Gregg Dodderidge

Former Badger hoopsters make impact at Reedley

Reedley College has long been a destination for both Badger boys and girls basketball players, and this year was no exception.

Three former Badgers were all freshman on the team including Mattaya Brown and Haley Mumm as guards, and center Taylor Burrall. While an injury cancelled Burrall’s season, both Brown and Mumm had a big impact on the team.

Reedley plays in the Central Valley Conference. This season the Tigers were 6-18 overall, and 3-9 in the conference. Reedley is a young but talented team with only one sophomore, and finished the season losing nine of their last 10. It will be a much more experienced team next season.

Brown, playing point, averaged 4.8 points per game and led Reedley in assists with 2.4 per game and 2.2 steals. Mumm, a shooting guard, was third on the team with 8.6 points per game and averaged 6.2 rebounds per game.

Kendall Cardoza, a freshman guard from Sierra rounded out the Mountain contingent on the team.

Bulldog basketball

What great news last weekend as Fresno State played their way into NCAA March Madness. The Dogs won the Mountain West title with a 68-63 defeat of San Diego State Saturday in Las Vegas.

It’s the first trip to the “Big Dance” since the 2001 season when Jerry Tarkanian was coach. The title erases many long years of frustration and removes much of the lingering negativity from the Tark era.

Coach Rodney Terry continues to build the Bulldogs into a basketball power the right way. Fresno State stuck with Terry despite calls for Terry’s ouster a few years ago. This shows it’s important for a new coach and staff are given time to rebuild.

Still, attendance at the Save Mart Center remains dismal. It is often like a tomb. That should change with the fortunes of a program on the rise. Fresno (25-9) is the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Regional. The Dogs play No. 3 Utah tonight (March 17) at 4:30 p.m. (TRUTV).

The Utes (26-8) of the Pac-12 will be a tough draw, but FSU will give the Utes a game.

Despite the outcome, this is a huge turnaround for the Bulldog program.

Congratulations are also in order for Cal State Bakersfield as the Roadrunners played their way into their first NCAA tournament winning the Western Athletic Conference Championship defeating New Mexico State 57-54 on a last second 3-point shot by Dedrick Basile. The Roadrunners will get the No. 15 seed in West Regional in Anaheim and will play No. 2 Oklahoma on Friday at 1 p.m. (TNT).

Mustang girls

The Minarets girls basketball team (19-7, 8-2 WSL) were awarded the No. 15 seed in the D-V Southern California Regionals of the state tournament. Despite losing to No. 2 seed Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo 53-32, it was an outstanding season for Coach Deann Kamalani’s Mustangs.

Minarets started the season 4-0 with their first win over North Sequoia League’s Washington Union. From Dec. 28 until Feb. 26, Minarets went 14-2.

Minarets volleyball has established itself as an elite program in D-V. You can now include girl’s basketball in the mix.

Logan Mankins retires

Amidst the fanfare of Peyton Manning’s recent retirement announcement, Mariposa’s Logan Mankins, after an 11-year NFL career, announced his exit from pro football.

He was selected to seven Pro Bowls, but missed out on getting that elusive Super Bowl ring.

You could easily argue that Mankins was one of the greatest players in Fresno State history. Logan played left tackle and was selected No. 32 overall in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. The Pats moved him to left guard, his home for the next nine years. He played the last two seasons with Tampa Bay where he was an offensive captain.

Remember, Mankins was virtually unrecruited out of Mariposa High in 2000, and a walk-on at Fresno State. Like he did for so many players, former Fresno State Coach Pat Hill saw a diamond in the rough. At one point, there were 22 NFL players recruited by Coach Hill in the NFL.

Mankins celebrated his 34 birthday March 10.

Like Manning, the timing was perfect. To understand the toughness of Logan, here is an excerpt from espn.com on March 7. It sums up what Pat Hill saw in him.

In 2011, Mankins tore his ACL, sources told ESPN insider Adam Schefter. Mankins later said, “It wasn’t 100% but it was still functionable. I could still run, so there was no reason to sit out. There were no MRIs or anything, so we never knew exactly what was hurt. If you can still run and play, there is no reason to go see a doctor, right?”

Mankins grew up on a cattle ranch in Catheys Valley in the foothills east of Merced. He was all about hard work. Yosemite High’s Cole Popovich played alongside Logan for a season in 2002 at Fresno State.

The Bulldog/Patriot connection continues as Cole was just named assistant offensive line coach for the Pats. You know Coach Hill had a lot to do with both players being at New England.

I’ll close with a quote from Pat Hill’s former boss, and arguably one of the greatest NFL coaches of all-time, Bill Belichick. In the same ESPN piece Belichick stated, “Logan Mankins is everything we would ever want in a football player. It is hard to imagine a better player at his position, a tougher competitor or a person to represent our program. He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached.”

Next up for Logan will be a visit to the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton Ohio along with Peyton. It’s no guarantee it happens in 2021, but Mankins deserves it.

Logan would be the first Bulldog football player inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Football fans in the Mountain Area could not be more proud.

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