Thursday, September 04, 2008


This blog has moved!

For all the new high school blog posts, head on over to THE PREPS BOX.

Erick has been posting new topics there and would appreciate some feedback.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Say Hello to Erick Smith

Alright, since high school and college sports are officially over for the summer, it's time for some summer cleaning.

Starting next fall, not only will this blog be getting a new look — a makeover — but your author is changing as well.

The tentative plan (plans are always tentative in the newspaper business) is for staff writer Erick Smith to take over the high school duties in the fall.

That's him up at the top of this post. Doesn't working with me look like such a blast?

I'm preparing to try and fill Brian Milne's shoes on the college beat come football season.

In my two plus years so far in SLO County, one of my favorite parts of the job has been watching this blog grow.

I appreciate every reader out there who takes the time to visit and post comments. Our interaction has made The Tribune's sports coverage much stronger and has really helped me do a better job.

I don't plan on stepping completely away from high school sports, and I'll help Erick out where I can, but I'm also looking forward to the different challenge of covering Cal Poly and Cuesta athletics.

I lay this gauntlet out for Central Coast prep sports fans: This blog had better not wane.

We've gone through some slow times, but the spirited debates, the comments, the polls and the general traffic have all opened up some eyes in The Tribune newsroom. High school sports has a fervent following, and I expect it to continue to show.

Check back for the new web addresses of both sports blogs in the future. And thanks for the time.

Leftovers from the year in sports

Since I'm going to be shifting over to another blog on another beat, I thought I'd empty my cache on this one.

The past year has brought some great behind the scenes sights and sounds. Here are a couple I didn't share from San Luis Obispo High.

Here's Tigers boys tennis singles player Charlie Fox's team picture. That team had a lot of seniors a lot of success and — as you can see — a lot of fun. It will be interesting to see how they do next year.

Going all the way back to football season, here's a shot of linebacker Nate Egan and his smashed up nose. I remember writing about it in a story, but the photo was kept hidden... until now!

And here is a pretty cool music video, my last on the prep beat, from behind the scenes at the Baseball/Softball Players of the Year photoshoot at Paso Robles High. Michelle Moses, John Brehm and photographer Joe Johnson star.

Paso Players of the Year: Photo Shoot

Apologies to John for the lyrics. It's the only photo shoot song I know. For those interested, the artist is Embassy Music Board and the song is aptly titled Pose. You can download it for free HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SLO High baseball trio get scholarships

Word from the "Bloggin' with..." pipeline is that San Luis Obispo High seniors Darren Mullen, Dan Howell and Robby Nadalsky have all inked letters of intent to play baseball at NCAA Division I schools next year.

Nadalsky wasn't a surprise. He'd announced his verbal commitment to Cal State Northridge long ago. Howell's late commitment was somewhat expected. He took a visit to Hawaii when I was going through All-County team stuff a couple weeks ago. Now, he's inked with the Warriors, said a source.

Mullen, the PAC 7 MVP and single-season Tigers record-holder for RBI, seemed resigned to attend either Palomar or Cuesta College next year.

Not so, in the end.

Out of the blue, Northridge made an offer after finding some newfound holes in its catching depth chart. So, Mullen will join Nadalsky and become a Matador.

Three guys from one team signing with D-I schools? When's the last time that happened around here? I know San Luis has had some talented teams in the past. Anybody recall three from one team making it big?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ryan Overland, Atascadero's CWS hero

That up there is Ryan Overland. He's shown in an Athlete of the Week photo taken in 2004, when Overland was a senior at Atascadero High.

Overland's now a senior at Fresno State. He homered in Tuesday's College World Series win over North Carolina, and I had a cell phone interview with him on Thursday talking about that feat and the Bulldogs' chances at a National Championship.

If Fresno State continues its Cinderella run and wins it all, that would put former San Luis Obispo County athletes on both the College World Series and Women's College World Series champs.

Arizona State's Katie Burkhart, a former SLO High star, pitched the Sun Devils to the softball title in the past month.

The unseeded Bulldogs winning the CWS would be a major coup few would have thought possible before the season or — heck — even two weeks ago. There are probably still doubters out there.

But Overland said his team is now getting a whif of what it would be like.

"The way we got here has given us a lot of confidence," the former Greyhound said. "We were in the toughest regional a lot of people were saying. Long Beach, San Diego and Cal. To go beat those teams and then go beat Arizona State, we already feel like we’ve beaten some of the best teams in the country."

To read more of what Overland had to say, CLICK HERE.

And if you didn't see it, here's the video of Overland's homer against the Tar Heels.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekly Derrick Jasper update: It's UNLV

Word broke Monday that former Paso Robles High standout Derrick Jasper has committed to transfer to UNLV.

I talked to Jasper today. You can read all about it in the Tuesday edition of The Tribune. But I wanted to give blog readers an early shot at responding to the news.

So have at it. He didn't visit any other schools. In the end, UCLA and Cal Poly, the two winners of our informal blog poll, didn't seem to have much of a chance. Here's your chance to debate or support Derrick's decision.

Or have at our choices for baseball and softball players of the year or the All-County team, which came out on Sunday.

It won't be long before this blog takes a little bit of a hiatus for the summer. We've got Jordan Hasay and the Olympic Trials to talk about, but things will get kind of quiet leading up to football season.

In a small piece of slocohighschoolsportsblog news: The blog is expected to get a new address before the fall and stay tuned for another major announcement.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Where would you like to see Derrick Jasper?

Talking to former Paso Robles basketball star Derrick Jasper yesterday, it seemed pretty clear he was carefully weighing his options since deciding to transfer from Kentucky.

He'll have to sit out a year if he transfers to an NCAA Division I university, but he'll also have two additional years of eligibility (and a redshirt year if necessary) once he sits out.

When word first spread about the potential for Jasper to leave the Wildcats, the school I originally thought of — and I'm just being honest here — was UCLA. Bruins coach Ben Howland is a noted defensive guru, and with Jasper's above-average size at point guard, defense and rebounding has been the former Bearcat's specialty in college.

As it turns out, there's been some interest from UCLA and Westwood could be a likely destination for Jasper. But it's not the only school that fits his criteria of wanting to get closer to home. Jasper also has several other schools he's considering, including San Diego State, UNLV, USC and Long Beach State among others.

He never mentioned Cal Poly, which is as close to home as you can get, but Jasper didn't sound as if he was ruling much out either at this early stage. He got his official release from Kentucky on Monday and said he expects to take as much time as needed to make the right decision.

Where would you like to see Jasper end up? Comment here and vote in the new poll.

CIF State Track: The Video

After reviewing the raw footage I took at this past weekend's track meet, I decided most of it was pretty boring. So instead of posting it all, I spruced it up with some music and production value.

