Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm lovin' it... just not before a game

Let's hope no McDonald's executives are reading this blog.

Why? Because Atascadero High girls basketball standout Hannah Donaghe was presented with a certificate Tuesday by the fast food corporation for being nominated for the McDonald's All-America team.

Then she went to Subway for her pregame meal.

"You can't eat McDonalds before the game," Donaghe said. "I'll get heartburn or something."

OK, Jared. You stick to your sandwhiches. But it might cost you a spot on the team. (If any McDonald's people are reading this, I want to let you know I'm immeasurably proud that my hometown is the site of the very first McDonalds franchise.)

Seriously though, Donaghe does have an outside shot to make the All-America team. She is one of 2,500 nominees according to Greyhounds coach Paul Hill, and only 24 will make the final cut.

Even if she doesn't make it, Donaghe is a lot closer to No. 25 than she is to No. 2,500. Its not as if her parents nominated her. Hill said he got a call out of the blue from someone in North Carolina that informed him of the honor last month. Donaghe, a Stanford signee, was rated the 44th best senior prospect (23rd among guards) by scout.com before the season, and her numbers have improved from the ones she posted her junior year — the ones that earned her the rankings.

Check out her stats from this year and last year.

From here, there are several more cuts as the nomination process continues. Final teams are expected to be released in mid-to-late February, and the game will be played in Louisville, Ky., on March 28.

The Best Eats

Normally, I'll grab a bite before I head to a sporting event — mainly because snack bars at high school games tend to be a little overpriced.

If I were a parent, I wouldn't mind parting with $5s for a bag of Skittles and a slice of cold pizza. The money all goes back to girls soccer uniforms and other worthy causes.

But I'm not even married.

Still, every once in a while, I'll sample the high school cuisine if something piques my interest. And the best item I've had on the Central Coast comes from Atascadero.

The booster burritos at the gymnasium are spectacular. Picture a big flour tortilla wrapped around a heaping portion of beans, rice and your choice of meat, plus chips and salsa. They came heartily recommended and I gleefully wolfed my first one down Tuesday.

I took that $5 and lived it up.

So now, I'm a little more open to trying out some high school snack bars. Are there any other must-eats around here? Any high school venue, any time. Throw out some suggestions.

Verbal Remedies

Atascadero High's Brandon Roberts, an All-County tight end and linebacker on the Greyhounds' league championship football team, told me Tuesday he made a verbal committment to attend Cal Poly.

Since nobody else knows yet, I'll call it a Tribune/Bloggin' with Scroggin exclusive. Editors like when we write that.

Roberts had been getting recruiting attention from Pac-10 schools and was favoring Stanford before coach Walt Harris was fired and replaced by Jim Harbaugh. Last we'd spoken, he had narrowed his choices to Columbia and the Mustangs.

Roberts, 6 feet, 2 inches and 215 pounds, is currently coming off the bench for the Atascadero basketball team. Here are his football stats from this past season: 12 touchdowns (6 receiving, 5 rushing and 1 on defense), 24 receptions for 485 yards and 54 tackles on defense.

So Mustangs fans, what do you think? Can Roberts be a difference-maker at Cal Poly?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

PTPers face off

I asked Nipomo's Dominique Saunders (28.4 points per game) and Atascadero's Danny Thomas (18.5 ppg), the PAC 7's two leading boys basketball scorers, to size each other up as shooters.

Not only are both the "go-to" guys of their teams. The two have similar games. Both drive the basket, hustle for putbacks down low and can just as easily step out and shoot the 3.

No strangers, here's what they said about each other after meeting on court for the first time this season, a 58-48 Greyhounds win Tuesday.

Said Thomas (on Saunders): "He's a good scorer. He scores whenever he wants, and even as kids growing up, he was the same way. He's stronger with the ball in the post and he has a quicker first step. I think I'm a better shooter than he is, but I'm not sure."

Said Saunders on Thomas: "He's quick, and he has a good first step. If he makes a move, and you don't move with him, he's around you. We both drive to the basket, but the difference with him is he plays point for his team. I'm basically on the wing."

Though personally outscored by Saunders 23-18, Thomas got the first laugh with the win Tuesday, but the two will meet again in the regular season finale Feb. 9 in Atascadero.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Watch out for the speedbumps

Losing focus is a big problem in sports. Look at the Ohio State football team.

