Sanger boys stumble out of gate in CMAC play

Apaches open with loss at Bullard before falling at home to defending champion San Joaquin Memorial; Dinuba boys off to 2-0 start in West Yosemite League

Sanger High guard Andres Villarreal (1) tries to get up a shot past the defensive pressure of San Joaquin Memorial’s Abram Potts (2) during the Apaches’ 64-44 loss to the Panthers in their County Metro Athletic Conference matchup on Jan. 12 at Nicholson Gym. (George Armenta)
Jon Earnest
Published January 15, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – The Sanger High boys basketball team’s prospects at a potential County Metro Athletic Conference championship were dealt a bruising early one-two punch in last week’s opening games of play.

After dropping a 62-50 decision at Bullard High on Jan. 9, the Apaches (11-8, 0-2) were overpowered by defending champion San Joaquin Memorial, 64-44, at SHS’ Nicholson Gym on Jan. 12. Five Panthers (12-7, 1-1) scored in double figures, led by guard Abram Potts (17 points, six rebounds, five assists) and wing Julius Olenrewaju (16 points, 15 boards, five assists).

Sanger entered 2024 with the momentum of the Clovis Elks Classic Championships, but the Division II Apaches entered a gauntlet of three games against Division I schools Clovis East (12-7), Bullard (14-6, 2-0) and San Joaquin Memorial. The team battled Bullard evenly for a half before the wheels came off offensively and defensively.

Seniors Caleb Ramirez and Nolan Wilison scored 15 and 10 points, respectively, to lead Sanger. Marquis Cropper had five rebounds and five assists.

Sanger was outscored by 11 points in the second half of the road loss to Bullard. Willison, who earned Clovis Elks Classic MVP honors, scored eight of his team-high 14 points in the final quarter but the Apaches never were able to make a late run. Cropper and Ramirez, both all-tourney selections in Clovis, finished with 10 points apiece.

Bullard’s Damon Felder led all scorers with 20 points. The Knights followed that victory with a 75-38 rout of Justin Garza High on Jan. 12.

Sanger continues CMAC play this week with two road games; at Edison (10-9, 2-0) on Jan. 16 and at Garza (10-11, 0-2) Friday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. The Apaches’ next home game is Wednesday, Jan. 23 against Madera (11-10, 1-1) in a 6:30 p.m. start.

Emps down Hanford, Tulare Western

Dinuba High’s boys are off and running in West Yosemite League play, collecting victories over Hanford (55-50 on Jan. 10) and Tulare Western (67-59 on Jan. 12). The Emperors (17-3, 2-0) rallied from behind with a 17-11 run in the final quarter in Dinuba against the Bullpups (7-12, 1-1), with Josiah Ochoa scoring eight of his 11 points in the period and Javier Torres finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists. 

Junior guard Ochoa then erupted for 27 points — draining eight 3-pointers — with 17 in the first half as Dinuba grabbed a six-point on the road against the Mustangs (11-9, 1-1). The Emps then held on the rest of the way, with Torres delivering eight assists on the night and scoring 13 points while Joseph Lopez, Angel Sanchez and Brice Watley all added eight points. Kaine Garcia and Michael Johnson scored 20 and 15 points, respectively, for Tulare Western.

Dinuba has an early season first place showdown against Lemoore (14-6, 2-0) on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at DHS gym before traveling to Tulare for a Friday, Jan. 19 7:30 p.m. game against Tulare Union (10-9, 0-2).

Immanuel hangs on to down Reedley

At Reedley High gym on Jan. 10, the Eagles (10-9, 2-0) held off a fourth quarter rally by the Pirates (10-11, 0-1) to start a successful opening week of Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division play. Immanuel then followed up with an 80-63 triumph at Exeter on Jan. 12.

Senior Tad Tibbett scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the opening quarter, then added six more points down the stretch. Mikah Tolpezninkas scored 18 points and Caden Joseph added 17 points, with Joseph scoring eight in the third period. Ryan Velasquez scored 12 of his 22 points in the second half for Reedley, Zeek Curiel scored 12 points while Adrian Lopez added nine points.

