CASSANDRA CLARK, Oakdale basketball
Following an up-and-down preseason, concluding with a 27-point loss to Argonaut, it was unclear how Oakdale was going to fare in the Valley Oak League. Clark and her Mustangs appear to have resolved that issue.
The 5-foot-6-inch sophomore guard averaged 17.5 points -- hitting 13 of 17 free throws -- 3.5 rebounds and two steals as the Mustangs surprised Weston Ranch 39-28 and Manteca 64-54 to open league play.
"The primary area of (Cassandra's) improvement has been her maturity of handling game situations," coach Gary Smith said.
Clark is shooting 78 percent from the line and is the VOL's reported scoring leader at 13.8 a game.
"She has learned to let the game come to her rather than forcing the situation," Smith said.
"She is very passionate about her basketball."
FABIAN GARCIA, Turlock wrestling
Garcia was virtually wrestling with one hand when he faced Aaron Ceballos from McNair of Stockton, and was unable to get out from under him while suffering a defeat last year.
"I had fractured my wrist and I couldn't use it to try and get out, but I'm healthy this year and was happy with the way I wrestled," the 119-pounder said after beating Ceballos 6-4 in the final of the Big Valley Tournament in Stockton.
Garcia finished seventh in the state last year as a 112-pound freshman and takes a 15-3 record into this week's ultra-competitive Five Counties Meet in Fountain Valley.
"Five Counties is a good meet at this time of the year because it gives you an idea of the wrestlers you're likely to see at the state meet," Garcia said. "We do a lot of live wrestling in the weight room to stay in shape. That, and a lot of running."
CHRISTIE HOBBY, Hughson basketball
When you play for coach Dennis Hobby, the focus is on applying pressure and forcing foes to make mistakes. From the time Christie Hobby and her teammates step on the court, they create a frenzied pace from start to finish.
That led Hughson past Summerville (45-34) and Calaveras (38-31), with the 5-foot-9-inch Hobby averaging 11 rebounds, six assists, seven steals and eight points in the wins.
"She plays post and perimeter for us," Hobby said. "She has really improved attacking offensively, then getting the ball to the open teammate as the defense adjusts to her."
The Huskies allow just 31.6 points per game.
"Our full-court pressure allows us to up-tempo the other team, while the intensity of our half-court defensive sets tends to force rushed shots and errant passes," the coach pointed out.
DAVID FERRY, Central Catholic wrestling
If you expect to catch Ferry during his morning workout, you'd better be out of bed early. The 125-pounder is usually in the midst of his daily 2-mile run by 6:30 a.m., then comes a series of sprints and weightlifting.
The routine builds endurance and strength, and it allowed Ferry to go 4-0 and beat Riordan of San Francisco's Nick Mazza 6-3 in the final of the Big Valley Tournament in Stockton.
"My offseason was all about getting in better shape and improving my wrestling," said Ferry, who is 22-1 with the loss to a Montana wrestler. "Even after a tough tournament, you've got to be out there the next day working again."
It doesn't get any easier for Ferry, sixth in the Sac-Joaquin Section at 112 pounds last year. This week he's at the Five Counties Meet, which usually boasts one of the state's strongest fields.
-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA