Lady Badgers in wrong division

Gregg DodderidgeMarch 6, 2013 

Basketball season came to a sudden halt last week. For all teams in the mountain area, it ended too early.

The Yosemite High School girls team, led by coach Gary Blate lost a rare first round CIF playoff game to Redwood 47-38. Yosemite, with a school population of only 720 play in Division II in the Central Section playoffs against, general speaking, much larger schools. Redwood's student population is 2,000.

Yosemite Girls Basketball will take on anyone. Blate plays a tough non-conference schedule on purpose -- To prep for playoffs. It is something Blate has done for 11 straight years and it seems to work well since he has won outright our shared the North Sequoia League title all 11 years.

I would love to see what Blate would do with a student body of 2,000.

It would be nice to see Yosemite play within their population, probably D-IV. It is time for Yosemite to at a minimum of D-III, but even D-IV.

Minarets basketball

After two play-off byes, Minarets lost a 54-51 heartbreaker at home to Laton in the Central Section D-V semi-finals. It was a great inaugural season for coach Paul Varner. The Mustangs finished at 12-10 overall, 6-4 in the WSL. It is the best record in the school's short history.

There were so many positives this season. Varner was named coach of the year for the West Sequoia League. Senior point guard Austin Pimentel was first-team all league. Best of all, most of the players will be back next year for a shot at Selland Arena.

The loss to Laton was disappointing. Minarets couldn't buy an inside basket during the early part of the game. Normally, the Mustangs own the paint. Minarets overcame an 11-point halftime deficit. Pimentel and junior guard Bo Campbell scored 35 of the teams 51 points.

Still the ball was in Pimentel's hands at the end of the game with a chance to tie. You put the ball in the hands of your best player. It just didn't work out.

Returning players shouldn't need a lot of motivation next season. Put in the work during the off season and keep the loss to Laton as a bit of a chip on your shoulders. You will grow from it. For the seniors: close out your last year strong with a win at Selland Arena. Coach Varner would have it no other way.

Remembering Sweeney

In one of my recent columns, I wrote about attending the Feb. 9 memorial service for former Fresno State football coach Jim Sweeney at Bulldog Stadium. It was very emotional and I was proud to attend.

What came to mind after the service was Sweeney and the NCAA Hall of Fame.

It is unfathomable why Sweeney didn't make it into the Hall of Fame before his passing. He won 200 games, most at Fresno. As one speaker put it, "... if coach had Woody Hayes' players, he would have titles too."

Sweeney used to say, 'get the most from the least and the best from the best.' He did just that.

Unfortunately, there were other Fresno State former players and a coach on the field that Saturday who have also been denied their Hall of Fame due.

Lorenzo Neal is considered by many as the greatest fullback in NFL history. For 17 years he battered opposing defenses and did it well. Nine running backs got a 1,000 yards behind Lorenzo's blocking.

NFL wide receiver Henry Ellard, maybe the greatest athlete in Fresno State football history, caught 814 passes for 13,777 yards and not a sniff from Canton.

Finally, there is Jerry Tarkanian -- 800 plus basketball wins, yes with some baggage, but please. You can't leave out someone with 800 wins, an NCAA title and an undefeated season.

If Fresno State were on the east coast, all the above would be in the hall.

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