Merced coach Hector Nava challenged Travante Richard during the team banquet at the end of last season to take the next step.
After making the all-Central California Conference second team his first year and first team the next, Richard had only one more spot to climb – CCC MVP.
Richard answered the challenge, as the third-year starter was named the conference MVP by the CCC coaches after he led Merced to a CCC co-championship.
“He carried our team in certain situations, he got us over the hill,” said Merced coach Hector Nava, who was named the Coach of the Year. “He made some big-time plays for us.”
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It’s been quite a senior year for Richard, who was also named the CCC MVP in football after helping lead Merced to a conference title as a receiver.
Richard is the first athlete to be named CCC MVP in both sports since Merced’s Jarrett Sparks did it in 2007-08.
“It’s a big achievement to get another (MVP),” Richard said. “It’s an honor. To do what we did in football and basketball, I think we helped put Merced on the map. I think we could have done better in football, but we got to the playoffs. We won titles in both football and basketball. I think people will remember our generation.”
The Bears won their final five games to tie Golden Valley with an 8-2 record for the championship. Richard averaged 14.6 points and six rebounds per game during CCC play.
Richard took on a leadership role as one of two seniors starting for the Bears.
“Having so many young guys, it’s good to have a third-year varsity player, and the young guys looked up to Travante,” Nava said. “For him to carry us in big situations was great. He proved himself over and over again. That makes the young guys look up to him even more.”
Golden Valley’s big three of Josh Sykes, Evan Stillahn and Christian Carroll each received all-CCC first-team honors. They were joined on the first team by Atwater’s Ben Peterson, Turlock’s Kenny Fraser, Pitman’s Branson Garcia and Merced’s Jonathan Chairez.
The Bears also landed two players on the second team in Ulonzo Gilliam and A.J. Stewart. Buhach Colony had two second-team players in Kaden Verdin and John Zaragoza. Rounding out the second team were Turlock’s Demsen McFaddin and Devan Bains and Pitman’s Cyle Williams.
All-Western Athletic Conference – Pacheco’s Edgar Iglesias and Los Banos’ J.T. Barcellos were both named to the all-Western Athletic Conference second team.
Iglesias averaged 18.3 points, five rebounds and three assists per game for the Panthers, including a 47-point performance against Livingston.
Barcellos averaged 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Tigers.
Central Catholic’s Donovin Townsend was named WAC MVP.