The video stars Nipomo throwers Korben Boaz and Jeanette DeWitt as well as Templeton's Justin Cutler. It was completely shot and edited by yours truly. It's pretty rad, but just a warning for those who might suffer from kinetosis, there's lots of spinning.

I also took this nice photo of Tonie Williams standing with her CIF State medal (She placed sixth in the 400). Enjoy!

2008 CIF Track and Field Championships

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sights From the CIF State Track and Field Meet

I'm down here in Norwalk covering the state track meet. Read all the results of your favorite SLO County athletes in the Tribune or at
Blog readers will get all the extra stuff.

I'm armed and dangerous with my camera and hope to be posting videos of the action within the weekend.

Until those get up, here's an update.

I saw two stud high school basketball players at the meet. UCLA-bound senior Drew Gordon qualified fourth in the discus for tomorrow's final with a 180-foot, 2-inch throw. He's one spot behind Nipomo's Korben Boaz, who popped a personal-best 181-10.

I also ran by Compton basketball star Demar DeRozan, who was not competing but was watching in the stands, on my way out to interview SLO star Tonie Williams. I didn't have the time to ask if he was really going to renege on his commitment to USC.

Nipomo coach Matt Soenksen let me in on a superstition. His Titans caravan of throwers Boaz and Jeanette DeWitt stayed at the same Hilton and ate at the same meals at the same Mimi's Cafe as they did for last week's CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet, which was also at Cerritos College. He didn't say if they were bummed not to get the same parking spot at the stadium.

Now would be a good time to mention that the starting pistol scares the crap out of me every time it goes off. Come to a meet. I challenge you. Come to a meet, whip out a computer, type some stuff and just try to keep the solids in when the deafening POW! rattles your innards.

It'll be a surprise if the Central Coast athletes don't do well on Saturday. The weather conditions were vintage SLO County. The temperature was in the low 70s. It was sunny. And the wind was just strong enough to notice you didn't like it.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Clayton McDonald (Funny, I swear)

Sunday's story on Atascadero diver Clayton McDonald (READ HERE) and his battles with leukemia had a certain serious tone.

But here on the blog, I want to introduce readers to another side of Clayton. Yes, he's survived cancer three times. And one of the ways he's gotten through it all and remained sane has been with humor.

Check out this video and you'll see what I mean. Guaranteed laughs. (FYI: Clayton is the kid who's gonzo for Grad Night.)

Clayton and his friends have starred in a few other films. You can view the whole collection HERE.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baseball/Softball Players of the Year, Anyone?

The baseball and softball seasons are almost over, and the Templeton girls are the only ones still alive — again.

I figure it's the perfect time to poll the masses. Who in your mind deserves to be County Players of the Year?

As usual, weigh in on the online poll over to the right, but reason things out in the comment section.

I'll give a few contenders to get the ball rolling.

In baseball, you've got a few nominees, each with at least a small hole in his resume.

Mission Prep's Alex Detz batted .507, with just one more strikeout 6 than he had home runs 5, but the Royals did not play a great schedule.

Nipomo catcher Manny Reyes led the County with a .514 batting average and had good RBI totals, but his team fared poorly in PAC 7 play. Arroyo Grande catcher Lucas Kephart slugged six home runs, but was outdone by Reyes in a few other categories.

The All-County Team catcher spots will be interesting, especially considering San Luis Obispo catcher Darren Mullen — another POY candidate — had stats that looked like this at season's end: .479 BA, 4 HRs, county-leading 43 RBI.

But Mullen and the Tigers finished behind Paso Robles by 0.028 in percentage points for first place in the PAC 7.

The Bearcats' nominee has got to be pitcher John Brehm. The left-hander went 9-0 with five complete games, three shutouts and two saves. His ERA going into the playoffs was a microscopic 0.73. But he wasn't a heart-stopping power pitcher, and he didn't contribute a ton at the plate.

If Brehm ends up being the pick, it could be a Paso sweep.

Softball pitcher/shortstop Michelle Moses slugged 11 home runs, four more than the next closest county player. No one else in the PAC 7 had more than one.

Moses also led the league with 187 strikeouts despite being the only pitcher among the league leaders to have pitched fewer than 100 innings.

But Moses isn't all alone. Templeton's Kat Hicks, the 2006 Player of the Year, bested her with 193 strikeouts and was second in the county to Moses with a 0.52 ERA at the end of the regular season.

Both won league titles, but Hicks' team is still playing in the playoffs.

You make the call.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mott goes to mound, throws one more pitch for nets

Mission Prep two-sport standout Bob Mott is set to take the mound Tuesday in the CIF-Central Section Division V baseball semifinals against powerhouse Fowler.

Mott, many may remember, raised $2,335 in the past two years with a campaign to buy malaria nets for children in Africa. The Tribune covered his story each of the past two seasons as he used 3-point shooting as an incentive to fundraise.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne, flu-like illness, claims more than 1 million lives each year worldwide. Most of the victims are young children in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much of the danger of malarial mosquitoes can be eliminated through the use of bed nets like the one Mott has above.

Since a few people have e-mailed in to find out how they can contribute to the cause, I asked him about it after the Royals' quarterfinal win last week. Mott suggested logging on to, a Web site run by the United Nations Foundation that's raised money for more than 2 million nets.

Mott originally got the idea to raise money after both reading an article by former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly and taking a trip through one of the largest slums in Kenya. On a return trip last summer, he shot this video at an orphanage while playing soccer with some of the kids.

Kibagare — AMAZING soccer kid

Mott said he tried out some of the moves, but slipped and fell in the mud instead. He should stick to hoops. Check out this video of one of his monster dunks:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

SLO's Colonel Singles: Julian "Chicken" Arnold

He's San Luis Obispo High tennis' top singles player, the only one around here to ever take a set from Arroyo Grande's Andre Dome.

You'd think Julian Arnold would have some kind of macho nickname, like Duke or Hulk.

I've always liked boxer Juan "The Hispanic Causing Panic" Lazcano. With a name like that, who wouldn't?

But no, Arnold's matches are always accompanied by shouts of, "Let's go, Chicken!"

The origin of Chicken is disputed. Some say it's because the way Arnold holds his backpack, with his hands hooked onto the straps, it makes him look like he has chicken wings.

Others say he walks on his toes real chicken-like.

Whatever the reasons, it's stuck. And now the fans are starting to capitalize. This rubber chicken appeared on the chain link fence at last week's playoff match, and there's been talk of constructing a crude pen made of chicken wire for Arnold fans to sit in come this Tuesday's second-round playoff match.

Arnold doesn't seem fazed by the nickname — though I'm betting he secretly wishes it was something more like Orange Julian or something cool like that.

If you have any suggestions, I'll pass them along when I see him.

Anybody else remember any other local athletes with off-the-wall handles?

Cal Poly gets another local walk-on

The walk-on detractors aren't going to like this one.

