Joe Davidson

New coach, familiar results as Christian Brothers repeats as section champions

Shandyn Foster didn't anticipate doing this on any stage, never mind a big one.

Coaching, imploring effort, expressing all manner of disbelief with a referee's call.

But here she is, suddenly in an element she cannot imagine being without. With its rookie leader coaching her players hard and hugging them equally so, Christian Brothers High School repeated as Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls basketball champions, racing past upstart River Valley of Yuba City 72-58 on Saturday afternoon at Pacific.

The top-seeded Falcons (23-7) received typical contributions throughout the roster, especially from their dynamic one-two punch of Brianna Juniel and Bria Shine, to extend their winning streak to eight. CB has won 15 of 16 overall and expect a high seed as the CIF Northern California tournament starts Wednesday.

And beaming about all of it is Foster, who as Shandyn Hicks started at center as a Christian Brothers freshman and led the team as a guard in 2000 when she earned Bee All-Metro honors. Welcome to the grind, coach.

"I never, ever, ever thought I'd come back and coach, but I'm so glad I did," Foster said with a laugh. I'm so blessed. It's a great team."

Juniel, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Shine, a 6-foot sophomore guard, had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Laney Prichard, a 6-foot sophomore guard, had 11 points and eight rebounds.

The other CB starters are senior guard Monet Brown (six points) and junior guard Chance Sims (eight points). Reserve AnnaClare Nelson, a senior forward, had 11 points and nine rebounds.

The players praised their coach as much as she praised them. It was no easy task replacing a proven coach in Ron Gully, who won three section championships. Winning solves any doubt.

"The main thing is we're a family, a happy family," Juniel said.

Foster accepted the job from CB principal Chris Orr, who said Saturday, "She's great already."

Foster made sure she added a veteran coaching voice, turning to her Sacramento City College mentor Dave Carmichael. Said Foster, "I know I'm young and I'm green. I needed him."

"Very glad to help her, and she's doing a wonderful job," Carmichael said.

Foster has some throwback to her game. She appreciates a 3-point shot but said, "I wand to run and get layups. Yes, even in this era of 3-point shooting. And we play defense."

The Falcons showed a lot in a 72-60 loss to national power St. Mary's of Stockton on Jan. 9.

"We knew we could play with anyone," Juniel said.

As for the NorCals, Foster said, "No matter where we end up and who we play, we're going to compete. If we play CB basketball, we'll be fine."

As spoken by a coach who seems to have figured this gig out in a hurry.