Immanuel girls basketball advances to D-II semifinals

Four wrestlers advance to state meet in Bakersfield on Feb. 23-24 after qualifying at Masters meet in Fresno

Immanuel High’s Ainsley Jackson (10) drives toward the basket while teammate Ava Schletewitz, right, cuts across the key during the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 36-29 victory over Tulare Western in a Division IV quarterfinal game on Feb. 16 at Immanuel South Gym. Freshman guard Jackson and sophomore forward Schletewitz tallied four points each in the quarter as Immanuel outscored the Mustangs 16-8. (Jon Earnest)
Immanuel High’s Ainsley Jackson (10) drives toward the basket while teammate Ava Schletewitz, right, cuts across the key during the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 36-29 victory over Tulare Western in a Division IV quarterfinal game on Feb. 16 at Immanuel South Gym. Freshman guard Jackson and sophomore forward Schletewitz tallied four points each in the quarter as Immanuel outscored the Mustangs 16-8. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published February 20, 2024  • 
11:30 am

REEDLEY – It was anything but a work of art, but Immanuel High girls managed to scrap their way into the Central Section Division II basketball semifinals.

Plagued by cold shooting and turnovers, the second-seeded Eagles (22-9) trailed much of the night before coming alive with a 16-8 fourth quarter run to put away the No. 7 Tulare Western Mustangs by a 36-29 score at Immanuel South Gym on Feb. 16. That sets up a semifinal matchup with No. 3 seed Santa Maria (a 49-41 winner over Dinuba High) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Immanuel is the highest remaining seed, as No. 9 Arvin and No. 13 Mendota battle in the other semifinal on Feb. 20. The two winners will square off for the D-II section crown at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23 in Fresno’s Selland Arena.

Eagles coach Loren LeBeau was happy about his team’s grit and desire that pulled out the victory.

“Our girls are so bought into our culture of relentless hustle, relentless pursuit, and that gives you a chance to win,” he said. “We were out-physicaled – we’ve got three freshmen and three sophomores in the top eight – and you could tell physically we were a bit outmatched tonight.” 

But Immanuel persisted with unceasing full-court pressure, and the constant attacking eventually made the visitors crack. Freshman guard Ainsley Jackson and sophomore forward Ava Schletewitz each scored four points during the final eight minutes, and the Eagles connected on five of six free throws down the stretch.

Schletewitz scored a team-high nine points, freshman guard Jenna Goertzen had seven points while sophomore guard-forward Nana Moreno had six points. Jackson finished with five points and ran the floor well in key stretches of the final quarter.

Dinuba (16-13) gave a road challenge to Santa Maria before falling to the host Saints, two days after defeating Independence-Bakersfield, 56-42. Junior Jalissa Espirito scored a game-high 18 points, including six of the Emperors’ nine 3-point baskets, in that win.

Reedley reaches D-III quarterfinals before falling

A year after capturing the Division V championship, the Reedley High girls reached the D-III round of eight before having their 19-11 season end in a 64-41 quarterfinal loss at No. 2 Morro Bay (22-6). It marked the final games for senior starters Raquel Cortez, Emily Pallesia and Ana Drolette along with Katelyn Medina-Perez and Kamarin Holm.

In first round action on Feb. 15, Cortez and junior Niana Holman scored 15 points during the Pirates’  59-45 victory at RHS gym. Pallesi and Drolette chipped in with 10 and nine points.

Mission Prep 59, Sanger 44

At San Luis Obispo, the No. 2 seed Royals (16-8) took command early, building a 19-point lead thanks to a 17-7 second quarter to eliminate the No. 15 seed Apaches (14-16) in a Division II first round contest on Feb. 14.

The loss ended the prep career of Sanger senior center-forward Krista Sheaffer, who scored 30 points in the loss. She established all scoring and career rebound records for the SHS girls program while finishing with 2,240 career points.