Cal Poly sent out a news release announcing football commitments from three more players today, including former Hancock and Atascadero standout defensive back Neil Tidwell, who was admitted as an invited walk-on.

Good for Tidwell. I didn't see him play football for the Greyhounds, but I remember him concurrently playing baseball and running track as a senior at Atascadero. I'm still wowed by that.

But that's not all. Cal Poly's release didn't include Mission Prep's George Johnson, who said he's been invited to walk-on to the football team next fall.

"That's what I've always wanted to do since freshman year," said Johnson, who said Cal Poly coaches have already told him he has a secure spot on the team.

Johnson had 46 catches for 982 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior for Mission Prep. He averaged 122.8 yards per game.

Albeit at a small school, Johnson put up some numbers. He's relatively inexperienced at receiver and safety after having switched from quarterback during his junior year.

But he's very athletic and has good body control. I've personally seen him make some spectacular grabs.

Can he do it at Poly? We'll see. The Mustangs also have former SLO star Kevin Martin, who walked on last fall. It'll be interesting to see if either can settle into a role on the team.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dylan Royer and Cal Poly: A Commitment

This is what Dylan Royer has been waiting for.

The Morro Bay High senior standout and reigning Tribune San Luis Obispo County Basketball Player of the Year has been pretty reserved this year talking about his college options.

UC San Diego, Concordia, Westmont. Those were the types of schools Royer reported getting offers from. But just below the surface, there always seemed to be this hope a spot would materialize for him here at home. Royer secretly wanted to go to Cal Poly.

Today, the Mustangs reported they've accepted Royer as an invited walk-on for next season. Here are portions of Cal Poly's news release announcing the union.

Dylan Royer Commits to Cal Poly
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Kevin Bromley announced today that Morro Bay senior Dylan Royer has been accepted to Cal Poly as a incoming freshman and has verbally committed to play basketball for the Mustangs as an invited walk-on for the 2008-09 season.
Royer, the San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year, averaged 22.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds in leading the Pirates to 20-8 record and the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs.


“Having the county player of the year come to Cal Poly is fantastic,” said Bromley. “Dylan brings a tremendous amount of competitive sprit to the court and I love the way he shoots the ball. His unselfish play will bring a lot to the team.”


The release hasn't posted at yet, but if it appears, I'll try to link it. Look for more in Saturday's Tribune.

The move is bold. I like it. Royer most certainly could have gone on to a smaller college and contributed right away, maybe even had a star career. By choosing the Mustangs, he's taking a risk that he may not get much initial playing time if any by the end of his career.

College basketball walk-ons have historically been all over the map in terms of their career success. Some only stick for a year or two on the team. Some earn scholarships with solid performances. Some play well but are forced to transfer if things don't work out.

Look for the new poll: What do you think about Royer's chances at Cal Poly?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Going Out on Top

In the past two weeks, The Tribune has detailed Atascadero High diver Elizabeth Foran's fourth straight league and second straight CIF-Southern Section Division III titles.

What wasn't mentioned was her future.

In the post-meet interview Tuesday, Foran said she'll likely be quitting the sport as a competitior while she pursues a medical degree in college.

She said she'll do her undergrad work at UC San Diego, which does have a diving team. But with all of the expected coursework, she said she isn't thinking about trying out for the team until after her freshman year, if at all.

For someone who's been alternately participating in sports like gymnastics, competitive cheerleading and diving since she was six years old, Foran is feeling a little burnt out on the competitive aspect.

"I love it. I love practicve," Foran said of diving. "I love my team, but I hate competing. It’s just so much pressure on you... It’s just silent, and you’re up there by yourself, and you’re just like, 'Dang, I’m alone.' It’s just nerveracking."

In other college news, Nipomo basketball and track and field standout Jeanette DeWitt had a signing ceremony Wednesday at the school announcing her commitment to play basketball for NCAA Division II Sonoma State.

DeWitt is a two-time all-county basketball honoree, and got some mention for player of the year this season. In track and field, she's ranked fourth in the state in the discus with a top mark of 147 feet, 4 inches.

A relative late-bloomer on the throwing scene, DeWitt might've had an opportunity to continue her track career at a high level, but talking to her at the PAC 7 finals last week, I just got the impression that basketball is her first love.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Long Week

This week, there were championships galore in some of what trendy peeps in the biz like to call "non-ball" sports.

Diving, swimming, track and field — though technically, the shot is a ball.

Anyway, watching all three PAC 7 champonship meets was a blast, even though I feel like a raisin after taking in all the sun. But since you've read about these epic events in The Tribune for the past few days, I thought I'd shift gears back to baseball.

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande all have a shot at winning the PAC 7 title. The Bearcats have the inside track, but the Tigers are right there. The Eagles were more of a longshot leading into Friday's games, but are still in the race.

Who'll win the title? Who has the best shot in the playoffs? Are they one in the same?

If I had to pick one, I'd say San Luis Obispo has the best chance to win the title. The Tigers beat Paso Robles two out of three times and boast one of the toughest top-to-bottom lineups in recent memory.

But the playoffs are ruled by dominant pitchers, which San Luis Obispo — despite a stable of steady arms — doesn't really have.

Paso Robles' left-handed pitcher John Brehm had a 25-inning scoreless streak going before it was broken up by Righetti this week. He's 7-2 with and ERA of 0.72, and he struck out a season-high 10 batters in a 5-4 complete-game win over the Warriors.

The last time a dominant San Luis Obispo team took the title two years ago, it was Paso Robles, behind fireballing lefty Matt Drummond, that advanced farthest in the playoffs.

Arroyo Grande has some solid pitching, too. Nathan Raubinger has won five of his past six starts, but two of his three losses came to Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

Corey Butcher has a 2.18 ERA for the Eagles, but Arroyo Grande's supported him with an average of just 1.25 runs in his four losses. The Eagles are averaging nearly six runs per game otherwise.

What does all that mean? It could turn out that SLO makes the deepest playoff run. You decide. Vote in the polls.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A classic throwback

Arroyo Grande's epic four-game win over rival San Luis Obispo in boys volleyball on Tuesday had a very vintage feel to it.

A few of the players were sporting shaggy hairdos I remember donning in my K-Mart portriats as a toddler in the early 1980s, but most of the retro atmosphere had to do with the surroundings.

The game was played in the old gym. Yellow lights. Peeling paint. Four rows of stands. Rafters.

It just felt like it was played out in one of those grainy 1970s movies — like as if I was Dirty Harry, but instead of shooting criminals, I was taking notes. I still did the squinty-eyed Clint Eastwood sneer in case anyone was watching.

There were ideas floating around about why the match was moved to the smaller arena. The official match notes handed out with the program said it was to honor Earth Day. The new gym is apparently an energy hog.

