Nose for the ball

The Bruins have a knack of jumping into passing lanes. Freshman Ashley Moore just picked another one off, ran the length of the court on a two-on-one break with (who else) Alex Cowling. Moore draws the defender and Moore throws an over the head, no-look pass to Cowling who makes the lay-up.

Cowling is putting on a show. Before the lay-up she hit an a fall away 3-pointer, that was just SICK. Bruins are up 29-18 with 3:34 left in the first half.


St. Pats came to play

Some said Marlborough would just come out and blitz the Bruins, but it’s St. Pats who has been the aggressor jumping out to a 22-13 lead after the first quarter behind Cowling, who’s driving strong to the rack with disregard to her body. I mean she’s taking some Dwyane Wade type falls, but just like the commercial, she bounces back up.

Mustangs’ center Talia Caldwell could be a problem for St. Pats. She scored the first bucket of the game on a nice post up move and has been a nuanance on the boards early. Nikki Speed has been inconsistent with her jump shot and has one step-back jumper for three points.

Cowling line after the FIRST quarter: 12 points 3 rebounds, an assist and a steal.


Basketball STATE of Mind

Good Morning!

OK, so I admit, it’s a bit early for some basketball but its the first trip to a state championship game for St. Patricks-St. Vincent and they would’ve played if tip-off was at 5 a.m.

Marlborough-Los Angeles and the Bruins are being introduced. The St. Patrick faithful came deep and their loud. The student section is also lively.

The Mustangs are led by Nikki Speed, a 5-foot-9 junior guard. St. Pats will look to Alex Cowling, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward/center aka Ms. Do it All.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.


Queen of the Mountain review

Well, the Queen of the Mountain is over after three intense days with (mostly) picture-perfect weather. While Foothill and San Ramon Valley were looked as favorites to win the tournament at Willow Pass Park, it was California that surprised the so-called experts to capture its first Queen title.

And the Grizzlies didn’t take the easy road, either. They knocked off three straight East Bay Athletic League opponents, including a 1-0, eight-inning win over San Ramon Valley in the championship Saturday night. That followed a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Foothill on Friday and a 1-0 semifinal victory over Monte Vista Saturday morning.

So, can California be considered EBAL favorites now? Well, considering how Sarah Lawrence pitched during the tournament, why not? She recorded four straight shutouts, was named MVP and seemed to get stronger as the tournament went on. The Grizzlies can also hit, and they don’t hurt themselves with mistakes. This is a experienced, savvy group.

By the way, when the first Times/ANG softball poll comes out next Tuesday, it’s possible that six of the top 10 teams will be from the EBAL. The combined records of those six teams – California, Foothill, Granada, Livermore, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley – through Saturday was a staggering 30-7. And that’s against good competition. The EBAL’s seventh team, Amador Valley, would finish near the top of the standings in just about every other East Bay league.

So, here’s my top 15 East Bay teams as of right now. Feel free to comment, tell me who I’m missing, who I’m underrating or who the best team really is.

1. California
2. Foothill
3. San Ramon Valley
4. Clayton Valley
5. Livermore
6. Freedom
7. Granada
8. James Logan
9. Monte Vista
10. Piedmont
11. Newark Memorial
12. Castro Valley
13. Deer Valley
14. Alhambra
15. Alameda

HM: College Park, Irvington, Carondelet.


ACCAL Baseball

In gathering information to preview the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League baseball season, a few things became clear to me. One, the league has a few definite tiers this season. At the top you’ve got Alameda, Berkeley and Encinal. In the middle, El Cerrito, Pinole Valley, Hercules and maybe even Richmond and in the rebuilding stage is De Anza.

The freakish thing about this league is the depth of pitching quality. There’s not just quantity, there’s absolute quality in this league. Berkeley’s Tyler Bremer, Alameda’s Jordan Pries and Encinal’s Zach Boyd could compete against any starter in the East Bay. Then you’ve got Andrew Johnson (Berkeley), Kenny Arnerich (Alameda) and Casey Henneman (Encinal) as the No. 2s and there’s very little drop-off. Toss in No. 3s Derrick Mitchell (B), Justin Miller (A) and Blaine Webber (E) and its readily apparent that these teams will be involved in some low scoring affairs.

