Football season is officially over and the start to the basketball season is underway for Hilmar and Hughson High — two teams eager to improve on last year’s records.
Ripon won the Trans Valley League title last season with a record of 11-1. Dethroning the Indians won’t be an easy task for the local teams. Ripon Christian finished second at 10-2 and Riverbank followed in third at 8-4.
Hilmar and Hughson finished in the lower half of league, winning six games combined in the TVL.
“Last year we lost about five or six games by six points or less in league, so we could have made the playoffs. …This year, we want to win at least one tournament, including our tournament, and make the playoffs, that is the goal,” said Hilmar head coach Craig Peterson.
“Last year was a bit of a tough year, we knew we would be down, best league finish in 20 years the prior year and we lost about 48 points per game going into the season and really inexperienced, but we built and won six games,” said Hughson head coach Nate Govett. “Continually got better and we lost overtime games, buzzer beaters, and we ended up ending strong, got better all year long, just got hot a little too late.”
Hughson tied Livingston for last in the TVL last season with a 2-10 record.
In their 12 games played in league, Hughson also scored the least amount of points with 595.
During their 26 game stretch they went 6-20 overall and won their last two games, including wins over Escalon and Patterson.
Last year, Hilmar went 12-15 overall for the season but league was a different story.
League was much closer than the 4-8 record they saw during the year in the TVL.
In a league of seven teams, Hilmar finished in fifth place.
This season is already looking up for the Yellowjackets, who are currently 2-0.
Hilmar returns eight players from last year which includes three-year varsity starter Aidan Azevedo and Will Tate.
Both are expected to be the undoubted leaders and stars on this year’s Yellowjacket squad.
Gabe Fuller and Kyle Barcelos are also other standouts on the team, while Seth Miguel is already a vocal leader says Peterson. Miguel was the quarterback for this year’s Yellowjacket football team that reached the D6 Sac-Joaquin Section final.
“All in all, it’s good because we can play with about 10, and we have a total of 14 on the varsity roster. If we have to when we press, we can probably go 12 deep,” said Peterson. “We can play big or small, we can play two big guys or four guards and a big guy, so we will be pretty versatile with whatever we have to do. I told them the competition in practice is going to make everything easier, because we got 10-11 guys deep, the competition is great. Our defense is what is going to keep us relevant in games. Our defense is what is going to give us that cushion in games. We just need to get our football guys in basketball shape now is all.”
So far this year, Hughson has split its first four games and are 2-2. The Huskies team is comprised of 11 juniors and only four seniors.
They also bring back last year’s sophomore standouts in Joshua Govett and Chase Fiveash. Clayton Dowdy is expected to be a senior leader on the squad.
“We’re 15 deep on the roster, most we kept in a little while, our system allows us to have big numbers. Our JV finished strong last year and we are looking to have a lot of competition, and this year they will compete for minutes,” said Govett. “The atmosphere right now, level of talking and level of competition, is as good as when we reached the end of the season last year… and practice has been nice and fun. I am really curious on this team; I want to make noise and compete for a playoff spot and build success to go into next year, but not look too far ahead.”
Hughson will next take on Downey High from the Modesto City Classic, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Hilmar’s next game will be on the road at Pacific Grove High at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13.
“The tough thing with our league is that there is no game during our schedule in league where we have a fairly easy chance, and some of the sports it has been the case, but it is going to be a fight every league game,” Govett added. “It’s kind of up in the air, which is exciting… the top three spots, going to be really tough. I think we are going to have a real exciting defensive team, not just grinding it out, but if we can figure out the defense, we will turn it into offense and turn things around and be a fun team to watch.”