Joe Davidson

Bee Players of the Year: Folsom’s Jordan Ford and McClatchy’s Gigi Garcia

McClatchy’s Gigi Garcia and fellow junior Jordan Ford of Folsom were the driving forces behind their teams’ dramatic success this season.
McClatchy’s Gigi Garcia and fellow junior Jordan Ford of Folsom were the driving forces behind their teams’ dramatic success this season. rpench@sacbee.com

Away from basketball, Jordan Ford of Folsom High School and Gigi Garcia of McClatchy blend in with their peers. They go to the movies, check out the mall and explore eateries.

But in the gym, Ford and Garcia are leaders of two of the region’s top basketball teams.

That leadership and their relentless effort helped make the junior playmakers The Bee’s 2014-15 Basketball Players of the Year.

Ford, a 6-foot-1 guard and three-year varsity starter, is a repeat selection. After Folsom won just 12 games for four consecutive seasons, Ford, a 6-foot-1 guard, led the Bullsdogs’ resurgence last season that included a spot in the CIF State Division II final. This season, Folsom and Ford caught no one by surprise; the Bulldogs’ 28-5 season didn’t end until they lost to national power and state No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd 75-57 in the CIF State Open Division semifinals.

Ford averaged 20.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals and has been recognized for his ability to see the floor as plays develop, something he credited to his chess championship days.

Garcia, a 6-3 forward and also a three-year varsity starter, helped lead McClatchy to its finest season. The Lions went 27-7, including 7-1 in the playoffs, and capped the season as the region’s only state champion, beating Serra of Gardena 65-61 in overtime in Division I. Garcia had 19 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and three steals as the Lions become the first Sacramento City Unified School District girls team to win a state title.

For the season, Garcia averaged 17.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals, and she also was praised for her passing ability and to see plays develop.

After the Lions beat Serra, Garcia was so overcome with joy she raced off the floor, crying.

“The whole night was emotional,” Garcia said. “These are my best friends, and seniors like Destiney Lee and Lauren Nubla, that was our last game together. I’m so excited for next year because we’ll have a good team again, but I’ll miss them.”

Like Garcia, Ford embraced a team-first approach, and he, too, has been recognized for his character. Days after taking over down the stretch to lead the Bulldogs past Sheldon 50-49 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final, Ford did the same in an Open Division game against powerhouse El Cerrito. After Folsom won 78-75, Ford consoled El Cerrito’s players and praised their effort. When O’Dowd ended Folsom’s season, Ford consoled his teammates.

Ford also said he continued to improve his game.

“I’m getting smarter, learning new things,” Ford said. “Every year, the feel of the game gets better. I’m really learning the mental game, too. If I miss a shot, find other ways to score. Or envisioning making shots before games. Things my dad taught me.”

Ford and Garcia both credit their parents for teaching them how to approach sports – and how to deal with adversity and success.

Ford’s father, Cuzear Ford, played baseball at now-closed Norte Del Rio in Del Paso Heights and at Cosumnes River College and UC Santa Barbara. Ford’s mother, Ann Ford, also was an athlete.

Garcia’s father, Aaron Garcia, was The Bee’s Football Player of the Year from Grant in 1987. He also played at Sacramento State and set passing records in the Arena Football League. Garcia’s mother, Shelby Boudreaux, was a star basketball forward at El Camino and Sacramento State.

“There was a lot of tough love because they wanted the best for me,” Ford said of his parents. “They led me on the right path. It’s really nice to know all this work has been paying off.”

Said Garcia of her parents: “Since I was little, they pushed me to be the best. It paid off. A lot of work and it was out of love. My dad would take me out to do extra work, to run, to make me better. My mom worked with me on my game, too. It made me better.”

Ford and Garcia are drawing a lot of recruiting interest. Ford has received scholarship offers from Cal, Gonzaga, Northridge and UC Davis, and Garcia has offers from Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA, USC and Washington.

Garcia joked that her mother no longer wants to challenge her at the park in a game of one-on-one. The pupil has passed the mentor.

“I played against my mom when I was in the seventh grade and she liked to swing her elbows,” Garcia said with a laugh. “I’d get a bloody mouth. But she can’t handle me now.”