Tigers coach Jon Hastings said his team just felt more comfortable there. It wasn't the first time this season San Luis Obispo had hosted a game in the old gym. It was the second.

After the game, Hastings spoke of benefit of crowding the fans closer to the court and closer to the action. It was louder and more inviting. He said he might explore moving the team there full time.

But the Eagles couldn't help but to feel a little put off by the move at first. (So was I, but only because I had to walk the extra 50 yards from the parking lot).

It seemed the Arroyo Grande team and I are the only ones who didn't get the memo because I walk out of the completely dark and empty new gym and see the Eagles, looking pretty ticked. I asked Trevor Salas where the game was being played and I just got mumbles and grumbles. It was in the old gym.

Hastings said it wasn't a psychological ploy to take Arroyo Grande off it's game. But even if it wasn't, it almost worked.

The Tigers had some kind of magic going in that stuffy old place. The Eagles started out strong, but by the second and third games, they looked flustered. They were clearly the more dynamic team, but their mojo was somehow being smothered by this invisible force.

Or maybe all those 70s vibes I was getting just had me unconsciously conjuring Star Wars. I don't know.

I guess the real reason for this blog is for me to say that if you weren't at the game, you missed one of the all-time greats. If you were there, you know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Changing the subject

Not that I don't like the Mission Prep debate and the theories on the ripple effects of Tom Mott's departure from the school in 2006, but I agreed with one of the posters who was looking for a new topic. And I've got one.

The Elks San Luis Obispo County Track Meet is this Saturday, and it'll be one of the few remaining chances for local fans to see Royals star junior Jordan Hasay.

Hasay, a junior distance runner who does most of her work outside the county's borders, is slated to run the 1,600-meter race. She already has the best time in the state at 4 minutes, 44.12 seconds, and at last year's county meet established a national best and set an all-time sophomore national record.

How about this for a poll? Who here's actually seen the phenom run? If you haven't, local track aficianados are always recommending that you do so while you can. Hasay is an Olympic level talent on track to be a superstar athlete, perhaps the best in any sport that's ever come out of SLO County. Soon, she'll be running for a top-flight college program — or in the pros.

She only runs a handful of local events each year and will be running at Cuesta on Saturday sometime between 10:30 and 11 a.m.

I'll have some more in-depth coverage on the meet and other events to watch in Friday's edition of The Tribune. Also, expect county basketball players of the year and all-county teams within the next week.

Oh, and feel free to talk Paso Robles football any time. Or three times.

P.S. I'm not a bum. Our sports editor was on vacation, and I was doing some fill-in work.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mission goes down

The Mission Prep girls basketball team fell 51-39 to Ross Branson in the Division V State Championship game at Arco Arena in Sacramento on Saturday morning.

As I sit here typing this, the Branson boys are beating Renaissance Academy 38-31 and are looking to make the Bulls a double winner for the second year in a row.

The Branson girls were amazing. They were tall, athletic, fast. It was a tough game for the Royals, who were down by 19 at one point in the third quarter.

Check out tomorrow's Tribune for a more in-depth recap of the game.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Coke vs. Pepsi

Personally, I go Coca-Cola. I find it a tangier, spicier option for big-boy soda drinkers. People like Mean Joe Green.

Pepsi is too sweet. I think Pepsi, I think Britney Spears, Ricky Martin. That curly-mop little girl with the dimples who spoke with celebrity voices.

Well, that little girl grew up, and I heard she drinks Coke now.

I also think Coke played a tougher non-conference schedule, and Pepsi is a ballhog. Pepsi was playing against softies like R.C. Cola and Albertson's Brand, while Coke was taking on Sprite.

It's easy to put up numbers on Mr. Pibb and Bubble-Up.

And we all know Pepsi recruits. Plus, if Pepsi weren't so tall, then it wouldn't get so many rebounds. Pepsi is also slow, and Coke has a better all-around game, more assists, steals.

Coke makes the team better. Pepsi isn't even being recruited.

What do you guys think?

Oh, and just for checking in, I'll pass along the state championship preview capsules I have been working on for tomorrow's paper. For loyal blog readers only.

Saturday, 9:30 a.m., at Arco Arena in Sacramento
No. 1 Ross Branson (28-7) vs. No. 2 Mission Prep (27-4)
Branson — The Bulls are the defending state champions after defeating Pacific Hills 51-36 for the program’s first-ever state title last year. Branson has been ranked No. 1 in Division V by all season long. Top players Rachael and Sam Bilney, senior sisters both headed to Richmond on basketball scholarships, have battled injuries this season. Sam missed most of the year with a knee injury, and a midseason hand ailment kept Rachel out until mid-January.
Mission Prep — The Royals are making their sixth state title appearance in program history and are going for their first win. None of the current players were on the team the last time Mission Prep advanced this far in 2004, a year after legendary coach Jay Cowitz died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Cowitz’s daughter Margaret, a senior, has been an emotional motivator for the team.
Branson — Rachael Bilney (6-foot swingman, Sr.) 17.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 36 percent 3-point field goals; Michela Bestwick (5-10 forward, Sr.) 10 ppg; Lauren Polanski (5-9 huard, Jr.) 10 ppg, 4.7 apg. 4.8 spg.
Mission Prep — Leigh Yetter (5-9 guard, Sr.) 14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 48 percent field goals; Erica Vesnaver (5-9 forward, Sr.) 7.6 ppg, 34 percent 3-point field goals; Jenna Caruso (5-7 guard, Jr.) 7 ppg.
Branson — “We can’t give (Branson) easy layups,” Mission Prep coach John Krossa said. They get a lot of easy layups from pressure, girls panicking. They do a trap and they pressure man-to-man. They play hard. It would be better for us to get a 5-second call than to panic and turn the ball over and give up a layup.”
Mission Prep — “If we’re on and we do what we’re capable of doing, we can play with anyone, and that includes them,” Royals forward Erica Vesnaver said. “It’s a very winnable game for us. We’re going to have to play very well.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Can't travel to Sacramento?

This Saturday's Division V girls basketball state championship game between Mission Prep and Branson starts at 9:30 a.m.

Can't make the 4- to 5-hour drive from San Luis Obispo County to make it in time? (Or don't wake up early enough on a Saturday even if you live in Sacramento?)

You can listen free to the live broadcast of the game on the internet at (Or you can buy an audio recording if you're in the 'I can't get up early' category.)

I sat next to the two guys who did the play-by-play for Mission's Southern California final win over Calvin Christian down in Santa Ana last weekend, and though I didn't really pay much attention to their broadcast, it seemed like they put a bit of work in to researching each team. They interviewed each coach before the game and asked me for a few details.

Hey, even if they're not any good at all, at least you'll know the score. Then you can log on to at halftime and immediately following the game for my breaking news updates. I'll also be blogging from Arco Arena, the site of the game, and, of course, you can read our in-depth coverage in Sunday's paper.

