Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

Glad we don't live by the Mayan calendar around here. Otherwise, we'd be talking about the final year of local sports, but there's many more coming (and 2013 should be quite interesting -- more on that later this week).

2012 definitely had some peaks and, unfortunately, some valleys, just like years past. A few of them stick out in my Best of 2012 in Elk Grove-area sports:

1. Sheldon's boys' basketball team made it to the Division I State Championship game.  They lost to a superior opponent in Mater Dei, 66-48.  That was the Monarchs' ninth state championship in basketball, a record.

Kaitlin Reinhardt, now at UNLV, was the difference for Mater Dei scoring 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Sheldon got a great performance out of Nate Iese and Ky Thomas in the title game, until they and Ryan Manning got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out.

Unfortunately, the game will be remembered by some of the worse officiating I've seen in quite a while.  Sheldon was whistled for 25 infractions, Mater Dei 13.

What made it worse was the language I heard coming out of the stands. It was plain ugly. Since when is a "boo" not enough?

To get to Power Balance Pavilion, site of the State Championships, Sheldon had to defeat Jesuit twice, once for the Section championship and once again in the NorCal Tournament title game.

2. Franklin's and Elk Grove's excellent football seasons. The Herd's only regular season loss was to the Wildcats, but they made it to the Division II Sac-Joaquin Section championship game where they were rolled by Folsom.

Running back Robert Frazier gained more than 2,000 yards in his senior season.

Franklin had its first-ever 10-0 regular season, but injuries to key people caused them to lose to the eventual D-I state champion, Granite Bay, in the Section semi-finals.

Joey Banks was a terrific linebacker and Trevon Lampley was one of the best receivers in the Section.

3. Sheldon's softball team won its fourth Section championship over the past six seasons and its third in a row. This was the first season, though, with either Jolene or Danielle Henderson in the lineup.

They almost didn't make the playoffs. A walk-off grand slam by Pleasant Grove's Kaylen Minnatee, a freshman, in the final regular season game gave the Eagles a 4-2 win over the Huskies and second place in the Delta River League. Sheldon then had to wait about an hour to see if Ponderosa would defeat St. Francis. They did giving the Bruins the DRL title, its first, and via a tiebreaker, Sheldon got the third-seed out of the league.

That's when Mary Jo Truesdale's girls found their bats and ten-runned just about every team in the playoffs including Ponderosa in the championship game.

Meme Moore and Alexis Cooper were the top Huskies players.

4. Franklin's baseball team won the North Division I Section championship. Though they lost to St. Mary's in the best two-out-of-three Section championship series, the Wildcats behind the coaching of brothers Bryan and Brad Kilby got hot at the right team.

They used the pitching of Josh Pigg, Tyler Blake and Kyle Von Ruden along with timely hitting by freshman Hank LoForte and third baseman Ryan Sarginson to beat Pleasant Grove, Elk Grove, Davis and Vacaville in the North Section tournament.

Elk Grove's Dave Smith threw a no-hitter in the opening round against Napa, but the linescore will show Ryan Tellez as the starting pitcher for the Herd. Tellez walked the first batter, then on his first pitch to the next batter he strained his elbow and had to be removed. Smith came off the bench and after a warm-up period mowed down the Napa batters over seven innings to earn the school's second-ever  no-hitter in the playoffs.

5. Pleasant Grove's girls golf team, for the first time ever, qualified for the NorCal Tournament and Franklin's girls golfers, for the first time ever, won the Delta Valley Conference championship.

Pleasant Grove finished just one stroke out of qualifying for the State Golf Championship at the NorCal. Sarah Debnekoff led the Eagles by firing a 74 and was just two strokes away from qualifying as an individual at the State tournament.

Franklin was led by sophomore Kylie Fong and freshman Gurman Kaur. In the rain and wind on Oct. 22, the Wildcats finished fifth as a team at the Division I tournament, one place out of qualifying for the Section Masters' tournament.

6. Elk Grove's wrestling team qualified eight grapplers for the State Wrestling Championships. It was the most ever in that school's storied history of mat competition.

"We wrestled like men," head coach Pat Coffing remarked of his squad's performance at the Section's Masters Tournament the week prior. "We were not going to be denied."

Unfortunately, none of the eight EGHS wrestlers placed at the State Meet.

7. Monterey Trail's girls' basketball team won the Delta Valley Conference championship, the school's first.

The Mustangs were 21-5 last season, wrapping up the DVC title Feb. 17 in a big 71-52 win over Grant. The girls celebrated afterwards by coming out of the locker room wearing conference championship T-shirts to an awaiting cheering crowd of parents and supporters.

A few days later the thrill of the season was quenched when Monterey Trail was upset by perennial power St. Francis in the opening round of the playoffs.

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