The 19th annual Lady Cougar Classic will have a local feel to it when it gets underway at Cougar Arena on Thursday.
Golden Valley, Merced and Buhach Colony make up half of the six-team tournament.
The Thunder are the defending Central California Conference champions and return four starters in Allison Wisdom, Brandy Coward, Barbara Coward and Taj Seals.
Merced might be the favorites in the CCC this season with the duo of Lexi Thompson and Dalonna Jones.
The Bears open the tournament against a strong Enochs team at 4 p.m. Buhach Colony faces Franklin of Stockton at 5:30 p.m. Golden Valley will close out the first night against Central Valley at 7 p.m.
The Thunder looked good in their 61-18 win over Beyer in a Sac-Joaquin Section Foundation game on Monday night. Wisdom hit five 3-pointers on her way to a 24 points.
Buhach Colony will have a different look with the graduation of CCC MVP Jessica Silva.
“It’s not a one dimensional or two dimensional team,” said Buhach Colony coach Shane Gentry. “We don’t just have the driver and the shooter. The Coward sisters have gotten a lot better. Allison has worked hard to get better. I think you’re going to see the ball in more hands and that might make us tougher to guard.”
Merced, Atwater and Buhach Colony will compete in the Modesto City Classic, which will be held at Modesto and Enochs High from tonight through Saturday.
The Bears will open the 16-team tournament against Gregori at Modesto High at 5 p.m. tonight.
The Thunder and Falcons will be in action at Enochs High. Buhach Colony opens against Central Catholic at 6:30 p.m. Atwater will face host Enochs at 8 p.m.
The championship will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Modesto High.
The Yellowjackets moved up to No. 4 in the CalHiSports’ NorCal Division 3 bowl rankings this week. Hilmar will likely earn an invite to a NorCal Bowl with a win over Central Catholic on Saturday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 championship.
Kentfield’s Marin Catholic (12-0) and El Cerrito (11-2) are the top two ranked teams in Divsion 3, but they both will face each other in the North Coast Section championship on Friday night. The No. 3 team is Campolindo of Moraga, which didn’t win a section title and is ineligible for a bowl game.
A win by Hilmar would likely vault Le Grand (12-0) into the Divison 4 NorCal Bowl game. The Bulldogs are ranked behind Central Catholic (12-1) and McClymonds (10-2).
How much are the Bulldogs cheering on Hilmar this week?
“Coach (Rick) Martinez sent me a text today saying there are an extra 2,000 fans cheering for us,” Hilmar head coach Frank Marques said.
It didn’t stop there, Martinez and two of his assistant coaches dropped by the Hilmar practice on Tuesday night to offer their encouragement.
Hilmar is practicing on the turf at Atwater High for a couple days this week to prepare for the playing surface at Lincoln High on Saturday. It’s only Hilmar’s second road game in two months. The Yellowjackets played three homes games before the regular season finale at Hughson on Nov. 8. Hilmar then hosted all three playoff games at home. The Yellowjackets have played nine of their 13 games this year at McSweeney Field.
The game on Saturday has been moved back from a 1 p.m. start to 2 p.m. According to Marques, the change was made because there were some Central Catholic players taking SAT tests on Saturday.
After leading Le Grand to a fourth straight section title, senior Ryan Martinez was named co-Southern League MVP along with Ripon Christian running back Andrew Brown.
Martinez rushed for 1,542 yards and 25 touchdowns in seven SL games.
Le Grand’s Eduardo Bedolla was also named the SL Lineman of the Year by the conference coaches and Le Grand’s Rick Martinez was picked at the Coach of the Year.
The Bulldogs’ Angel Zaragoza, Martin Zaragoza, Bedolla, Joseph Kryger, Ricardo Jacobo, Juan Gomez, Ryan Martinez and Christian Williams were all named to the first team.