RAVEN ANDERSON, Sonora basketball
Anderson, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore center, is heating up as the league season gets going.
She tallied 46 points as the Wildcats vaulted back into a tie for first place in the Valley Oak League with two key victories last week.
"She's got soft hands and she finishes well," said Sonora coach Lloyd Longeway of his athletic center. "And just as important, she brings a great positive energy to the court during games and practices."
Anderson leads the Wildcats this season in scoring (13.5 points) and rebounding (eight rebounds). She and her teammates are also in excellent shape.
"We've only got seven players on the varsity," Longeway said. "So everybody plays a lot of minutes. You've got to have good stamina."
Not too bad for her first varsity season.
"She fit in right away," he said. "She's doing a great job."
KIWI GARDNER, Manteca basketball
Gardner, a waterbug-quick sophomore guard, is a threat to score from nearly anywhere on the court.
Last week, Gardner poured in 58 points as the top-ranked large-school Buffaloes won two Valley Oak League games. Wednesday, he had 22 points in a win over Ceres. He followed that up with a 36-point performance against Sierra, another of the VOL's top contenders. He's currently on a three-game run where he's scored at least 20 points. He's also averaging 4.7 assists and two steals per game for the Buffaloes.
As the team's point guard, Gardner is a big part of the nucleus of one of the area's top teams. When he isn't scoring, he's finding Nick Scheible (16.3 points per game), Ernie Pimentel (10.4 points) or Dominique Barnes (9.9 points). That group has helped Manteca to seven wins in a row.
ERIN SANTIAGO, Turlock Christian basketball
Santiago, a 5-foot-8-inch guard who will play for Cal State Stanislaus next season, does a little bit of everything.
In two Southern League victories last week, she averaged 15.5 points, 3.5 assists, 4.5 steals and 5.5 rebounds per game. On the season, she's averaging 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
"Erin has improved her short game by improving her jump shot out to 15 feet," said her coach and father, Edwin Santiago. "She's also found her way to the glass, improving her rebounding. She had 137 rebounds this year, which is already more than last year."
Turlock Christian (12-6, 3-3 SL) is in a battle for a playoff berth. Their hopes at a league title were dealt a blow when first-place Le Grand beat them Tuesday. Next Monday's game against Mariposa, however, could decide second place.
T.J. BELTON, Central Catholic wrestling
Belton burst onto the state wrestling scene when he placed fourth in the state as a junior last season. He's not sneaking up on anybody now.
Belton competed for the first time this season at 152 pounds, and looked very good in beating De La Salle's Tyler Sheridan 6-5 for the championships at the prestigious Five Counties Invitational.
"Many of the top wrestlers in the state were there," said Central Catholic coach Steve Strange. "T.J. looked pretty good. He wrestled well."
Belton's move from 160 pounds to 152 sets up a Stanislaus District clash between him and Merced's Chris Urquizo. Both are considered among the top wrestlers, pound for pound, in the district. They could meet at this weekend's Tim Brown Memorial Tournament in Sacramento.
-- WILL DeBOARD