Josiah Frank of Pitman High is this year’s Turlock Journal Player of the Year for boys basketball after the Pride baller had a junior season to remember that included breaking a school record.
“I'm honored and humbled to be recognized as one of the top players in the area. I put a lot of time and work in behind the scenes and it feels good to see the work pay off,” said Frank. “This year our team was committed to building our culture and trust with each other. This was a major contributor to our success as a team. Our players locked in and set a goal at the beginning of the season and worked hard in practice to try and reach that goal.”
Frank earned first team honors in the Central California Athletic League, an honor that only seven were chosen for this past season.
During the year, Frank averaged 19.7 points per game with a pair of steals and a pair of assists per game.
Along with shooting 80 percent from the free throw line, Frank also set the single season record at Pitman High for three-pointers made with 85.
ALL-JOURNAL BOYS BASKETBALL
Player of the Year: Josiah Frank (Pitman)
Coach of the Year: RJ Henderson (Denair)
All-Area/All-Journal Boys Basketball Team
Cam Walker (Turlock)
Khyan Issa (Pitman)
Hayden Feldman (Denair)
Will Tate (Hilmar)
Jacob Kuharski (Denair)
Jordan Smith-Sires (Denair)
Chase Fiveash (Hughson)
Aidan Azevedo (Hilmar)
Dylan Anderson (Pitman)
Joshua Govett (Hughson)
Shadon Boswell (Turlock Christian)
Austin Upfold (Denair)
Clayton Dowdy (Hughson)
Mario Plasencia (Denair)
Solomon Ussery (Turlock)
“It was a good season. The changes that we made as a team allowed us to find more success than we had in the previous year,” said Frank. “We were capable of competing at a high level. This season kind of put us back on the map and I'm looking forward to seeing how far we can make it next year.”
Last season with Frank on the squad, the Pride went 9-15 for the year and missed the playoffs after going 2-8 in the CCAL, but this year, the team set different goals.
It paid off in the end.
This year, they went 14-9 during the regular season and earned a berth in the playoffs after taking second in the CCAL with a 7-3 league record.
Those three losses in league were by a combined five points.
They ended up winning a playoff game in the opening round of the Division-II Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, toppling Buhach Colony, 66-49. They fell to No. 1 Jesuit in the next round.
Prior to that Jesuit game, Pitman had won seven of its last eight games, including six of the last seven prior to the postseason.
“Coach Marable and Coach Frank set us to a high standard at the start of the season and held us accountable to that all season long,” Frank added. “Our team really bought into that process and worked hard all year. We are looking to compete early this summer to prepare for the season. We will continue to commit to each other and the culture of our team.”
This year’s coach of the year honors was earned in a landslide vote to Denair High’s RJ Henderson, who is fresh off a postseason semifinal berth, a Southern League title, and their first 20-plus win season since the 2006-2007 season.
That year they went 20-9 overall and 10-5 in league.
The last Sac-Joaquin Section title for Denair was in 2002, when they went 28-4. Their last league title was in 2004, while they also won it in 2002.
“Winning league title was a primary goal. When we practiced at our gym, the kids saw that the last time any banner was hoisted in boys basketball, but the 2002 team was a long time ago,” said Henderson. “We just knew it was a top-heavy team with Orestimba as well and Mariposa is Mariposa, they may have been a little down, but they gave us all we could handle and we had to play two games to beat them.”
Henderson led the Denair Coyotes to the semifinal game of the Division-V Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and also a berth in the Division-V CIF State Tournament.
Denair ended the year with a 26-4 overall record, making it the best season for Henderson since he took over in 2012-2013.
“Without a doubt, the foundation was built the past two years, making playoffs and getting some press, and I thought the momentum was on the upswing,” said Henderson. “Then we get two kids who transferred over and it really gave us that boost with Jacob and Jordan as well, we knew in the offseason we would be special.”
Denair is 30-6 in league play over the last three seasons.
Despite graduating eight of 12, Henderson is looking to rely heavily on his four returning sophomores who played big minutes on varsity.
“We know every Southern League team will come after us, so we are going to get the best shot every week,” Henderson added.