The high school basketball season ended nearly the same, but the journey taken by Kole Gaglio of Hilmar and Chance Browning of Delhi was very different.
Gaglio and Browning led their respective teams in scoring this past season and paved the way for a postseason pushes after breakthrough performances.
These were some reasons that both Gaglio and Browning are being recognized as the 2016-17 Turlock Journal Co-Basketball Players of the Year after being nominated by area coaches to be considered for the award.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Gaglio about being selected as one of the Players of the Year. “Because it didn't cross my mind, I didn't think I would achieve that goal since there are a lot of kids playing and I think it’s awesome.”
“I wanted to leave it out there and I wasn't pursuing basketball in college, so I wanted to at least try my best,” said Browning. “It's definitely nice to be at least Co-Player of the Year, but I wished we would have done better in league.”
Browning was the catalyst for the Hawks this past season after he led his team in scoring once again.
He averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds per game in Southern Athletic League play.
“He played really well all year long and was our driving force to get back to the playoffs,” said Delhi head coach Brian de la Porte. “Also, he really held his own at the Modesto Christian Tournament against some top competition.”
Aside from tough preseason competition, senior Browning paved the way for a late run in the year that earned the Hawks an extra game after the regular season ended after winning four consecutive league matches to end the year even at .500.
Delhi ended the regular season with an overall record of 9-19 overall and 6-6 in the SAL, which earned them a buy-in playoffs game in the Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament.
“Starting 0-2 shaped out how our season went, but at least we made the playoffs instead of not making it at all,” said Browning. “After going 2-6 in league the turning point was beating Denair on their homecoming, we felt more confident and won our next three.”
Hilmar's Gaglio, who is a powerful forward and was arguably one of the best players in the area, boasts a dominating frame at 6-foot-5. He led the Yellowjackets in scoring and was a big reason for the team’s success.
“I kind of knew this season would be different from last year since we lost many guys, but I knew I had to be a leader and do whatever we needed and I went into each game with that same mentality,” said Gaglio. “Whatever they needed I was going to do what coach wanted me to do.”
Gaglio did whatever the team needed and more. He led the team in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game, 8.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the year after 27 games played.
“I think a major person who I would like to recognize is assistant Craig Peterson,” said Gaglio. “He would work with me on all weaknesses and I think that helped a lot. And my parents as well, they gave me all the tools to succeed and pushed me to be the best player I can be.”
Hilmar went 17-10 overall and 9-3 in the Trans-Valley League, earning a spot in the Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament as a No. 9 seed.
“Kole worked hard in the offseason on his shooting and footwork and he became a dual threat, both on the perimeter and in the post,” said Hilmar head coach Paul Willis. “With his ability to shoot and post up, the opposing teams had a tough time matching up with him. As his coach, it has been exciting watching him develop over the last four years.”
Unfortunately, Hilmar fell to No. 8 Dixon in the opening round but the success that was a long time coming remains.
This was the first time since 2009-10 that the Yellowjackets made the postseason, ending a six-year postseason drought for the boys basketball program.
With this achievement in the books, Gaglio is now chasing a new goal and dream—collegiate basketball.
“I am going to play college basketball and not official yet but I verballed to UC Merced and should have a signing in April,” Gaglio added.
Players from Turlock Christian, Hilmar, Delhi, Denair, Pitman and Turlock basketball programs make up this year’s All-Journal team.
All-Journal Boys Basketball Team
Co-Players of the Year: Kole Gaglio (Hilmar) and Chance Browning (Delhi)
Paul Willis and Brian de la Porte, Co-Coaches of the Year
Dom Von Waaden (Pitman)
Cameron Sherwood (Turlock)
Caleb Hoag (Turlock Christian)
Drew Pritchard (Denair)
Jonas Tate (Hilmar)
Carter Azevedo (Hilmar)
Isaiah Marable (Pitman)
Max Tyson (Turlock Christian)
Christian Williams (Pitman)
Caleb Hanna (Pitman)
Arnold Perez (Delhi)
Mason Mark (Turlock Christian)
Arik Bains (Turlock)
Kamio Borja (Pitman)
Xavier Burke (Hilmar)
Adrian Espinoza (Turlock)