When the matchup was first announced, nobody had the Buckeyes losing to Florida in the BCS national championship game. Then the Gators actually won 41-14 Monday.

That's what happens when everyone tells you you're the greatest uninterrupted for 50 days.

And the Atascadero High wrestling team has to be feeling like it's the best right now. The Greyhounds have soundly beaten Nipomo and Righetti, the two PAC 7 teams that have the lineups to challenge their own.

Atascadero is even riding the high of taking its own New Year's Revolution tournament, dethroning three-time defending champ Chaparral (Parker, Colo.) in the process.

"I think we've beaten the most difficult teams and we've pretty much secured the league title," Greyhounds 160-pounder Blake Willard said after Atascadero took apart the Titans 57-9 on Wednesday. "We just have to keep our heads straight."

Willard's right about it all, especially about staying motivated.

They're the front-runners, and the Greyhounds can't lose focus now. They feel like they've already won, but there are still three PAC 7 opponents looming — Pioneer Valley, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Then comes the league finals.

Even though they seem like gimmes, wrestling is the touchiest sport. All it takes is a lazy day or two to risk failing to make weight.

"Who've we got this week? The Tigers? Oh, a little dressing on the salad this time won't matter."

BAM! — Next thing you know, the scales are tipping and you're sitting out. Some JV guy steps in, and who knows what's going to happen.

Atascadero looks to have a smooth road ahead, but sometimes the speed bumps that do the most damage to your undercarriage are the ones that don't get painted with the yellow lines.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The sport that doesn't get cancelled

The swollen clouds overhead looked like they could barely contain what had to be a great lake's worth of water up there.

And some of us at The Tribune wondered if the prep girls water polo tournament at Arroyo Grande High was going to be postponed or canceled.

"Pshht, please," I thought in my best Ozzie Guillen impression.

While sports editor Melissa Geisler offered to call ahead to make sure I wasn't driving out to A.G. for nothing, I declined and hopped in my car.

To no surprise, when I got to the Eagles' new swimming complex (which is quite nice by the way), howling wind was threatening to blow over canopies, the No. 2 graphite clouds hung menacingly ...

... and the girls were in the pool warming up.

In case you didn't know, neithern rain, nor sleet, nor snow — nothing can stop water polo.

Not even lightning canceled a game a few years ago, Arroyo Grande coach Steven Allen said. It was interrupted by a couple of 30-minute thunderstorm breaks, but 2 1/2 hours after the game started, it was in the books.

"I've seen pretty bad hail," Allen said, "going in hard where it kind of looks like snow."

And because this is how they do it in the CIF-Southern Section, the girls get it worst. They play in the winter while the boys play in the fall.

Eagles junior Erin Higginbotham acted as if the dark skies were business as usual, even calling it "perfect water polo weather." But she can't deny scampering straight from the post-game handshake over to the Arroyo Grande changing room.

"It gets pretty miserable," Atascadero coach Mitch Stafford said. "I don't know how the girls do it. Guys, it's like board shorts and sandals all season."

They play in the wind. They play in the fog. Water polo versus the hurricane? I'll take water polo.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

There's gonna be a showdown

OK, this blog is about soccer — But don't click "back" yet.

Even though they're played on the same field locally, I know there's less interest in the pitch than the gridiron. Evidence: soccer ratings and attendance figures in the United States.

Also, I haven't gotten any complaints when soccer scores haven't been called in. Meanwhile, someone gets ommitted from a two-paragraph basketball roundup and it's the armageddon.

But hear me out on this one.

The PAC 7 boys soccer title may be in the balance Friday when Paso Robles (13-1-2, 2-0 PAC 7) hosts San Luis Obispo (14-2-1, 1-1 PAC 7).

The Bearcats and Tigers are off to great starts this season, and this game really makes things interesting. A Bearcats win gives them a cushy two-game lead in league play, putting pressure on San Luis Obispo and the rest of the PAC 7 to be perfect the rest of the season in hope of winning a championship.

But a Tigers win brings the Bearcats right back down to Earth, knotting them in the league standings. By Saturday, there could be a four-way tie for the PAC 7 lead and only three playoff spots to go around if San Luis Obispo pulls the minor upset.

Keep an eye on this race as it heats up.

Alright, now you can click back.