Orosi, Parlier ousted in quarterfinal losses

Both Orosi High and Parlier High had their respective seasons ended in quarterfinal losses on Feb. 16. The No. 7 seed Cardinals (13-17) defeated No. 10 Firebaugh 40-27 on Feb. 14, then pushed No. 2 Bishop Union (15-8) to the limit before being edged 45-44 in Division VI.

Parlier, meanwhile, finished its D-V playoff run with a 53-27 loss at No. 4 Coalinga. The No. 5 Panthers (15-15) led throughout a 47-28 victory over No. 12 Desert High two days earlier, as three players scored in double figures led by freshman shooting guard Jazleen Thompson with 12 points, all on 3-pointers.

WRESTLING

Three girls advance, Reedley’s Arroyo lone boys qualifier

Four Mid Valley Times region wrestlers, three girls from Sanger schools and Reedley High’s David Arroyo (140 pounds), qualified for the CIF State Tournament in Bakersfield on Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 22-24. All qualified at the two-day Central Section Masters Meet on Feb. 16-17 at Fresno’s Selland Arena.

Sanger High’s girls had a pair of second place finishers in Gabriela Flores (147 pounds) and Yvette Garcia (237 pounds), with Flores (26-17) just missing a Masters gold medal following a 1-0 loss to Selma’s Marina Hernandez. Garcia (21-8) was pinned in the finals by Ridgeview’s Fernanda Canedo. Jenniyah Duarte placed sixth at 102 pounds and is a state alternate.

Sanger West’s Mia McMilland became the school’s first-ever state qualifier with a fourth place finish at 107 pounds. She posted a 3-2 record, reaching the semifinals before losing a 6-1 decision and then being edged by a point in the third place match.

Senior Arroyo improved his season record to 36-11 by working his way back from a second round loss to finish in ninth place, securing a top 10 state qualifying bid. He pinned Redwood’s Gunner Benedict in the second period of the ninth place match.

GIRLS SOCCER

Bishop Union 6, Reedley 0

In Bishop on Feb. 15, the second-seeded Broncos routed the No. 7 seed Pirates (12-8-8) to close out the season. Two days earlier, Reedley had pulled out a dramatic 3-2 home shootout victory over Pioneer Valley on Real Morales’ goal and a miss on a potential tying shot.

Sophomores Sienna Ramos and Iliana Perez scored in regulation for Reedley against Pioneer Valley, but after Morales’ decisive goal the team was unable to find the net against Bishop Union.

Kerman 3, Dinuba 1

At Kerman on Feb 13 , the No. 14 seed Emperors (12-9-6) were eliminated from the Division III playoffs as the third-seeded Lions (13-9-5) got two goals from sophomore Briseyda Tovar and a score from sophomore Baylee Melgoza. Dinuba finished 1-6-3 in West Yosemite League play after an 11-2-3 preseason start, dropping three matches by one goal and settling for three ties.

Torres 5, Orosi 1

At Madera on Feb, 13, the top-seeded Toros (11-12-4) ended the season for the No. 16 seed Cardinals (14-8-5) by scoring five first half goals in the opening round of the Division V playoffs. Orosi captured the East Sequoia League’s Redwood Division championship with a 7-0-1 record, with losses coming to Reedley and Dinuba.

BASEBALL

Reedley rallies past Dinuba in season opener

Reedley High rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring three runs to post a 6-5 walkover victory over Dinuba High in the season opener for both teams on Feb. 15 at RHS diamond. Donovan Mariscal went 2-for-3 and drove in the decisive run on a double.

Maston Cisneros picked up the pitching victory while Darren Ortiz finished 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI. Reedley plays Golden West on Feb 21 in Visalia and hosts San Joaquin Memorial at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.

For Dinuba, Matthew Guido went 2-for-3 with a solo home run while Derek Hernandez scattered three hits and struck out seven in five innings. The Emperors (0-2), who lost 13-0 to Central Valley Christian on Feb. 13, play at El Diamante (Feb. 20) and Sierra Pacific (Feb. 21) before hosting Sanger in a 1 p.m. start on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Jon Earnest
Reporter