BVAL wrestling

Liberty and De La Salle high schools are regarded as two of the better wrestling teams in the North Coast Section this season. They are also considered the favorites in the Bay Valley Athletic League.

We learned a lot about the teams last night. Liberty won nine of 14 matches against De La Salle to win the league dual 40-24. I was impressed with the Lions depth. They also had four freshmen in the starting lineup. All four won their matches. David Klingsheim (103 pounds), Anthony Thurgood (112), Taylor Kuryla (125) and David Rios (140) each had convincing wins against the Spartans.

As for De La Salle, the Pica brothers – Tito and Nick – are monsters. Sophomore Tito Pica (171) is a defending NCS champion. Freshman Nick Pica is already at 189 pounds. Scary. They also have the experience of Nate Spangler (135). His pin of Derek Guzman in just 1 minute was impressive as well.

The Lions are now in the driver’s seat toward winning the league dual championship, but how important do you think league duals are? The league individual championships could result in a different team having the highest team score because they are able to place more wrestlers higher.

Liberty still has Clayton Valley and Deer Valley coming up. Do you think either of them has what it takes to defeat Liberty?

I am interest in what you think. Please comment. 


What to do

If you’re a fan of local high school girls basketball, you will be faced with a dilemma on Friday night. Two of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the season will be taking place at about the same time 20 miles apart in Contra Costa County. And, of course, you can’t be two places at once.

Do you go to Richmond’s Lovonya DeJean Middle School to watch Pinole Valley, the No. 1 team in the East Bay in last week’s Times poll, take on ACCAL rival El Cerrito, the No. 2 team? Jasmine Smith vs. Myleka Emerson. DeNesha Stallworth vs. Shonetta Crain-Williams. I’m guessing there won’t be many shot clock violations.

Or do you go to Concord to watch Deer Valley attempt to break Carondelet’s stranglehold on the BVAL? The Wolverines were No. 4 in the East Bay last week and the Cougars were No. 3. Can anyone on Deer Valley’s roster stop Jayne Appel? Can any one Carondelet player slow down Erica Helms?  The Cougars haven’t lost a league game in over three years (i.e the Appel Era). But this season’s Wolverines team has as good a chance as any to break that streak.

So, if you’re a fan of local high school girls basketball, you have a decision to make. Lucky for you, you can’t go wrong either way.


A look at BSAL boys hoops

As expected, the Bay Shore Athletic League boys basketball race is tight. After six league games, only one game seperates three teams at the top of the league. Salesian is undefeated at 6-0, followed by St. Joseph Notre Dame and St. Mary’s, which both have 5-1 records. Right below those teams are a couple more teams to watch. Piedmont had arguably its biggest win of the season when it beat Kennedy 58-57 on Tuesday to improve to 4-2 in league play. Kennedy, which has two players averaging 13 points or more in league play, is right behind with a 3-3 record.

What do you think of the BSAL race so far?


EBAL wrestling

In a match between perhaps the two best teams in the East Bay Athletic League, Foothill edged out Granada 30-27 on Tuesday night.

At 125 pounds, two of the best wrestlers in the North Coast Section battled it out, with Granada’s Sean Jackson coming away with a 6-3 win over Foothill’s Phil Boyer. In the California Wrestler’s Newsletter’s latest NCS rankings, Boyer was second and Jackson third at 125. The CWN is currently putting together new NCS rankings. Boyer also placed fourth last weekend in the prestigious Five Counties Invitational.

Two other teams to look out for in the EBAL are California and Livermore. California defeated Amador Valley 55-15 and Livermore topped San Ramon Valley 52-27 on Wednesday.

California, Foothill and Livermore are all 2-0 and Granada 2-1 in the EBAL standings.  Amador Valley and Monte Vista are 0-2 and San Ramon Valley 0-3 in EBAL duals. So who do you think will end up winning the EBAL dual title?

Foothill has three of the top individuals in Kellen Aura (103), Boyer and Tommy Wipfli (130). All three placed at Five Counties. Jackson has led Granada and California’s Jason Welsh is ranked second in the NCS by CWN at 135.  Considering that, who do you think will have the highest team score in the EBAL individual championships?   


Complaints about wrestling coverage

A kind reader called the Valley Times yesterday and told me she was concerned about the lack of wrestling coverage in the newspaper. I told her we depend on coaches to call us to report their scores.

"Is that how it works?" she asked.

It’s a fair question, but because of the number of high schools we cover (roughly 50) and the number of sporting events going on on a nightly basis, the high call volume we experience in taking all those results makes it impossible to free writers up to cover most of them. There is also a constant space crunch that limits how much we can write on the events we are able to cover. We have to carefully pick and choose the best ones to cover.