Against Exeter, Immanuel shot 53 percent from the field and held a 33-23 rebound advantage while collecting 13 steals. Tad Tibbett finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and four steals. The Eagles have two TCC home games this week, hosting Selma on Jan. 17 in a cross-division matchup and then hosting Washington Union at 6:30 p.m Friday, Jan. 19.

Reedley traveled to Hanford for a TCC cross-division game on Jan. 12, and lost 82-30 to Sierra Pacific as the Golden Bears (10-8) bolted to a 30-4 lead after one quarter. The Pirates have conference road games this week at Washington Union (Jan. 17) and Central Valley Christian (Friday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.).

Sanger West still seeks first NYL win

Sanger West (9-9, 0-4) enters this week still searching for its first North Yosemite League victory, and will host fellow 0-4 school Torres High at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 at Sanger West gym. The Hornets trailed by 10 points at halftime against McLane (11-7, 3-1) on Jan. 11 before losing by an 82-55 score.


Reedley girls off to 2-0 start in conference

Reedley High’s girls swept their way to victories at Washington Union (68-41 on Jan. 9) and home against Central Valley Christian (51-36 on Jan. 11) to open Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division play last week. The reigning Division V section champion Pirates (12-8, 2-0) have won five of their past six games since a four-game losing streak in early December.

Nine different players scored for Reedley in the victory over CVC, led by senior guard Raquel Cortez (12 points) and senior forward-post player Ana Drolette (10 points). At Washington Union, the Pirates seized immediate control with a 25-9 run in the first quarter and continued to increase the lead.

This week, Reedley has TCC home games against Sierra Pacific (Jan. 16) and Selma (Thursday, Jan. 18, tipoff TBA). The Pirates then will play at Exeter High in a 6:30 p.m. start Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Sanger West tops McLane for first NYL win

Sanger West’s girls (6-12, 1-3) collected their first-ever North Yosemite League basketball win, downing McLane High by a 34-29 score in Fresno on Jan. 14 powered by a 14-8 run in the third quarter. The Hornets picked up their second win in three outings, after beating Yosemite to close out the Reedley Holiday tourney last month.

Sanger West hosts North Yosemite League co-leader Fresno on Jan. 16 before traveling to Madera to take on Torres High at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18.


Pirates boys unbeaten in TCC with two big wins

Reedley High (11-4-1 overall) came alive offensively to win its two opening Tri-County Conference road matches. The Pirates cruised past Selma 4-1 on Jan. 10, getting two goals from senior Esteban Baca along with scores from Jose Magallon and Alessandro Lopez. They then prevailed 3-2 at Kerman on Jan. 12, getting goals from Eduaerdo Vasquez, Magallon and Lopez.

Reedley, which has won five of its last six matches, hosts Washington Union (Jan. 17) and Exeter (Jan. 19) in scheduled 6 p.m. starts at Reedley Soccer Complex.

Sanger boys trounce SJM, Garza

Sanger High has rebounded large from a loss last month at Edison to open the County Metro Athletic Conference season. The Apaches (10-4-2, 4-1) last week rolled past San Joaquin Memorial (6-0 on Jan. 10) and Garza (2-0 on Jan. 12) in home matches.

Sanger scored three times in each half in the rout of the Panthers (3-14-2, 0-5), then added goals each half against the Guardians (8-8-1, 3-2). This week, the Apaches play at Madera (Jan. 17) and then host McLane (Friday, Jan. 19, 5:30 p.m.).

Apaches girls off to 2-0 CMAC start

Sanger (10-2-2, 2-0 CMAC) scored 10 goals in its two conference matchups last week; 5-0 victories over San Joaquin Memorial (Jan. 9) and at Edison (Jan. 11). Junior Ari Avalos had three goals against the Tigers while Andrea Alvarenga and Ava Martinez scored two goals each against the Panthers.

The Apaches, who had a scoreless draw against Clovis North (10-3-2) on Jan. 6, host Madera in a 5:30 p.m. CMAC contest at Tom Flores Stadium on Thursday, Jan. 18.

Jon Earnest