Athletes of the Week (3/5/09)

March 4, 2009 

Large Schools

RACHEL McDANIEL
East Union basketball

It's been a long season for McDaniel and the East Union basketball team, but you won't find anyone complaining. The Lancers, who routinely exit the playoffs in the first round -- despite eight consecutive playoff berths, they had just one playoff win -- extended this year's visit to the semifinals, thanks to their senior leader.

McDaniel, who has signed with California Baptist University in Riverside, struggled with her shot much of the season before consistently finding the mark last week.

The 5-foot-7-inch guard scored 25 points in a 75-61 first-round win over Inderkum, scoring 15 points in a 4:30 span over the second and third quarters to spark a game-deciding 20-2 spurt.

Two nights later, McDaniel scored 19 points in a 46-40 win over El Dorado, sending the Lancers to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals.

— RICHARD T. ESTRADA

•  •  •

SHANE TATE
Oakdale wrestling

Tate, a sophomore, won his first Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title when he defeated Folsom's Jake Whatley 7-4 in the 125-pound championship Saturday at the University of the Pacific's Spanos Center.

Tate was a section Masters runner-up a year ago as a freshman.

"I didn't want to lose in front of everybody again," Tate said.

Tate stormed through a particularly rough side of the bracket, which included Central Catholic's David Ferry and Union Mine's Cody Tow. The three sophomores are considered the best of the section. Tow beat Ferry in a quarterfinal, and Tate beat Tow 2-1 in their semi.

Tate will compete at the CIF State Meet this weekend, where he's got Hanford's Gabriel Velasquez in the first round.

— WILL DeBOARD

Small Schools

LAUREN LUCCHESI
Modesto Christian basketball

It's easy to get overlooked in Modesto Christian's system that spreads the scoring and rebounding among numerous players, rather than focusing on one or two. This 6-foot senior center had the opportunity to step forward last week, helping the Crusaders to two playoff wins.

Lucchesi averaged 14.5 points, nine rebounds and a block in wins over West Campus (80-43) and Vista del Lago (68-38).

"I was posting up inside and the guards kept getting the ball into me," Lucchesi said. "I just kept hitting the turnaround jumpers."

Lucchesi averages 10 points and eight rebounds.

"The thing with rebounding is you need to know the shooters, and if they miss, where the ball will bounce," said Lucchesi, who also sports a 4.15 GPA. "I've never gotten a C. If I did, my parents would kill me. Education is very important."

— RICHARD T. ESTRADA

•  •  •

MATTHEW GALAS
Central Catholic wrestling

Galas, a junior, followed his brother Dominic by winning the individual championship in the heavyweight division of last weekend's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Wrestling Tournament at the University of the Pacific's Spanos Center.

Galas beat Franklin of Elk Grove's Peter Anguiano 4-3 in the championship match.

Last year, his brother won this title. Matt wrestled at 215 pounds last year, until he tore knee ligaments during a workout with Dominic.

This year, he's returned at full strength, and showed it at Masters. He won several close matches, including victories over Johansen's Rodney Smith (6-4) and Elk Grove's Lefi Letuligasenoa (8-7). He competes at state Friday, with a first-round match against Kerman's Teddy Furnish.

— WILL DeBOARD

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