Brandi Henton and Taryn Garza led Modesto Christian High's girls basketball team to the state final last year, taking turns hitting key shots.
They hope to take the Crusaders to a state title this season, a challenge that requires the teammates to work together.
"We're both fast, so on fastbreaks we're constantly out front passing the ball to each other, setting up each other's shots," said Garza, a 5-foot-11 forward. "In practice, we drive each other real hard."
Don't expect that teamwork to extend to next season, because Henton and Garza are going to be rivals in college.
Garza is expected to sign a national letter of intent today with the University of Pacific, while Henton plans to sign with Long Beach State — UOP's Big West rival.
"How cool will that be, looking across the court and seeing Brandi there?" said Garza, who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds last season. "It's going to be fun playing against Brandi."
While Garza plays both forward spots for MC, Henton switches between the guard spots — though she earned a reputation last year as one of the state's top point guards.
Henton was The Bee's Player of the Year after averaging 16 points and four steals.
Wednesday was the first opportunity for seniors in many sports — football players sign in February — to sign national letters of intent to attend colleges. Many will sign today, since most high schools were closed due to Veterans' Day.
Henton and and Garza are two of eight Stanislaus District athletes ready to sign. The value of the scholarships vary, depending on the sport and school, though Garza's is worth about $50,000 a year.
Garza will study graphic design at Pacific and expects to play at forward and guard.
"We're going to try and be more interchangeable on the court," she said. "You could see me at guard and Brandi at forward. It will be good for us and make us a better team."
Pacific's proximity to her Hughson home, and parents Stephanie and Jorge, ranked high among Garza's reasons for picking the Tigers.
"I'll be close to my friends, playing Division I basketball, and I'll be getting a great education," Garza said. "What a great deal."
Turlock's Vince Wheeland is off to Oklahoma State to play baseball and major in business management. Initially drawn by an opportunity to be a starting pitcher in the Big 12 Conference, one of the nation's best, he was excited to find a nationally ranked business school, as well.
He pitches and plays third base for the Bulldogs, and the Cowboys recruited him as a starting pitcher — but they've also asked him to try out as a position player. The scholarship is worth about $22,000 and includes everything but some partial housing costs, which must please his parents Vince and Diane Wheeland.
The scholarship was the result of hard work, on the field and in class, Wheeland said.
"The advice I would give (other athletes) would be to always work hard, even in the offseason, be a student of the game, be a team player and always be coachable," he said. "I would also tell them to be prepared so when the opportunities come your way you will be ready."
Johansen's Brooke Fuller will swim for Fresno State next year, while majoring in communications with a full-ride. She expects to spend most of her time practicing for freestyle races, particularly the 200-meter free. "The school feels like a community and the athletes are very supportive," said Fuller, whose parents are Richard and Melanie Fuller. "My advice to other (athletes) is to just have fun, never doubt your abilities and train with the passion and love you have for your sport."
Ripon's Ashley Robinson is headed to Sonoma State to play volleyball and study kinesiology, the study of human movement. Coach Bear Grassl has talked to Robinson about playing the middle position, a role similar to what she plays for Ripon and her club team.
Sonoma State is also close enough so that her parents, Curtis and Debbie Robinson, can see their daughter play. And Sonoma competes against Stanislaus State in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Modesto's Kaitlyn Klein is off to Bryant University, a 145-year-old school in Rhode Island. Klein, who leads the Panthers into tonight's quarterfinal vs. Nevada Union, will major in business with a concentration in accounting.
"I selected Bryant primarily because of its renowned undergraduate business program, the immediate rapport I had with the coaches and the phenomenal internship opportunities available in major metropolitan areas such as Boston," Klein said.
She plays outside for the Panthers, and opposite hitter and setter for her club team. Bryant has talked to Klein about playing outside and opposite, and the scholarship is worth $30,000 a year — a nice present for Kaitlyn's parents, David and Brenda Klein.
Hilmar's Stesha Brazil will spend her college career playing at the University of Houston, which has been recruiting the Yellowjackets' standout catcher since last spring. An all-district honorable mention as a junior, Brazil could soon see an old friend: Former Hilmar star Courtney Ramos is at Southern Miss — one of Houston's rivals in Conference USA. Brazil batted .522 for the Yellowjackets last spring, with 26 runs and 21 RBIs. She also delivered one of the biggest hits in the program's history, a two-run single in the sixth to stun Hughson in the section playoffs.
Johansen's Christine Uhalde, an all-district golfer the last three season, is going to Fresno State to continue her career and schooling. She recently won the section Division I golf championship.