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DLS/Centennial: The Night Before

You’ll have to excuse the delay in posting our night-before blog. It’s been a busy day. The biggest delay? We hung on every basket in the Warriors/Lakers game and, as you might imagine, it was a joyous hotel room scene when Baron Davis took the game over and got the Warriors a much-needed win.

Anyway, it has been a busy day for us. We started for Carson at 8 a.m. and made it down here around 4:30. There was an Arby’s stop in the middle of the trip and we found out about something named “Horsie Sauce”. Anyone who has been to Arby’s and knows what that consists of, let us know. We navigated through traffic and went straight to DLS practice, where the Spartans were hard at work. Long story short, De La Salle looks ready for tomorrow. They looked crisp in drills and the defense seemed to be doing a good job of stopping the scout team offense running the spread formation.

So, we’ll have the blog up and running during the first game tomorrow (Division III game: Central Catholic-Modesto vs. St. Bonaventure). Both Chace Bryson and I are looking forward to seeing St. Bonaventure RB Darrell Scott, the No. 1 rated recruit in California. We’ll have more tales from the road and a brand-new Two Geeks and a Pigskin ready for tomorrow morning so be sure to check it out!

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State Bowl Championship Live Updates!

This is it, folks. Our final live football blog of the season! Don’t miss out now. This is the biggest game of the year for the Northern California football fans. NorCal perennial power De La Salle will get a chance to redeem its loss in the state title game last year on Saturday night against Centennial.

This should be a good one, as DLS is ranked No. 1 in the state and Centennial No. 2 by Calhisports.com.

Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. The game will be blogged live from the Home Depot Center in Carson by our friends over at the Contra Costa Times.

Here is the link to the live blog: http://www.ibabuzz.com/eastbayprepsports/

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Oilers-Jackets: Prep “futbol” doesn’t get any better

A great rivalry, evenly-matched teams, back-and-forth action and an overall electric soccer atmosphere. Yes, the winter soccer season has only started with the North Coast Section playoffs two months away. Already, though, we’ve had the game of the year when the Richmond High School Oilers traveled to Berkeley to take on the Yellow Jackets in Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League boys action Dec. 11.

Everything a fan could hope to experience at a soccer match was present. Berkeley tended to play the ball long while the Oilers were at their best with the ball on the ground. Richmond won 2-0 with a pair of beautiful goals. More than the action on the field was the atmosphere emanating from the stands, as both schools have some of the most savvy and lively fans around. And the kazoos, chants and cheers, combined with the action on the field, helped transform this from a mere game to a bigger event. This wasn’t just soccer, mind you, this was futbol, and some great futbol, at that, high school or other.

Of course, the fact that the two schools have a long sporting rivalry that predates their soccer days also helps. In addition, the Oilers and Yellow Jackets typically are the top two teams in the ACCAL with Richmond holding the upper hand in recent years.

Missed this game, you say? Well, the teams meet again Jan. 24 at Richmond, we’re told. NCS soccer still is two months away. But when it comes to excitement, passion and futbol, nothing beats a match between the Oilers and Yellow Jackets.

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Five soccer players (plus one) reinstated

Just got off the phone with CIF executive director Marie Ishida, who had told me yesterday that she wanted to wait until she could compile a complete list of high school players who participated in the Earthquakes tryouts before reinstating any of them.

Late last night, she changed her mind on that, and today the five players who had self-reported, plus a sixth who also came forward, have been reinstated. Earthquakes executive vice president David Alioto says a list of high school-age players who tried out was sent to Ishida this afternoon, the start of a process that could lead to more players being deemed at least temporarily ineligible.

The players reinstated today included two from Las Lomas and Concord and one from Acalanes. North Coast Section commissioner Tom Ehrhorn says a sixth — a junior varsity player from Clayton Valley — has also come forward and been reinstated.

The forfeiture of games still stands, despite the reinstatement. The players became ineligible once they participated in a tryout and remained ineligible until their reinstatement. Any games these players played in during that time must be forfeited. The formalities of the forfeitures haven’t been worked out yet, Ehrhorn said.

