Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas tradition

It's right up there with Rudolph, mistletoe and decking the halls: Hannah Donaghe getting injured.

For the third season in a row, the standout senior Atascadero High girls basketball player will be missing December games because of an on-court injury.

In 2004-05, knee tendonitis sidlined her for 12 games. Last year, an ankle sprain kept her out for eight. And after banging hips with an opposing player in Friday's 52-40 win over defending league champion Righetti, Donaghe's been diagnosed with a knee strain that's expected to keep her out of somewhere between three and six games.

It's jokeworthy only because the injuries aren't extremely serious. This blog would have a decidedly more somber tone if the Stanford-bound Donaghe's career was in jeopardy.

Greyhounds coach Paul Hill was not joking when he was ejected after an altercation with Righetti coach Harold Oliviera as Donaghe lay writhing in pain in the third quarter.

Hill missed the fourth quarter and sat out Wednesday's 46-41 loss to West Bakersfield in accordance with CIF regulations.

As he returns to the bench today, he has to be concerned about the impact Donaghe's void will have on a team hoping to win its first league title in nine years.

Atascadero (9-2) is 2-0 in PAC 7 play after beating Righetti, the preseason favorite to win after returning Cal Poly signee Kristina Santiago, and Arroyo Grande, last year's second place team in the PAC 5.

But Donaghe, the leading scorer on the Central Coast with 24.2 points per game, is expected to miss one league game and might not be her usual self immediately when she returns.

By the end of the season, Donaghe could end up with a slew of Most Valuable awards and All-this-and-that honors. But the way her teammates respond while she mends up could make the Greyhounds as a title team — or break them.

Their happy New Year depends on it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

End of an era

Jon Huss doesn't have much use for the details. At least not the ones I kept asking about.

The 25-year Arroyo Grande football coach retired this week, and that's what I remember most about this past season.

What was his career record? Who was the Arroyo Grande single-game rushing record-holder and how many yards did he have? When was the last time the Eagles failed to make the playoffs?

All these questions came up somtime during the five months I've known him. Each time, Huss didn't know the answers — and each time, it didn't seem to bother him.

I kind of needed to know these things because the phrase: "Arroyo Grande hasn't made the playoffs since sometime circa the height of Hammer Time." just isn't going to cut it with the boss.

We actually do have to be 100 percent accurate in our figures.

But even though it meant a little more work on my part, it didn't bother me when Huss didn't have the answers.

The longest conversation I think we ever had was after a football practice leading up to the reguar season finale with rival San Luis Obispo when a the topic about playoff conquests of the past finished off with what a bunch of players was doing these days.

None of them were Jamie Martin. The NFL quarterback would be the easy one to keep track of. But the Average Joes who went on to be ranchers, coaches, dads.

He hadn't forgotten those details.

But since I was only around for one of the 25 years, mine can't be the best perspective. What are your favorite Huss moments?

Friday, December 15, 2006

The good luck guy?

It wasn't long after Mission Prep's impressive 69-64 boys basketball win over perennial power Crenshaw in the Royals' eighth annual version of their Christmas tournament that I realized, I've never witnessed a Mission Prep loss.

That's right. I was at Cowitz Court for two rounds of CIF-Central Section playoffs at the end of last season, and I also covered the first two rounds of the Southern California regional playoffs in San Luis Obispo. All four were Royals victories. It got eerie when Mission Prep came back from being down double-digits against a state power in my presence Friday.

But whether I'm the lucky charm, or if the Royals just have a good home-court advantage, the most important thing to remember is that it was college beat reporter Brian Milne who covered Mission Prep's loss in the Southern California regional final in Fullerton last March.

I heard Milne broke a mirror that day. Direct all complaints to him here

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Today's weather calls for blog

Tribune photo by Jayson Mellom.

I've been laying low the past couple of weeks (notice the drop-off in blog posts?). But BWS — Bloggin' with Scroggin — is back for the winter season. Expect update frequencies to spike like the monster waves hitting the Central Coast right now.

Today's 15-foot westerly swell is my early take on the boys basketball picture.

While on a break from the blog, I was able to see almost every San Luis Obispo County boys team play and I've handicapped a handful of them — a la our Tribune's Top 10 high school football media poll.

Except since it's my blog, I'm the only medium that voted. But enough about me, on to the kids and the rankings.

1. Nipomo (5-1) - Led by smooth scorer Dominique Saunders (28 points per game), the veteran Titans made an early-season statement by winning Morro Bay's Ted C. Harding Invitational Tournament, beating rival Arroyo Grande for the first time in school history in the process.

2. Mission Prep (5-0) - With senior center Luis Santiago back (12 ppg), the Royals might have the best mix of talent and experience, but behind sticky-fingered junior point guard Andrew Richardson (3 steals per game), there isn't much ball-handling depth.

3. Arroyo Grande (4-2) - Point guard Lyle Parsons has poise to spare, and the Eagles have as much, if not more, height across the board than any other local team. Freshman Tanner Hinek (6 feet, 5 inches) has been a great addition spelling 6-7 center James Tringham.

4. Atascadero (4-2) - Danny Thomas (23.2 ppg) and Andrew McMillian (17.8 ppg) are combining to score 41 points per game. If any of the three others hovering between 6 and 7 step up during a given game, the Greyhounds can beat anybody in the county.

5. San Luis Obispo (5-4) - Nathan Breneman (15.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has emerged as one of the county's premier big men, and second-leading scorer Conner Reese (8.9 ppg) is in the top three on the team in every major statistical category aside from blocks.