Oh, and vote in the new poll. It was a recent request by a comment poster on the girls basketball player of the year. You want it, you go it. (Though, technically, I asked the question of you readers like two weeks ago and got crickets.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

One of the funniest moments of the season

The Mission Prep girls beat View Park Prep in the So-Cal regional semis on Thursday night. The Royals are on to the regional finals for the 11th time since 1989. No biggie. They're ranked No. 1. They expect to be there.

Check out this anecdote though, the laugh out loud moment of the season.

Here's some forshadowing: At halftime, a small boy from from the View Park side who looked just days out of diapers was putting on a dance show near the media table. He was good. No doubt he could have served more than half of downtown SLO on college night.

And when he was doing his thing, the game was pretty close. It was up for grabs until Leigh Yetter took over with nine points in the third quarter, and Mission Prep outscored the Knights 14-2.

So to start the fourth quarter, the Royals student section starts doing that "We Will Rock You" stomp. You know. Stomp-Stomp, Clap! Stomp-Stomp,Clap! Like that.

Then the entire Mission Prep side of the stands starts doing it. It's pretty cool.

But it gets cooler when the other side of the gym, the people at the media table and the View Park fans look to the right of the Royals students — and guess who's cutting the rug all by his lonesome?

Yup, the Tear-da-club-up Toddler.

We all assumed after his team fell so far behind, he just switched sides.

To further the hilarity, an embarrassed-looking Knights fan had to run across the gym to grab the little boy and escort him back the View Park stands.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mimnaugh at Mission Prep

Cal Poly women's basketball coach Faith Mimnaugh was spotted at Tuesday night's Mission Prep girls basketball playoff game — a 41-13 win over Escondido Adventist in the CIF Division V Southern California Regional playoffs.

The rumor was Mimnaugh was there scouting the Royals senior forward Leigh Yetter, one of the front-runners for The Tribune's Jay Cowitz Award for County Player of the Year.

Yetter, the county's leading scorer at 15 points per game, shoots 47 percent from the field and averages close to seven rebounds a game.

Yetter didn't have her best game in front of Mimnaugh though, scoring just six points in a 41-13 Royals rout that didn't really require any of Mission Prep's starters to play well.

In terms of her college options, Yetter was soft-spoken in a recent interview.

Asked about her plans for next season after the Royals' won their 16th straight section divisional title this past Friday, Yetter said she hadn't gotten a lot of attention from college recruiters. She said she may decide a collegiate basketball career is not in the cards.

But she left the topic open-ended.

Mission Prep is favored to make it to the state title game. If the Royals do, it would be the first time since 2004 and the sixth time in program history.

And with Yetter and the six other Mission Prep seniors thinking this might be their final basetball hurrah, winning the team's first-ever state title would be the best way to go out.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dylan aiming for Division I

Since I got the low down from Paso Robles center David Cone on his college commitment, I also got in touch with Morro Bay guard Dylan Royer about his college opportunities — mostly to keep you faithful blog readers informed.

So here it is: Royer has not made any commitments. "I would love to play at the D1 level, and there are still a couple of possibilities," he said in an e-mail.

Royer said he has interest from Cal Poly and UC Davis at the NCAA Division I level and UC San Diego at Division II. NAIA schools Concordia and Westmont are also in the picture.

As a freshman in 2004-05, Royer was ranked as the 25th best prospect in Southern California by Since then, he's eclipsed 2,000 points at Morro Bay and has broken at least eight individual school records.

Royer led the Pirates to a 20-8 record and to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs. He scored 22.5 points, grabbed nearly 7 rebounds and averaged just under 2 steals per game while shooting 38 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line.

It would be a great storyline to follow the guy if he ends up at Poly. Heck, it would be very intriguing if he landed at Davis and came back to haunt the Mustangs in the end. But wherever he chooses, it's sure to be a great accomplishment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cone's college of choice

It's time to end some speculation and settle at least one argument that's raged on The Tribune' High School Sports Blog for a couple weeks.

David Cone is playing college basketball. But it won't be at a junior college OR an NCAA school — though he said he had options a few of both.

I caught up with the Paso Robles senior big man online Wednesday, and he confirmed that he has given a verbal commitment to play basketball in La Mirada next year at NAIA Division I school Biola University.

"I was getting recruited by a slew of schools," Cone said in an online message. "All the way from Washington St, all the Ivy league schools, Colgate in New York, Seattle University who is going from D2 to D1 next season, to JC's."

In the end, he said he's choosing Biola for his comfort with 27-year coach Dave Holmquist — who reminds Cone of Paso Robles 30-year coach Scott Larson — and his chance at playing substantial minutes early in his career.

Cone led the Bearcats to a 19-10 overall record (9-3 PAC 7) as Paso Robles improved vastly on a 2-21 record last season.

By notching team highs in both points per game (14.8) and rebounds per game (11), Cone led the Bearcats to a second-place league finish and helped get the team to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II-A playoffs.

"After talking with other schools, and those close to me I decided that Biola would be the best for me because they focus on the 'big man'," Cone said, "the Coaching is great, and I could go in and play substantial minutes including a good opportunity to start next season.

"Call me crazy for passing up D1 chances, but I really am happy with my decision, and I think it will be a great fit."

Some of you are sure to think he's crazy. Giving up a shot to play bigtime basketball for the inelegant NAIA circuit?

Especially still in the wake of Derrick Jasper-to-Kentycky era, this choice may seem small-fryish.

But Logan Budd told me way back when that he'd rather play football at FCS school Cal Poly than at FBS school San Jose State. Some people like the smaller pond, and it's no knock on you if you do.

College choices aren't always about sports. They're as much about happiness and comfort as anything else. And Cone seems pretty happy about Biola.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

See the best with your own two eyes

Three SLO County wrestlers will be competing in the CIF State wrestling meet this weekend.

We've already featured Morro Bay heaveyweight Jerome Long in this week's edition of "Athlete of the Week." The other two — 160-pounder Jordan Rubio of Arroyo Grande and 189-pounder Jack Robinett of Atascadero — will be featured in an edition of the paper later this week.

But if you've ever wondered what any one of these three guys looks like on the wrestling mat, good thing you read this blog, and good thing the guys at covered Morro Bay's CIT tournament earlier this year.

GO HERE to see videos of all three local wrestlers, including separate interviews with Long, Morro Bay coach Mike Aanearud and Pirates athletic director/football coach John Andree.

Long won his division at the CIT, and cited Atascadero's Brett Hiatt as his toughest opponent that weekend. Robinett fell in the finals with a chance to tie late in the match and Rubio took a loss to the eventual champion in the semifinals.

