Sports

Athletes of the Week

Porsha Grayson, Golden Valley Basketball
Porsha Grayson, Golden Valley Basketball Merced Sun-Star

LARGE SCHOOLS

PORSHA GRAYSON

Golden Valley basketball

With the Cougars missing two potential starters this season -- one moved and another is injured -- part of the scoring load was expected to fall on Porsha Grayson.

While such expectations might cause anxiety for some players, the Golden Valley junior appears quite at ease with the role.

The 5-foot-7-inch guard scored 21 points in a 54-35 victory over Downey last week that evened GV's record at 6-6. It was a performance that pleased GV coach Matt Thissen, because offense was a concern for the Cougars coming into this season.

The Cougars struggled to score last season, breaking 50 points only twice in 25 games. Those scoring woes were a big part of the reason why GV failed to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

GV is averaging 47 points a game this season and has already topped 50 points in three games.

-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA

EDGAR PAEZ

Livingston wrestling

Edgar Paez qualified for the CIF State Wrestling Championships as a junior last season, but his stay at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena was short. He went 1-2 and was eliminated on the first day.

This season, the 112-pounder already has taken steps toward returning to the state meet. Last weekend, he won his weight class at the 13th annual Western Invitational, a 47-team tournament at Modesto Junior College.

Paez beat Lawrence Blanco of James Logan in Union City 8-2 in the final, controlling the match from his feet. Blanco, like Paez, is a state meet qualifier.

"Making it to state is a big deal. It's tough," Paez said. "So when you face somebody else who went there, you know it's going to be a good match.

"I was nervous for that match, but being nervous is a good thing. It made me more aware and alert."

-- WILL DeBOARD


SMALL SCHOOLS

KAITLYN BRAYTON

Escalon basketball

It hasn't taken long for Kaitlyn Brayton to get comfortable with her role in the Cougars' attack.

The 5-foot-7-inch sophomore guard has become one of Escalon's most reliable scorers during the first month of the season, and she continued to produce points in two games last week.

Brayton scored a game-high 17 points in a 46-37 victory over Central Catholic, leading the Cougars on a 15-6 run in overtime, and then scored 19 in a 50-49 loss to Amador. The Cougars trailed for much of the game but never allowed the Buffaloes to build much of a lead.

Brayton's performance has been a pleasant surprise for the Cougars, who have aspirations of challenging for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff berth. They'll certainly face stiff competition in the Trans-Valley League, including two games with Modesto Christian -- an early season favorite to compete for the section title.

-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA

OLIVER CONGLETON

Beyer wrestling

Oliver Congleton's big week began in the Patriots' key Modesto Metro Conference dual match against defending champion Downey on Dec. 19. After his team was down 24-0, the 130-pounder surprised Matt Galton with a pin, sparking Beyer to a 35-33 victory.

From there, he ripped through his bracket at the 13th annual Western Invitational, a 47-team tournament at Modesto Junior College, for the victory. He beat Golden Valley's Lee Xiong 17-12 in the final.

"That final was probably my toughest match, but I had a few good ones," Congleton said. "This is a big win. It's a nice tournament."

Plus, Congleton said, it was nice to win in Modesto.

"The fact that we were one of the host teams, it was important to win," he said. "And it's always nice to win in front of a crowd of your own fans."

-- WILL DeBOARD

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