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Claiming victory: Second-half surge powers Columbia over Merced, 61-46

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Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Columbia’s Mike Williams (above) drives to the hoops for a layup Wednesday against Merced at Oak Pavilion.
If there was any doubt about Columbia College’s traditionally strong defense against Merced after an average first half, that was put to rest in the final 20 minutes.

The Claim Jumpers men’s basketball team shattered a nine-point halftime deficit, limited the Blue Devils to a school-record 12 points in the second period and won 61-46 in commanding fashion on Wednesday at Oak Pavilion.

“We all knew that the first half was a little bit sluggish,” said Columbia forward Tige Wingo. “The second half, everyone made a little pact with themselves to play a little bit harder. A little bit better. It’s never a surprise when the defense works. It’s a great defense and we all buy into it. When you buy into it like we did in the second half, it works.”


Bret Harte beats Argo to clinch MLL title

With a 45-35 road win over Argonaut, the Bret Harte girls’ basketball team clinched the Mother Lode League title.

The Bullfrogs captured their first championship since the 2005 season.

“It feels good,” said Bret Harte second-year head coach Ronnie Davis. “It feels good for multiple reasons. I’m really happy for my girls. This is what they worked so hard for. This is what they wanted and they achieved their goal. To fulfill your goal is really rewarding. It’s rewarding for them. It’s rewarding for the coaching staff. For everybody. To go on the road, and do it, is even that much better. We knew we pretty much sealed the deal by winning tonight.”


Longtime teammates Gomez, Radford play last home game tonight

Former Bret Harte Bullfrogs Jordan Gomez and Danny Radford have been playing basketball together since they were in the ninth grade, but their career as teammates is slowly coming to a close. 

Gomez and Radford, both sophomores, will get one final opportunity to play in front of a home crowd tonight when the Columbia College Claim Jumpers tip-off against Merced College at 7 p.m. at Oak Pavilion.

“It’s awesome,” Radford said. “We’re really good teammates on the floor and off the floor. We’re friends. It’s just really good to have someone like him to play with all the time.”


4-year Cat starter Klatt, caps career as Co-MVP

There was not one player more important to the 2013 Sonora Wildcats boys’ soccer team than goalkeeper Andrew Klatt.

The rangy 6-foot-2-inch Klatt, a two time first-team All-Valley Oak League selection, was often times the smartest athlete on the pitch, and his soccer intelligence was obvious.

“It’s like having a coach on the field,” said Sonora boss Lloyd Longeway. “He really knows the game as far as keeping his fullbacks in great position. Always alert. Knows when to come off the line.”


Reel battles through adversity to be Co-MVP

Brandon Reel’s high school soccer career was derailed before it even began.

The Summerville Bear senior suffered a severe knee injury in eighth grade, and Brandon was told he might not be the same athlete he was pre-injury. He would need to sit out more than a year in order for his injury to heal properly.

“It was so rare that the doctor himself didn’t know how to approach it,” said Brandon’s father, Dave Reel. “He actually pulled it away. Broke the bone loose. The ACL tore the bone away from the knee. They opt to let it heal instead of having surgery because he was still young.”


Power ratings dump put Sonora hoops in uphill battle

For the first time in over 20 years, Sac-Joaquin Section prep basketball playoff teams are not being decided by power ratings, and the Sonora Wildcats are feeling the pinch.

The Sonora boys are a Division 4 team playing in the Division 3 Valley Oak League and normally power ratings would level the playing field. Wildcat victories within their league were weighed more heavily than say teams from the Mother Lode League, like Summerville and Calaveras, and Sonora often would earn a higher playoff seed than other teams with a lesser record.

But not this season. 


Cats drop decision to Spartans at Winterfest

Three Sonora Wildcats scored in double figures, but the boys’ basketball team fell to Lathrop 62-58 on Friday during Winterfest at Bud Castle Gym.

Wildcat Kahale Warring led the team with 20 points on 64 percent shooting and point guard Will Collamer drained 17. Kyle Wolfe added 12.

“The kids played hard,” said Sonora head coach Dan Dona. “Their attitude is fight for everything, and I’m pleased with that.”


Claim Jumpers find way to defeat Reedley

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Jesse Jones / Union Democrat. Columbia freshmen Mike Williams (right, at right) both drive to the basket Saturday in the Claim Jumpers double overtime win against Reedley at Oak Pavilion.
Find a way.

That was the phrase Columbia College head coach Rob Hoyt wrote on the whiteboard before Saturday’s game.

And in a double overtime Central Valley Conference thriller against Reedley College, the Claim Jumpers found a way despite seeing their 13-point halftime lead disappear. Columbia outlasted the Tigers 59-58 in front of a near packed house at Oak Pavilion.

“The teams that win always find a way to win,” Hoyt said. “That was not more evident than tonight.”


S’ville rallies to top Argo

Aryk Freeman grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back into the basket with 30 seconds remaining to help the Summerville Bears boys’ basketball team seal a 53-51 Mother Lode League victory over Argonaut on Friday in Jackson.

The Bears denied the Mustangs the rest of the way on defense and earned its second straight league win.

“We played really, really good defense most of the night, but especially in the fourth quarter,” said Summerville head coach Ben Watson. “They struggled getting off a clean shot and their desperation shot was off. A great team effort. An uphill battle, we kept hanging in there and kept chipping away. We had an opportunity and chipped away at it.”


Commitment and hard work pays off for Columbia’s Hoyt

When Rob Hoyt was a 22-year-old senior at Fresno State in 2007, he landed his first coaching job.

After realizing that he did not want to coach in high school, Hoyt contacted Reedley College’s Brian Fonseca about a possible assistant position.

“I knew Coach Fonseca because he recruited me out of Sonora High School,” Hoyt said. “I called him. I wanted to go somewhere, where I can get the most responsibility.”


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