Must-see TV: Long's final match and his post-match interview.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Leak: PAC 7 girls soccer accolades

Word from Monday night's PAC 7 girls soccer meetings is that San Luis Obispo High hogged most of the honors.

A resounding "Doi!" going off in your head? Yeah, well, with a 27-1-2 final record, undefeated league and regular-season marks, the Tigers cemented their reputation as the best girls soccer team around. They were bound to come away with some serious spoils.

Here are a few of the honors according to a source inside the meeting.

League Most Valuable Player — Afton Thulin, San Luis Obispo

Co-Offensive Players of the Year — Jamie Council, Atascadero and Karlee Owens, Arroyo Grande

Defensive Player of the Year — Jessica Mortola, San Luis Obispo

Partial list of San Luis Obispo honorees
First Team All-PAC 7 — Jessica Mortola, Devon Carlstrom and Gracie Babcock

Second Team All-PAC 7 — Kiele Argente, Alessa Moscoso and Shannon Fontes

I'll try to get full lists out for soccer and all the rest of the sports as soon as they can be collected. Until then, continue with the Cone-Royer rantings. Or how about another question, this one might even be tougher: Who's the girls County Player of the Year?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rooting for arch rivals? I don't think so

The San Luis Obispo High girls soccer team came out of its post-game huddle Wednesday after a 1-0 win over Diamond Ranch in the second round of the Division III playoffs, and the first thing the Tigers hear is an update on the Arroyo Grande game.

The Eagles won 2-0.

"Urghhhh," was the collective harrumph that came from the disappointed SLO group.

Back at The Tribune office, editor Ashley Conklin took the phone call from the Eagles, who were equally bummed to hear how the rival Tigers won their playoff game.

I didn't get it at first. One of the first things I thought when I found out both teams won was "We'll have to plan some super coverage if they end up playing each other in the playoffs." (It'll happen if both teams win their next two games. They'd meet in the final round.)

But I'm thinking about it like a journalist. And as a reporter who covers both teams, I'd imagine it would be a grand spectacle to have two SLO County teams facing off for a championship.

Heck, fans will even root around sometimes. In the past couple weeks, I've seen Tiger Bill here and there. Except, one time, he was Eagle Bill. The other time, he was Royal Bill. He said he only switches caps during the playoffs.

I'm thinking of renaming him Ubiquitous Bill.

But players don't think that way, especially not in rivalries as bitter as the San Luis Obispo-Arroyo Grande one has become.

The Tigers and Eagles want to see the other one lose right away — maybe even get blown out for their troubles and humiliated on the way out.

It's not bad sportsmanship. It's passion. It's emotion. And it's so right on.

No, I'm not saying go out and burn your team's name into your rivals' grass field. But if you're a player, you're out there pushing and clawing — let's face it, that's what you do in most sports — there's no way you're going to ever bring yourself to root for a league rival.

A SLO player? Pull for AG? To borrow the rough spanish equivalent to when pigs fly, "Yeah, on goalkeeper's day."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CIF-SS boys teams are done. Now comes the hard part

By the look of the votes in the most recent poll and comments, it might boil down to a two-man race for the County Player of the Year between Morro Bay's Dylan Royer and Paso Robles' David Cone.

There are certainly others out there in the discussion, but for the sake of this blog, let's pretend there aren't for one day.

As of Tuesday night, both the Pirates and Bearcats were bounced from the playoffs in the second round of their respective CIF-Southern Section divisions. So there goes one way of comparing the two guys.

Both teams had 20 wins. Both made the second round. Neither won a league title. Team success — often a tiebreaker in many MVP-type discussions — is a push.

So, it has to come down to one-on-one comparisons.

I've seen both play within the past five days, and honestly, there could hardly be two more different players.

Royer, a four-year varsity starter who's amassed more than 2,000 points in his career, is a dangerous shooter without a conscience. He's got an uncanny knack for grabbing steals and is a very good rebounder, especially at his position. But his willingness to shoot from anywhere 20-feet-and-in at any time is what defines him. He only needs an inch of space and is just as adept driving to the basket as he is pulling up for a 15-footer or shooting a 3-pointer.

Cone, the last remaining Paso Robles Bearcat to have played with Derrick Jasper, is a prototype high school big man. He's got a couple go-to moves that are money in the post. Though a knee injury has limited his jumping and mobility, he makes up for it by playing smart. At least partly because of his size (he's listed at 6 feet, 9 inches), Cone is the most dominant defensive player in the county. But he also blocks shots with control, giving his team a great chance at recovering the ball.

A stone-cold shooter. A textbook big man.

Who's better? Who's more vaulable? Who deserves it more?

I hate ties. And I've never been fond of anything that begins with "Co-" (Sorry, Colorado). Somebody's going to win. But the Tribune does have a tough decision on its hands. Keep on voting.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's points to ponder from Paso Robles

Here are a few notes from the first round of the Southern Section boys basketball playoffs. I was in Paso Robles. Anybody who was at any other games, please give some color.

• David Cone has been a big topic of the posters these past couple weeks. Will he go D-1 in college? Won't he? Can he play against tough opponents? I'll say this about Friday's performance: Even though he was the biggest player on the court, he was challenged by some long, athletic big men.

Cone's response? 19 points, eight rebounds and at least five blocks. He was breaking the press. He's untrappable at the high school level. He'll definitely be playing college somewhere next year. At a J.C., a small four-year school. Heck, I've seen players with his frame go to D-I colleges, sit until their senior year and become impact players in the end. Some improved quickness and an outside jumper might earn him some more opportunities at higher levels.

• Though Paso Robles won its first-round game with a great fourth quarter, by the end of the third, Valley View had charged back, and the Bearcats looked ripe for the upset. Since North County Christian had already been bounced from the playoffs, I couldn't help but think, "Wow, I'm a moron. Two of the three teams I picked to go deep in the playoffs were goners. I knew I should have just stuck with the safe pick — the Mission Prep girls."

• To the Paso Robles Booster Club: Maybe look into investing in a new CD player for the gym. As reported in The Tribune's game story in the paper, the Bearcats' warmup music sounded like it was "chopped and screwed" by Yan Can Cook. It might've just been some scratchy CDs, but the disc reader didn't look very, uhm, modern.

On a side note, it's a sad commentary on the state of rap music today when three different songs can all scratch and skip in succession and a gym full of people just continues to bob its collective head as if it's just hearing a new remix or something. Thanks a lot, Derrty South.

• And finally — though my audio taped interview with Paso Robles coach Scott Larson somehow got erased from my digital recorder on the way out to the car — I can still hear the man's shouts ringing in my ears. Scott has to be one of the loudest in-game coaches I've ever heard.

During the craziest parts of Friday's game, I could look over at Valley View coach Jim Long and just see his mouth moving and hear nothing coming out. Then I'd gaze over at Larson, plug my ears and his shouts of, "He's PUSHIN' him!" still cut through to the heart of my eardrums.