The reason why a sport like basketball seems to dominate the "scoreboard" page is because the basketball coaches are calling their results in more frequently, in general, than wrestling coaches.

For the wrestling coaches who do consistently call in their teams’ results, we thank you. For those who don’t, we want to hear from you so we can better inform our readers who are interested in high school wrestling. Understandably, there are a number of new coaches in every sport who have not been told by their athletic directors how to report results to local newspapers.

At the very least, we need a score or who won, just so we can run complete league standings the following day.

Some coaches may feel it’s an inconvenience or a burden to report their results. We’ll gladly take results from assistant coaches or stat keepers. If you’re not sure what is needed, we’ll walk you through it. It only takes about five minutes.

Being the Times’ wrestling writer, I want to see more wrestling in the newspaper. Because of my other duties, I am only sent out to a few tournaments per season, plus one or two league duals. I also write a column that appears every other Tuesday. The latest one runs next week (cheap plug).

Here are the ways to contact us to report your results:

Contra Costa Times: 925-943-8247; Valley Times/San Ramon Valley Times: 925-847-2166, West County Times: 510-262-2738. Results can also be faxed to 925-930-6150 or e-mailed to prepscores@cctimes.com, but please give us a quick call to let us know you are sending results.

Please call as soon as possible after your match ends. If you call by 10 p.m., we can usually get the result in for the next day’s newspaper.

We do our best but we need your help.



Inside EBAL boys basketball

No league is tougher to predict in the EBAL, and that is even more true this season as there are four teams that could finish anywhere between third and sixth. An unbeaten season in the EBAL? Forget about it.

Here’s some more insight on our precicted finish.

Foothill: With just three seniors on the roster, you might as well pencil in the Falcons for first place next season. Picking the Falcons to finish first was pretty much the only easy decision.
Monte Vista: No team played a tougher nonleague schedule, and the Mustangs handled it quite well. Perhaps only FOothill has as much team speed as Monte Vista.
San Ramon Valley: Last year’s unbeaten league champs lost a lot to graduation, but the Wolves are still very talented — especially in their starting five. San Ramon valley isn’t as big or as deep as a season ago, but is no less dangerous on any given night.
Amador Valley: Few teams are better coached, and no team has more size. A strong outside and mid-range shooter who can also drive to the basket, Cardinal Newman transfer Pat Mapes is a perfect complement to the inside scoring of Mike Batty.
California: No team likes to play at the Grizzly Den. That will be the case once again this season, as California has grown into one a very good team. Like all of Cary Willson’s teams, defense will be its calling card. And if a go-to scorer emerges, look out for the Grizzlies.
Granada: This is pretty much the only league that Granada would finish sixth in. A very well-rounded team, the Matadors could very likely contend for a title in the DFAL. But first-year coach Bryan Hahn played in the EBAL, and would have it no other way. "That’s what I like about this league, you’ve got to bring it every night," Hahn said.
Livermore: Still one or two seasons away, the Cowboys are actually on the rise. A talented group of underclassmen will see their lumps this year, but will be more competitive than in previous seasons.

Other predcitions:
Coach of the year: Randy Isaacs, Foothill
Offensive Player of the Year: Cory Higgins, Monte Vista
MVP: Bryce Alvari, Foothill
First team All-League: Alvari, Higgins, Batty, Ryan Dadrass (Foot), Brandon Adams (SRV).


EBAL girls

Some may think I went out on a limb a bit by picking Granada to win the EBAL, but what can I say? Anyone who’s followed girls basketball knows exactly what Matadors coach Casey Rush is capable of doing to a program. When he was at Acalanes, the Dons were one of the toughest teams in the DFAL as well as a constant threat in the NCS playoffs–neither of which is an easy task. And already, it looks like he’s transformed the Granada program. The Matadors won their first seven games of the season and tested their mettle at the NIKE TOC for the first time. That alone should help Granada battle for the league title.

That’s not to say Amador Valley won’t give the Matadors a challenge. Sure, the Dons got off to a rocky start, but no one around the EBAL is writing them off. When asked about Amador Valley, most of the EBAL coaches had the same response: Amador is Amador. Meaning, they’re always a threat. Perhaps it’s fitting that Amador Valley and Granada square off Wednesday. Talk about a barometer game!

Also, from what I hear Foothill, should be pretty strong (and tall!) this year. The Falcons haven’t played the toughest nonleague schedule but they’ve been successful and that should help with the confidence factor. Mike Furlong is in his first year, so it will be interesting to see what Foothill does. Look for Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley to mix it up as well.

As usual, it should be a fun race.