So what does the ACCAL landscape look like this season? Here’s the rub. Alameda is the defending NCS 3A champion and lost just three main contributors. So, the Hornets are the big dogs until someone knocks them off. Berkeley and Encinal are a toss-up really because both teams do things a certain way and both have quality athletes this season. Execution will be key for these two clubs. Whoever executes best (and both coaches will back me up on this one, I’m sure) will compete for a league title. After that, you’ve got El Cerrito and Pinole Valley, two teams that have been a bit schizophrenic in nonleague play so that’s kind of a toss-up as well. While Hercules looks like a world-beater with a 5-1 nonleague record, the Titans have yet to play anyone of consequence. Richmond picked up a nonleague win and might be on the way up with a new coach and a new field. De Anza is picking up the pieces with just one senior.
So, that’s how it looks right now on paper. Guess what? We don’t play baseball on paper. Here’s to another great ACCAL season.
-Ben Enos


Track and field notes

California’s Justin Miller was the class of the boys pole vault field Saturday at the Bay Area Blast Off at Edwards Stadium at Cal. The junior won the event by a foot-and-a-half with a mark of 15-feet. But he didn’t have an easy time achieving that mark. It took him three attempts to clear his opening height of 13-0, and also three attempts to clear 15-0. He cleared 13-6 and 14-0 on his first attempt and 14-6 on his second attempt. “At 13, I was really close,” Miller said. “He has a lot of consistency with his jump, and we’re starting to clean up his run,” California pole vault coach K.C. Cook said. One can only wonder how high Miller could go once his run is “cleaned up.”

The long jump has popped up again on a list of events that Hercules star Jamesha Youngblood could ride deep into the postseason. Last year in her only long jump competition of the season, Youngblood leaped 18-10¼, which ranks eighth all-time in the region. She proceeded to medal in three events (second in the 300-meter low hurdles, third in the triple jump, sixth in the 100 high hurdles) at the California Interscholastic Federation state track and field championships. Last weekend at the Nike Indoor Nationals, she won the long jump and triple jump, and the long jump mark was 19-8 1/4. That mark would have earned her fourth place at the state meet last year. Only two female athletes in region history have jumped farther than that: Benicia’s Amber Purvis in 2006 (19-10 1/4) and Berkeley’s Yvette Bates in 1984 (19-9 3/4). Marks at the Nike Indoor Nationals do not count toward the region list because participants are entered as individuals, not as members of a high school team.

There were no distance events Saturday at the Bay Area Blast Off. Distance events occurred Friday at the Bay Area Distance Festival at Cal.


Arco here they come

St. Patrick-St. Vincent continues to make school history.
Alex Cowling scored 27 points, including 13 after halftime as the Bruins beat Valley Christiain-San Jose 70-57 for the NorCal Division IV championship at Delta College in Stockton on Saturday.
With the win, the Bruins advanced to their first state championship game. St. Patrick-St. Vincent also won its first NCS title this season.
St. Patrick-St. Vincent put the game away with a 13-3 run to open the fourth quarter. Cowling keyed the spurt with six points.


Moore is better

Bruins freshman forward Ashley Moore provided St. Patrick-St. Vincent with a big boost to open the fourth quarter.
Moore blocked a shot, grabbed an offensive rebound, stole the ball and had an assist to help the Bruins open the final period on a 4-0 run and lead 52-43.
Alex Cowling’s jumper and Olivia Reed’s layup gave the Bruins a 56-46 lead with 5:13 left in the game over Valley Christian-San Jose.


St. Patrick-St. Vincent leads at halftime

It took about 15 minutes for St. Patrick-St. Vincent’s pressure defense to begin to take its toll on Valley Christian-San Jose.
Behind 14 first-half points from junior Alex Cowling, the Bruins entered halftime with 36-29 lead iin the CIF NorCal Division IV Championship at Delta College in Stockton.
The Bruins closed the half on a 7-2 run keyed by Cowling, who had one point and one assist during the spurt.
Valley Christian, which presses on defense as well, trailed for all but 27 seconds in the first half.
The Warriors toook their first lead on Sarah Johnson’s basket and foul to make the score 27-25 with 3:58 left before halfitme.