It's a talent. I wish I could unleash that kind of yell at my cat when he's scratching the couch.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Paso Rollin'

You guys like the Bearcats.

Paso Robles took the plurality in the past two polls we've done on boys basketball.

The Bearcats' turnaround from the bottom of the PAC 7 last season to the second-place team this year ran away with your votes for most surprising run.

And Paso Robles was also the pick — though only by a single vote — to go the furthest in the playoffs.

Well, with the playoffs kicking off on this week, the time has come to find out if your predictions are right.

Mission Prep, the other team to rank highly in the playoff success poll, might have the most favorable road to a section title of any boys team, if only because the Royals compete in the CIF-Central Section Division V playoffs, the smallest division in a section made up primarily of teams from the Central San Joaquin Valley.

Here are the top three teams to watch in the playoffs (In no particular order):

• Mission Prep — The Royals boys and girls could be partying together again at the Central Section championships in Fresno. The bracket has yet to be released, but Mission Prep probably could have competed in the top half of the PAC 7. A focused Royals team should make it at least a couple of rounds deep in the playoffs.

• Paso Robles — The Bearcats have a decent draw in the CIF-Southern Section Division II-A bracket. They host a wildcard team in the first round before a potential second-round matchup with Ocean View, the
No. 3 seed in the bracket. If Paso Robles can upset Ocean View, it wouldn't meet up with another top-five seed until the semifinals.

• North County Christian — Funny someone mentioned Maranatha in the last blog, because that's exactly who the Crusaders would play in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division V-AA bracket. North County Christian was one of five teams to get a first-round bye and would match up with the No. 2 seed if they both get past that first game. Maybe the Crusaders can get the Maranatha scouting report from Morro Bay.

You ask me, those are your three best boys bets. If I had to pick one to advance the furthest, I'd lean toward Mission Prep.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A slew of topics

Amidst all the football signings this week, I got word from Templeton that standout softball player and former County Player of the Year pitcher Kat Hicks will be off to play for Ivy League school Dartmouth next year.

There wasn't really a convenient place in the print edition to lump it in with the footall signings, but it was a big choice for a talented athlete all the same.

On another note, someone mentioned the upcoming track season. It's coming on faster than you think, and it should be a good one. Among others, expect plenty of highlights to come from junior all-everything Mission Prep distance runner Jordan Hasay and San Luis Obispo senior sprinter Tonie Williams.

On the boys side, Paso Robles' Nathan Nelson was the best all-around sprinter in the county last season. If he's shown just a little improvement, watch out. The Bearcats also have a slew of talented distance runners. In the throws, watch for Nipomo's Korben Boaz, Templeton's Justin Cutler and, as usual, the troupe from Arroyo Grande.

As for the David Cone debate you guys are having, I'll weigh in: I've only seen him play a couple times, but each time I've come away more impressed. I watched him control the key defenively and hold his own on the boards against an Oakland team with plenty of size earlier this year.

I like Cone's knowledge of the game. For a big guy he's surprisingly deft at taking off and dribbling, and the Bearcats have success with using him to break the press. He probably needs some work finishing in traffic, but he'll play college basketball somewhere.

He's definitely in the running for Tribune County Player of the Year. As are Royer, Hattar, Demalleville and maybe a few others. Playoffs are still to come, and how teams do should carry some weight in the discussion, but what are your takes now on POY frontrunners?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scape Crusaders? Nah, don't blame them

I got an e-mail today from a reader who took exception to a comment by North County Christian basketball player Kirk Sheplay in the latest Athlete of the Week story.

Sheplay said it was one of the Crusaders' team goals to score 100 points in a game this season, and after scoring in the 80s and 90s no fewer than six previous times, they did it in a 103-18 win over Shandon last week.

To at least one reader, this perceived idea of beating a team and "rubbing their noses in it" was a knock on NCC's sportsmanship, or a lack thereof.

Blowout wins. It's a topic always ripe for discussion, and the timeliness of the Crusaders' recent dominance brings it to the forefront.

Here's my basic opinion: It's usually parents who feel the sting of an embarrassing score. The coaches don't come away grumbling about having the score run up on them. And the only thing about blowout losses that humiliates players is not playing — or, even worse, being subbed in the game with less than 1 minute left.

The score in blowouts is just some theoretical thing up on the scoreboard. A win's a win. A loss is a loss. When the difference is more than 20, it might as well be 100.

If the kids and coaches from the losing team aren't worrying about it, then neither should anyone else.

But in the case of NCC, I have to admit that even I allowed the thought of running up the score to creep into my mind while interviewing Kirk. Yet, when I thought about it a little more, I realized that it's just an unfortunate situation for both teams.

The Crusaders, a strong and experienced team, had to play the Outlaws, a young squad rebuilding with a new coach. It's on the schedule. They're in the same league. There's nothing either school can do at this point.

But does NCC have to play with ruthless aggression, go as hard as it possibly can within the rules and squash an overmatched opponent?

Yes, and here's why.

The Crusaders have a good team with high expectations, not only for this year but for next, since so many starters on the team are juniors. They want to go as far as they can in the playoffs. And to do that, they have to be prepared and experienced in playing their hardest — playing their pressing and trapping style — for an entire game.

Unfortunately for them, their league schedule is littered with games against teams that can't be competitive with them, at least not this year.

If they let up, play lazily and perform below their potential to keep scores closer and, therefore, less humiliating for the opposing teams, they only hurt their own chances against other good teams, the kind they'll see in the playoffs.

If there weren't so many gimmes for NCC in the Coast Valley League, you could make an argument for going easy on a Shandon here or there, but you can't blame the NCC coaches for feeling the need to keep their team as sharp as possible when they are winning league games by an average of 50 points.

They've only had a couple close games all year, and you have to simulate intensity somehow.

That's not to say "anything goes." No team should get away with things like calling a timeout with a few seconds left in a blowout to set up an alley-oop dunk. And You don't leave your starters in the whole game.

There are unwritten rules just like in every sport, and as long as teams abide by them, it's OK. By all reports we've received at The Tribune, it seems NCC is doing just that.

If the 100 point thing is still bothersome, read this: I was a spectator in a high school girls game when I was a teenager where the opposing team beat my school 128-25 or something like that. I only remember it because there was a big push by that team to beat my school by 100 points. And my school was trying its hardest not to let the other do it.

Just think, if you were a kid and you had 90-some points, wouldn’t you want to get over the hump and just go for the milestone? It’s human nature, and I don’t think worse of Kirk Sheplay for being honest about it.

And if the Crusaders ever find themselves on the other side of a blowout, they won't have much right to make any hoopla either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A quick Head's up

OK, gotta get some football news in here.

Hancock College standout and former San Luis Obispo High cornerback Ryan Head has signed on to play at Idaho State next year, one of Head's former coaches reported today.

