Local duo bound for UC Merced

Golden Valley's Nunes, Buhach Colony's Blissto hoop it up for 'Cats

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJuly 2, 2013 

UC Merced men's basketball coach John Sykes didn't have to go far to recruit two of his future players.

Both Golden Valley's Dusty Nunes and Buhach Colony's Jared Bliss will be suiting up for the Golden Bobcats next season.

"I like that they're both basketball guys," Sykes said. "I got to coach Jared when he was younger when he was in fifth grade playing AAU. I've known him his whole life.

"I coached Dusty when he was a freshman at Golden Valley. I know what to expect from these guys and these guys know what I like."

Nunes thought his competitive basketball days might be over when Golden Valley lost to Bethel in the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs.

"When I got this opportunity I jumped at it," Nunes said. "I like playing for coach Sykes. He's always shown a lot of confidence in me. He tells me to keep shooting even when the shots aren't falling."

Nunes averaged 7.3 points per game and was second on the Cougars with 52 3-pointers made.

Bliss was offered a roster spot at UC Merced after attending a tryout in March.

Bliss came off the bench for his father, John, at Buhach Colony. He's a high-energy player who helped turn up the intensity in the Thunder press.

"I love basketball and I think this is a great opportunity," Jared said. "I've known Coach Sykes for a long time and I think it'll be a great experience playing for him."

Sykes was able to see these two play a lot more in high school while watching his son, Josh, play for Golden Valley.

"It's great to recruit some hometown guys," Sykes said. "I really like the way these two will fit into the system we're running. It made the recruiting easier and it gives some local people someone to come cheer for at the games."

• • •

Atwater pitcher Aliyah Ricks found herself pitching in front of the right person and as a result will get an opportunity to walk-on next year at Cal State Northridge.

Ricks was at a pitching lesson when another parent saw her pitch.

The parent asked Ricks' mother, Linda, where her daughter was pitching next year. When Linda told her she was going to a junior college, the parent told her she should be playing at a four-year school.

The parent made a phone call to a friend with contacts and soon Aliyah was contacted by Cal State Northridge coach Tairia Flowers.

"It's kind of a Cinderella story," Aliyah said. "I was in the right place with the right people at the right time."

Aliyah went and watched Northridge play UC Davis and made a visit to Northridge to meet the coaches and players and tour the campus.

The softball program had already used up their scholarship funds for this year, but Ricks may be able to earn a scholarship in the future.

She's currently playing travel ball with the SoCal Pumas in Ventura.

"I'll definitely work harder than I've ever worked before to earn a scholarship," Ricks said. "That's my goal."WORDHERE

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