Two years ago, Ashley Tugade was an on-the-rise sophomore point guard who earned first-team all-Valley Oak League honors for the Timberwolves. But she tore knee ligaments just before her junior year, which ended her season before it began.
She returned for her senior year with a vengeance, scoring a combined 30 points in two league victories last week.
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"She's a coach's dream," said Sierra coach Isaac Gutierrez. "She's been asked to carry a heavy load for us this year, and she's responded."
She's averaging 10.6 points a game for Sierra this year. Last week, she had 14 in a win over Manteca and 16 in a Ceres victory.
"She does it all," Gutierrez said. "She scores, she distributes. She's just a good basketball player, and that goes with being a good student and just a good kid."
Brett Sayad is a 6-foot-7 senior forward who draws double teams in almost every gymnasium he plays. So far, that hasn't stopped him.
Sayad poured in a combined 43 points as the Bulldogs beat Sierra and Oakdale as Ceres remained a game out of first place in the Valley Oak League standings. Against Oakdale, he was double-teamed almost constantly.
"Brett's also a very good passer and has great court vision," Ceres coach Jason Martin said. "When he draws those double-teams, it opens things up for his teammates."
His most impressive game was his 26-point performance against previously undefeated Sierra. The three-year varsity starter scored 15 in the first half, including a 3-pointer to beat the first-period buzzer.
"Brett scores from the inside or outside for us," Martin said.
Nina Garcia is a do-everything point guard for a surprising Livingston team. The 5-foot-4 senior is averaging 11.7 points, 4.2 assists and 4.3 steals a game for the Wolves (12-2, 5-0).
"She's also made herself into a fierce defender," Livingston coach Luciana Naldi said. "She does a really good job harassing other team's guards. She flat-out works hard."
The Wolves lead the Western Athletic Conference, and have a big game tonight against second-place Hilmar. The last time these teams played, Livingston took home a one-point victory.
Win or lose, Garcia and teammate Olivia Andam (the team's leading scorer) will play a big role.
"She's figured out what it takes to be successful and she's making her teammates around her better," Naldi said. "She's very valuable to our team."
Central Catholic wrestling
Dominic Galas carved out a very nice career as a lineman for the Raiders football team. He'll attend Oregon State on a football scholarship.
But Galas is a pretty good heavyweight wrestler, too. Last weekend, he pinned all five of his opponents in the first period en route to an easy title in the Big Valley Classic. He won the fastest pin award for a seven-second fall in the semifinals, and he won the Gregorian award for the most pins in the least amount of time.
"He was pretty dominant as soon as he joined the team," Central Catholic coach Steve Strange said. "He's undefeated, and he's won all but four of his matches by pin."
He's currently ranked No. 2 in the state by The California Wrestler magazine. He'll face several top wrestlers at the Five Counties Invitational this weekend.