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

THE SACRAMENTO BEE’S 2014-15 ALL-METRO BASKETBALL TEAM

BOYS

Teams compiled by The Bee’s Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty of All-City Preps based on observation, coaches’ input and playoff impact.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

JORDAN FORD

G, Folsom, junior

FIRST TEAM

ISAIAH BAILEY

G, Jesuit, senior

NOAH BLACKWELL

G, Woodcreek, senior

MARQUESE CHRISS

F, Pleasant Grove, senior

SOLOMON YOUNG

F, Sacramento, junior

JORDAN BROWN

C, Woodcreek, freshman

SECOND TEAM

DEVIN GREENE

G, Sheldon, junior

JORDAN ROBERSON

G, Cordova, senior

CHRISTIAN TERRELL

G, Sacramento, junior

MATT MANNING

F, Sheldon, junior

DeANDRE STALLINGS

C, Liberty Ranch, senior

THIRD TEAM

MATT LYON

G, Rio Americano, junior

TYUS MILLHOLLIN

G, Oak Ridge, junior

JAARON STALLWORTH

G, Cosumnes Oaks, senior

JARED WALL

G, Folsom, junior

ERIC TOLES

F, Cosumnes Oaks, senior

HONORABLE MENTION

Christian Allen, Franklin; Austin Alexander, Kennedy; Alec Andrews, Folsom; Thomas Austefjord, Woodcreek; Rick Barros, Sacramento Country Day; Michael Briscoe, River City; Isaiah Brooks, Sheldon; Ke-shawn Bruner, Burbank; Steven Bush, Bella Vista; Brooks Carroll, Del Campo; Donn Corbin, Woodcreek; Josiah Deguara, Folsom; Kevin Dent, West Campus; Malik Duffy, Jesuit; Elishja Duplechan, Sheldon; Phillip Fayne, Franklin; Tre Finch, Folsom; T.J. Fulton, Vista del Lago; Davion Johnson, San Juan; Quientin Johnson, Monterey Trail; Vontae Grant, Johnson; Derek Haney, Placer; Mister Harriel, Antelope; Tiegen Jones, Capital Christian; Elias King, Christian Brothers; Ryan Kreidler, Davis; Bret Lynch, Mesa Verde; Stephen Matthews, Sacramento; Daniel Milligan, Valley Christian Academy; Marcus Muccular, West Campus; Tyler O’Day, Victory Christian; Darren Nelson, Granite Bay; Michael Potts, Foothill; Colin Russell, Isaiah Tenette, Highlands; Folsom; Gabriel Torres, Pioneer; Justice Shelton-Mosley, Capital Christian; Erik Scheive, Marysville; Matt Smith, El Dorado; Karanvir Takhar, River Valley; Johann Tate, Pleasant Grove; Kai Tease, Antelope; Alex Tsverov, Center; Austin Payne, Franklin; Edward Ware, Capital Christian; Colin Uda, Kennedy; Glen Welch, Davis; Finn Whetstone, Christian Brothers.

COACH OF THE YEAR

DEVON JONES

Capital Christian

A year after leading a championship team that had size, Jones guided another title team using a small lineup and largely without year-round players. Capital Christian won its fourth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section championship and first in Division IV, then won the program’s first CIF Northern California title. The Cougars were 27-9, including 22-3 after members of the football team joined the mix. They came up short to Crespi of Encino 47-44 in the CIF State championship. Said Jones: “We hold our heads high, proud of what we’ve done.”

THE BEE’S FINAL TOP 20

1. Folsom 28-5

2. Woodcreek 27-6

3. Sacramento 28-6

4. Sheldon 21-8

5. Pleasant Grove 22-10

6. Cosumnes Oaks 23-9

7. Antelope 23-7

8. Kennedy 22-6

9. Oak Ridge 18-10

10. River City 21-8

11. Franklin 18-10

12. Granite Bay 17-11

13. Christian Brothers 22-7

14. Jesuit 17-11

15. Capital Christian 27-9

16. Liberty Ranch 27-6

17. Monterey Trail 17-11

18. Rio Americano 16-12

19. Cordova 22-6

20. Placer 21-6


GIRLS

Teams compiled by The Bee’s Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty of The Bee Preps Show based on observation, coaches’ input and playoff impact.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