Regardless of whether you agree with the CIF rule or with Ishida’s interpretation of it, it appears Ishida made the right move by reinstating those players who have come forward, and by doing it now instead of waiting for the entire list to be compiled, a process that Ishida is hopeful will be completed by the end of this week.

Players who participated in the tryout, though, would be wise to step forward now. It seems inevitable that CIF will ultimately find everyone or nearly everyone who did participate, and if that happens, say, sometime next week, those players run the risk of causing significant damage to their team’s seasons because of forfeits. The teams with players who have already come forward will likely suffer only one or two forfeits; maybe three at the most. Anything more than that could be really damaging, though, especially with everyone now in league play.

Stay tuned.

— James Leonard

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Hoops coverage

In an effort to bring everyone as much information as possible, we will try to provide as many scores as we can each night. And, don’t forget to check out “Hoose and Whistle” Thursday as Hoose will be taping from Newark Memorial High. There is a Shootout Friday/Saturday at Newark Memorial.

Friday has Clovis East vs. San Leandro (6 pm) and Newark taking on Oak Grove (8 pm). Saturday will feature a couple of good ones again as McClymonds faces Oak Grove (6 pm) and Newark vs. Drew Gordon-led Archbishop Mitty (8 pm).

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Boys basketball scores

Monday:

James Logan 59, Campolindo 46

Tuesday (non-league):

Kennedy-Fremont 55, Alameda 43

American 72, Hillsdale 57

Mt. Eden 65, Washington 59

Mission San Jose 53, Yerba Buena 43

Fremont Christian 55, Oakland Military 38

Moreau Catholic 63, St. Patrick/St. Vincent 43

Castro Valley 52, California 40

Bridgemont 48, Head-Royce 42

Oakland Tech 64, College Park 51

Kennedy-Richmond 85, John Swett 51

Albany 43, San Rafael 43

Emery 53, Jesse Bethel 51

Libert 63, Livermore 52

Antioch 61, Foothill 57

San Ramon Valley 60, Dixon 45

Heritage 60, Northgate 45

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Girls basketball scores

Non-league

CSD 59, Pescadero 30

College Park 55, Mission San Jose 46

Arroyo 75, American 74

San Jose 55, Fremont Christian 19

Rancho Cotate 54, Irvington 46

Castro Valley 55, Clayton Valley 36

Vanden 65, Alameda 45

Skyline 70, Tennyson 38

Castlemont 82, Fairfield 57 (Monday)

(BSAL) St. Mary’s 65, St. Joseph 36; Piedmont 64, Salesian 46

California 74, Mt. Diablo 17 …. OUCH!

Berean Christian 63, Ygnacio Valley 33

Liberty 50, Amador Valley 49

Foothil 53, Antioch 42

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Tryout fallout not yet finished

*UPDATE* Click here for my article in today’s Times regarding the tryout situation. The EBAL boys season gets fully under way tonight. Perhaps we’ll find out then whether any EBAL teams will be affected by this.

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The California Interscholastic Federation’s ruling that high school soccer players who competed in tryouts for the San Jose Earthquakes have been deemed ineligible could have fairly far-reaching consequences.

The players will be reinstated, CIF executive director Marie Ishida said, because of some gray area in the rule itself and what constitutes a “professional tryout” and how much the players knew about what they were getting into. But they will not be reinstated until CIF has what it feels is a complete list of the players involved.

To do that, Ishida and North Coast Section commissioner Tom Ehrhorn must comb through a list from the Earthquakes of every player who participated in the seven tryouts — all of which took place in Northern California and some of which took place in the East Bay — and figure out which of the players are on high school teams. Ishida hopes that process will be finished by the end of the week.

For now, the players who have already come forward — two each from Las Lomas and Concord and one from Acalanes — will have to sit, even knowing that they will eventually be eligible again. And there could be players who don’t yet know they’ve done anything wrong who are still playing. If and when they come forward, the games they’ve played since their tryout will be forfeited.

It’s hard to imagine the tryout participation among local high schoolers was limited to five kids from three schools in the same league, especially when tryouts were held not just in Walnut Creek, but in Oakland, Hayward and all over Northern California. Over the next few days we could very well find out about players at schools from throughout NCS, in every league, and many games could be forfeited. There could also be some double-forfeits.

