Los Banos wrestling
Coach Dan Roten remembers the phone call three years ago, when Salinas High's wrestling coach called to let him know he was about to receive a wrestler.
The wrestler turned out to be Smith, an incoming sophomore, and she has lived up to her reputation. Smith capped her varsity career by winning the Sac-Joaquin Section girls' title at 112 pounds, pinning all three of her opponents at the section meet.
"She's long, thin and has great technique on the mat," said Roten, noting Smith also won the Central California Conference boys' JV title last week, beating the boys. "Danielle's tenacity is something to see. She was losing 15-2 in the third round in one of the matches against the boys, and she turned and pinned the guy."
Smith finishes the season at 34-10 with 30 pins, and she wrestled in three varsity dual matches.
It didn't take long for Downey to realize he was "in the zone." Hitting his first shot in a showdown with first-place Enochs, Downey and kept firing away to help stun the Eagles.
Downey had 22 points and six rebounds in the victory, hitting four of his seven 3-pointers and five of his seven shots from inside the arc.
"I played inside a lot last year, but spent a lot of time working on my shot," the 6-foot-3-inch senior forward said. "I enjoy shooting 3s. At time I feel the rhythm."
Downey also had 13 points, hitting three of his six treys, in an overtime loss to Johansen.
"We all knew Enochs was looking to seal their title, and I think that got us going," Downey said. "Everyone came out hitting their shots, and once we got our confidence, you could see us really coming together a team. It was a great feeling."
Triplett isn't the first girl to wrestle for Ripon, but she's certainly one of the best. The freshman capped her first high school season by winning the 165-pound title at the Sac-Joaquin Section girls' meet.
"Ripon has had a strong history in women's wrestling," said coach Glen White, noting Lindsay Owens was on the team when he arrived in 1999. "Lindsey (won) the first two California Girls State Championships and became a freestyle national champion."
In the semifinals, Triplett pinned Edison's Sara Aguilera -- sixth in the state last year -- in the second round. She then beat Nayeli Gomez from West Campus 10-2 in the championship match.
"I have never seen a girl at her age be as strong as she is," White said. "It's amazing to imagine how good she could be in the future."
C.J. De DEAUX
De Deaux is never going to intimidate opposing big men with his height, not when he's 6 feet, 2 inches. When a ball ricochets off the rim, you see why he's a threat inside.
"He's got a great eye for where the ball is going to go, and he's quick enough to get there and strong enough to grab the ball away," said coach Tom Marchy, whose forward leads the Stanislaus District with 14.6 rebounds a game. "We usually play him at strong forward, but he'll also play some guard."
He combined for 38 points and 42 rebounds in a pair of Southern League wins, including 18 points and 24 boards in an upset of No. 5 small-school Le Grand to keep the Wildcats in the playoff race.
"C.J.'s also improved at scoring off the drive," Marchy said. "A lot of his points have come from that 10- to 15-foot range. You have to watch him."