GIGI GARCIA

F, McClatchy, junior

FIRST TEAM

ERIKA BEAN

G, Bradshaw Christian, senior

ISAMAR CONDE

G, Oak Ridge, senior

KIM SCHMELZ

G, Pleasant Grove, senior

JORDYN BELL

F, Bradshaw Christian, senior

LAUREN HEYN

C, Del Oro, senior

SECOND TEAM

GRACE DERKSEN

G, Oak Ridge, senior

LAUREN NUBLA

G, McClatchy, senior

HANNAH JORDAN

F, Del Oro, senior

EMMA STENZ

F, Davis, senior

BAYLEE VANDERDOES

C, Placer, junior

THIRD TEAM

JORDAN CRUZ

G, McClatchy, sophomore

NADIA JOHNSON

G, Antelope, sophomore

ALICEAH HERNANDEZ

G, Sacramento, junior

MAKAILA SANDERS

G, Rio Linda, freshman

KIRA McKECHNIE

C, Christian Brothers, senior

HONORABLE MENTION

Namiko Adams, West Campus; Mickayla Balser, Del Oro; Angelica Baylon, Antelope; Daeja Black, Granite Bay; Destinee Bowie, El Camino; Aliyah Brantley, River City; Courtesy Clark, Sacramento; Madison Clayton, Ponderosa; Nicole Colbert, Capital Christian; Irene Colaivalu, Rosemont; Danielle Craft, Ponderosa; Lauren Craig, St. Francis; Danielle DaCosta, Folsom; Kyliyah Daniel, Inderkum; Kylee Daniels, Woodcreek; Sammy DeHart, Nevada Union; Kassidy De Lapp, Oak Ridge; Rachael DiRegolo, Bella Vista; Yumi Drossos, Oak Ridge; McKenzie Forbes, Folsom; Katie Grahn, Davis; Kaliya Griffin, Inderkum; Lily Hagerty, Valley Christian Academy; Janae Hair, Sheldon; Samantha Huddleston, Pleasant Grove; Brandy Huffhines, Rio Linda; Rhianna Jackson, Florin; Nia Johnson, Antelope; Destiney Lee, McClatchy; Caitlin Mazzoleni, Davis; Hailey McCoy, Oak Ridge; Shelbie McKay, Roseville; Shelbi Meyer, Whitney; McKenna Mitchell, Del Oro; Shelby Peters, Oak Ridge; Cassandra Pisik, Lincoln; Dejanet Porter, Rio Linda; Raquel Quirarte, Placer; Alanna Scott, Whitney; Jikara Sellers, Florin; Mira Shulman, Elk Grove; Cameo Warren, Antelope; Alex Washington, McClatchy; Kelsey Wong, McClatchy; Kristi Wong, McClatchy; Madison Wong, Elk Grove

COACH OF THE YEAR

JESSICA KUNISAKI

McClatchy

Four years after replacing her mentor and idol – wondering if she was ready for the task – Kunisaki made history. Assisted by Jeff Ota and Que K. Ngo, veteran coaches with head-coaching experience, McClatchy was 27-7. The Lions won the Metropolitan Conference at 14-0 and were 7-1 in the playoffs, including winning the CIF Northern California Regional Division I title and the CIF State Division championship, the first such achievement for any girls program in any sport in the history of the Sacramento City Unified School District. Said Kunisaki: “Special team, special year.”

THE BEE’S FINAL TOP 20

1. McClatchy 27-7

2. Oak Ridge 27-5

3. Antelope 27-3

4. Del Oro 24-7

5. Davis 27-4

6. Pleasant Grove 22-7

7. Rio Linda 26-7

8. Bradshaw Christian 23-10

9. Ponderosa 20-9

10. Florin 20-10

11. Sacramento 18-10

12. Inderkum 24-4

13. St. Francis 20-8

14. Whitney 24-5

15. River City 19-10

16. Elk Grove 19-10

17. Folsom 17-11

18. Bella Vista 19-8

19. Christian Brothers 17-12

20. Placer 21-7

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