Head, a former Tribune All-County first-teamer at DB who had a team-high four interceptions and 34 tackles for Hancock this past season, is committing to his second NCAA-FCS, Big-Sky-Conference school since his senior year at SLO High.

After receiving interest from Navy, San Diego, Humboldt State, UC Davis, Eastern Washington, Cal Lutheran and Menlo College during his two-time all-county career with the Tigers, Head originally signed with Sacramento State coming out of high school.

He instead ended up at Hancock, and this was all before my time so I don't really have all the juicy details. In fact, I've never seen Head play. Don't even know what he looks like.

Who knows what goes on down there in Santa Maria? Uh... barbecue. Wine? I heard the real-life Zorro was from around there, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, anybody out there wants to sound off about Head, please do. I'd love to read some anecdotes. His former coach called him the best cornerback he'd ever seen. That's gotta get someone going.

(To the Logan Budd people: Attack!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The "why" in team

Remember the big Morro Bay-Templeton boys basketball game that had us in a furor a couple weeks ago?

Well, now it's ruined.

Since the storm that knocked some leaky shingles off the Templeton gym, both teams have lost a couple league games and though their game might be a good one, it won't mean near as much as if the two were still undefeated in the Los Padres League.

And that's too bad.

No, I'm not rooting for the Pirates or the Eagles over any other team in San Luis Obispo County. Nor am I playing favorites with Royer and Hattar.

But the fact is basketball is a lot more fun for everyone when the most dynamic scorers are also on the best teams.

Or is it?

Not if you ask the Arroyo Grande girls team, which doesn't have one player averaging more than eight points per game but is dominantly running away with the PAC 7.

And here's where I have an internal conflict. My basketball instincts say I want to see the biggest individual stars on the best teams. That's what Derrick Jasper and co. had at Paso Robles a couple years ago, and were there two people in the county who weren't at that last big playoff game?

We love that stuff.

But here's a tough question: Do we love a more successful team without a major stud scorer more than a less successful one with a standout star? Why not?

Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Atascadero coach update

Those concerned about Greyhounds girls basketball coach Paul Hill and his leave of absence may notice that Wednesday's story in The Tribune mentioned Hill was waiting for test results that would hopefully give him the green light to rejoin the team.

After talking with Hill today, it appeared the tests were positive in the sense that they didn't reveal the scariest of conclusions, but they were still somewhat inconclusive. That means Hill will be off the bench indefinitely while he continues to seek more care.

I'll keep you updated as much as I can. And good luck to Paul.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The storm strikes again

It's Friday night, around 8 p.m., and while I'm posting this blog, The Tribune's offices have been silenced by a power outage.

Mission Prep's gymnasium suffered a similar fate. Games from the Royals' eight-game Division V basketball showcase that didn't start before 6 p.m. have been postponed until Saturday.

As stated in an earlier blog, the Morro Bay-Templeton boys and girls games were also stopped by the storm when Templeton's gym came up with a leak and school administrators feared the near gale-force winds were too much of a travel hazard.

Interestingly, Coast Union's gym leaked during the storm before last, and games were moved midstream to the nearby middle school. But this is the first time this year basketball games have been postponed to a later date by rain.

The San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles game was going off as planned last I checked, and since the power seems OK in the South County, I'm guessing Arroyo Grande and Nipomo were able to stick to their original schedules.

Here's the hitch: Even though there were games played, since the power is out at The Tribune, we will not be able to bring you the usual full edition. I've been informed that if you do receive an issue of Saturday's paper, it won't have a sports section.

What we will do for you is work hard on Saturday to catch up with everything that happened Friday and Saturday and bring it to you in Sunday's paper.

Keep checking back here for updates now and in the future. Luckily, my cell phone has internet.


Hopefully, this gets out in time to reach some people.

Yes, word from Morro Bay is that the Morro Bay-Templeton boys basketball game has been postponed to a later date because of today's storm.

Pirates coach Dave Yamate phoned in with the update. According to him, Templeton made the decision earlier today beause of a problem with its gym. The girls game will also be postponed because of travel concerns.

This means we won't see a face off of two top Los Padres League teams. And we won't see a Michael Hattar-Dylan Royer matchup tonight. The game might be resceduled for Saturday, but nothing is certain at this point.

Stay tuned for any updates. SLO-Paso, here I come.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Rounding up the holidays

Yes, it's been a while since you've seen some blog action from me. It's been a while since The Tribune has been able to give some in-person coverage to SLO County high school sports.

But that doesn't mean we haven't been paying attention. Here are a few random thoughts on what's taken place since the Mission Prep Christmas Classic got underway, since PAC 7 play started and since many of us stuffed ourselves full of holiday fixins.

• Though his Compton team didn't exactly tear up the Mission Prep Christmas Classic, USC-bound Demar DeRozan looked good to me. On the first night of the tournament, I watched the guy decked in full warmups and an mp3 player effortlessly drain 3-pointers that would have put the NBA line to shame. Anybody else have any thoughts on the bigtime players that came to town this year?

• Sticking with boys basketball, Michael Hattar dropped 50 at the Atascadero Tournament. A few of you have weighed in on his talent already, but here's my quick take on Hattar: Though "Best Player Ever" honors still reside with Derrick Jasper, Hattar really is a high school superstar.

Someone made mention of the Eagles' star and his high shooting percentage (at 53 percent last check). Yeah, he makes his share of layouts in Templeton's flex offense, but Hattar shoots 50 percent from beyond the arc, too. And it seems like his favorite shot is a step-back jumper that, for me, conjures a scene from the movie Coming to America where Eddie Murphy yells, "YES! YES! In the face!"

• Some have also began contrasting Hattar to Morro Bay standout Dylan Royer. Well, those interested won't have to wait long for it to be decided on the court. The Pirates travel to Templeton on Friday.

• Honestly, we're still deciding at The Tribune whether to cover that Morro Bay-Templeton game or head over to San Luis Obispo, where the Tigers host Paso Robles in a PAC 7 showdown that could have playoff implications by the end of the season. Though both teams may be fighting for second place behind defending champ Righetti, anything could happen at this point, and San Luis Obispo already has a win over Arroyo Grande in league play.

• Speaking of San Luis Obispo, it could be a magical year on the pitch for the Tigers. Both the boys and girls teams are having banner years. Heck, the girls are still officially undefeated at 16-0-2, though they failed to advance in a holiday tournament after being on the wrong side of a 1-1 shootout.

I'm not really much of a soccer expert, but I know this much: You can't win if you don't score, and both San Luis Obispo teams seem expert at shutting down opposing offenses. That should allow them to be in a game with just about anyone.

I'm on the books to see the SLO High girls in person for the first time this season Wednesday night. Check out Thursday's Tribune for the game report.