls 57-15. On the boys side, Clayton McDonald posted a rare triple-double (19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 steals) to lead Denair to a 72-54 win over the TC boys.
Despite going on respective winning streaks, a number of high school basketball teams in the Turlock area slipped down a spot or two in this week's Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings that determine playoff positions for the top 16 teams in each division, with the top eight to host the first round.
While the nation's best high school football players made a spectacle of their signings with their respective colleges in front of TV cameras, news reporters and an ESPN audience, one Denair High athlete did it quietly.
In front of thousands of fans in one of the city's most anticipated boys basketball games, Anthony Hubbard became a legend, as well as a baseball prospect. In a can't-believe-he-did-that moment, the Turlock High senior guard nailed a full-court shot to end the third quarter.
When the Turlock High girls gym is packed with screaming fans, the place can feel like a coliseum with the bleachers rising well above the floor. So just imagine being one of the wrestlers in Wednesday night's crosstown rivalry dual matchup between Pitman High and Turlock High, with both teams fighting for a share of the Central California Conference title.
Simply, the shots weren't falling. Some of them were high-percentage shots, the kind that the Turlock High girls basketball players see during warm-up drills. So coach Salinda Mabie supplied a simple message for her Bulldogs.
It wasn't pretty, Pitman High wrestler Emilio Saavedra would later say about his path to another tournament title.
Most high school athletes hope to find a college willing to offer them an athletic scholarship, but very few are chosen-especially twice.
Hilmar High walked out of the Trans Valley League track season and into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV/V Championship Trials with four TVL champions - Dani Olson, Hudson Harris, Kenzye Spears and Angelique Souza.
Since claiming the Southern Athletic League championship in 2012 for the first time in program history, Delhi High's boys track team has struggled to add another league title year to its banner. The Hawks have been in the running the past two years, but ultimately fell just short, and it seemed that would again be the case in 2015.
The members of the Pitman High softball team held their heads high on Monday afternoon.
The Pitman High Pride were coming off a clutch one-run victory over Gregori last week and looked to continue their playoff streak as they had their eyes set on the quarterfinal match on Monday against a familiar foe from the Modesto Metro Conference-Beyer High.
The Pitman High varsity softball team continues to thrive.
Playoffs, St. Mary's High and heart break. It's a familiar formula for Turlock High baseball.
The Turlock Christian High softball team was coming off not only their best postseason performance, but arguably the best season in nearly a decade after winning a playoff game by a margin of 12 runs. But on Thursday, the Eagles' hot bats ended.
In his first two at-bats, Pitman High baseball captain Matt Carrigg struck out twice before exceeding all expectations in his final plate appearance of the game.
Branson Garcia has spent a lot of time on basketball courts, practically growing up with a ball in his hands since the age of five. The game is a major passion for the Pitman High senior, so much so that it's hard for his family and friends to dissociate Garcia from basketball.
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