Or it might just be these five players. Based on what I’ve heard and read, though — and what others are saying — I just don’t get the feeling that’s the case. Hopefully those players who competed in the tryout will come forward and sit out until the matter is resolved. It would be a shame if this transgression — deemed so minor that the players won’t even be punished as harshly as the rule dictates — has a major effect on some team’s playoff hopes.

— James Leonard

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Murrey named Gatorade Player of the Year

I guess we’re not the only ones who think Tarah Murrey was one of the best volleyball players in the area. Gatarade thinks she’s the best in the STATE. We won’t argue.

Check it out: 

Saint Mary’s High School STANDOUT NAMED
GATORADE CALIFORNIA VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

CHICAGO (December 11, 2007) — In its third decade of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in partnership with RISE Magazine, today announced Tarah Murrey of Saint Mary’s High School as its 2007-08 Gatorade California Volleyball Player of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Murrey as California’s best high school volleyball player. Murrey is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award to be announced in mid-December.

The 6-foot-3 senior outside hitter averaged 6.3 kills per game this fall, finishing with a .494 hitting percentage and leading the Panthers (30-9) to a third straight North Coast Section title. The returning Contra Costa Times Player of the Year, Murrey recorded 412 kills, 141 digs, 59 aces and 34 blocks in 2007. After totaling 38 kills, 11 digs and seven aces in a 3-1 California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Northern regional quarterfinals victory against Ripon, she blasted 35 kills in a 3-2 semifinals loss to Harker. A member of the USA Volleyball Youth National Team, Murrey earned Most Valuable Player, Best Spiker and Best Scorer honors at the 2006 NORCECA World Championships.

Murrey has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom. A year-round volleyball player, she is also an active volunteer in her community, coaching at Piedmont area youth camps. As an enthusiastic member of her school’s choir, she has also donated her time singing at local nursing homes.

“Her skill is at the highest level I’ve ever seen for a high school player,” said Saint Mary’s Head Coach Cassie Aschinger. “She’s an amazing athlete. She hits just as hard as most girls with her right hand, and she’s left-handed. She’s a very versatile player. As big as she is, she’s like a cat in the back row. She can get to anything.”

Murrey, whose father, Doug Murrey, was a 1981 NBA Draft pick by the Golden State Warriors, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of California at Berkeley next fall.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field. The selection process is administered by RISE Magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Murrey joins recent Gatorade California Volleyball Players of the Year two-time winner Alix Klineman (2006-07 & 2005-06, Mira Costa HS) and Cynthia Barboza (2004-05, Woodrow Wilson HS) among the state’s list of former award winners.

For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.

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Sports Focus

The need to write one of the more somber stories of the season so far came across my desk today. It’s never easy to write about someone losing their job, whether it be a coach getting fired or an athlete being released because normally, said person is upset or angry and really could do without talking about it.

Today was different. When I called High School Sports Focus host Mike Sklut to talk about the cancellation of his show, I could hear the residual dismay in his voice. And why not? Mike and his co-host Brodie Brazil have put together a great product for several years now, something that was really unique in what it offered high school athletes. As writers, we can do interviews after a big game and the athletes will mostly be gracious enough to accomodate us but once that big camera gets in their face, the reaction is something that can’t be copied and the guys at Sports Focus captured it on a weekly basis.

Mike and Brodie, much like myself and just like a good portion of my colleagues, went to high school around here. On our sister site, Prep Corner, Jimmy Durkin and Michael Bower recall their experiences with the show and I, of course, have my own as well since I was in a few Sports Focus highlights back in the day (which is relative I guess since I’m only 23). I never played Division I sports but you better believe I’ve got a tape from my senior season that has my Sports Focus clips on it.

With all that going on, Mike had plenty to say on the topic and due to space constraints all I got to put in the article was one quote. Trust me when I tell you that there was more of the same in our conversation. The entire Sports Focus crew took great pride in what they were able to offer the community and I think people knew what a great asset Sports Focus was to the high school sports community. So Mike, Brodie, Ric and the rest of the High School Sports Focus crew, trust me when I tell you that we’ll miss you.