ACCAL girls

The Accal season kicks off today and Pinole Valley is seeking to defend its title from a season ago. The Spartans (11-0) lost Jontelle Smith, who is now starring for St. Mary’s College, but might be a better team. The addition of freshman center DeNesha Stallworth allows the Spartans four other starters to wreak havoc on the wings. Stopping the Spartans isn’t easy with all five starters capable of scoring 20 or more per game. Jasmine Smith, Jontelle’s younger sister, can do it all score, rebound, pass and play defense. And as talented as she is Jaleesa Ross might be their best offensive player. Ross can score inside, outside and on the break.

The Spartans versatility is one of the reasons why they were picked to win the league again. However, don’t sleep on El Cerrito. The Gauchos match up nice with Pinole Valley. Guards Myleka Emerson and Shonetta Crain-Williams can score at will. Then throw in guards Imani Carson, Shameika Davis and Kiara Lewis and forward Ashley Rollins and El Cerrito has enough scoring power to stay with Pinole Valley. Berkeley had a rough nonleauge showing, going 4-6 but any doubts that coach Gene Nakamura won’t have the Yellow Jackets in the running come NCS would be foolish. Hercules and Richmond have both improved and have 20-point per game guards in K.K. Martin and Alexsis Brown, respectively.

Alameda has talent returning with three starters back, and with Ahshalic Johnson taking over the program, the Hornets should add another level to their defense. Encinal lost Shay Rollins, now playing at USF, but has a promising freshman in Destinee Martel. De Anza is going through a rebuilding stage with new coach Mike Aloi.


Inside ACCAL boys hoops

All the big names of the past two years have graduated, and suddenly it’s a new day in the ACCAL. Nearly every coach agreed that the league has never seen more parity or been more up for grabs. So with that thought, here’s some additional commentary the predicted order of finish.

In the predicted order:

Pinole Valley: Depth and coaching. That’s what separates the Spartans from what most consider the other two frontrunners (De Anza and Richmond). When they want to be, Pinole is the most complete team in the league.
De Anza: With a core of four seniors built toward this year, this team shouldn’t be struggling with the type of inconsistency it’s experiencing. Some of that is likely due to Darius Foster missing a handful of games due to an ankle injury.
Richmond: Wendell McKines and Orlando Arnold are about as dominant as they come. But due to a lack of depth, injuries or foul trouble is going to make any game a serious uphill battle for the Oilers.
Berkeley: Young, inexperienced, and very, very talented. It’s the team of the ACCAL’s future, but it will likely only show flashes of it this year.
El Cerrito: Imagine what this team could do if it had a regular gym to practice in. The Gauchos’ lack of any regularity will unfairly cost them, but there is still enough talent there to keep team’s honest.
Alameda: The Hornets may be the most experienced team in the league. Unfortunately, they will struggle due to their lack of size and quickness.
Hercules: After a 1-9 start, the Titans might be the most underrated team in the league. Some of that poor start can be attributed to a strong schedule and a banged-up roster. Remember, this team played a very good Campolindo team to just six points early in the season. It may be too late for the Titans to build a playoff resume, but they could still surprise some people.
Encinal: The Jets are still a team trying to find an identity. If a true leader can emerge, the latter half of the season be kinder to Encinal.

Other predictions…
Coach of the Year: Rob Collins, Richmond
Offensive Player of the Year: McKines, Richmond
MVP: Foster, De Anza
First team All-league: Duane Bagsby (Berkeley), Foster, Justin Newsome (Pinole Valley), Arnold (Richmond), McKines (Richmond).

Have any of your own predictions for the ACCAL, have at it with a comment.


Fast Starts

With league play picking up this week after the holidays, a few teams will try and build on their fast starts out of the gates in early league play.

In the DFAL, it’s been Concord’s 3-0-3 record that has it sitting atop the league, with College Park — the Silver Division champion at the Winter Soccer Classic — in second place. Las Lomas is not far behind as well.

ANTIOCH, yes, the Panthers are tied with De La Salle with a 3-0 record and nine points in the BVAL. Clayton Valley also has nine points with a 3-2 record.

Piedmont and Salesian look like the class early in the BSAL. The Highlanders are 5-1 and the Cheiftans are 4-0.

Richmond is off to another blazing start in the ACCAL with a 3-0 record. Who will challenge the Oilers in league play?

In the crazy EBAL, San Ramon Valley is 3-0 with wins over Granada, Foothill and Cal. The Grizzlies are fresh off a Gold Division championship win at the Winter Soccer Classic. The four top teams in the gold division were from the EBAL.

It is still extremely early, but which teams do you think will win their respective leagues this season?