They are Titans in nickname and mascots only.
Otherwise, Antelope High School’s boys basketball team doesn’t turn heads when it gets off the bus and trots onto the floor for warmups. But what the Titans lack in height, they make up for in desire and results.
Antelope overcame a rash of injuries, losing three players for the season, and marched onward, stretching the season to Tuesday night’s CIF Northern California Division II semifinal at top seed Serra of San Mateo.
The defensive-minded Padres include 7-foot center Jack Wilson. On Saturday, Antelope (24-8) slipped past Newark Memorial and 6-10 center Kevin Kahriman 54-49.
“We are David going into Goliath’s house, literally,” Antelope coach Rob Richards said, referring to Serra as a program and the Padres’ big frontcourt. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. These kids love being the underdog.”
Richards said the Titans are close-knit. The five starters – Montel Aaron, Everett Campbell, Isaiah Hardy, Tim Strijaous and Kai Tease – are athletic and can play different positions. The tallest starter is Aaron, the school’s football star headed to San Jose State to play quarterback.
“He’s 6-foot-4 3/4 , with the hair!” Richards joked, referring to Aaron’s high-rise ’do.
Tease, a guard with shooting touch headed to Howard University, is the program’s career scoring leader. Each starter is a three-year varsity player, and they’ve been teammates since their middle-school days.
“They grew up watching (their) big brothers and their friends’ brothers lead our other teams to Sleep Train Arena (for Sac-Joaquin Section championship wins in 2012 and 2013),” Richards said. “This has been their goal and burden, and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort.”
What adds to the fun for Richards is having son Jordan, a key role player, on the team.
Ganskie out – Duwaine Ganskie has stepped down as the boys basketball coach at Bear River, concluding a 29-year career. In 16 seasons coaching the Bear River girls, the Bruins won eight section and three NorCal titles. He will remain as athletic director.
“I feel really good about this, about what we’ve done,” Ganskie said. “Since I’m the AD, I could say I’m firing myself. No, really, this is a great time to step down. I wanted to go out with a solid good group, a high-character group, and I did. I enjoyed coaching the guys, as it’s a more athletic game than the girls. But the girls were so rewarding. Girls are very coachable, respond well. It was all a lot of fun. We were fun to watch and competitive, and that’s what you want.”
Baseball – Elk Grove is The Sacramento Bee’s top-ranked team in the preseason rankings, having beaten one Bay Area powerhouse in Valley Christian of San Jose 1-0 in a season opener and preparing for another in De La Salle of Concord on Wednesday.
The Thundering Herd, the defending section D-I champion, is led by outfielder Dylan Carlson, son of coach Jeff Carlson, whose program seeks its 12th Delta League and seventh section title since 2003. Another star outfielder is Ryan Robards, The Bee’s Football Player of the Year, whose walk-off hit beat Valley Christian. Carlson and Robards are returning Bee All-Metro first-teamselections.
Pitchers Alex Zalasky and Austin Del Chiaro and catcher Erek Bolton are experienced players for Elk Grove, which will battle No. 2 Jesuit, No. 4 Franklin, No. 5 Davis and No. 8 Sheldon in the Delta. The section’s top pitcher is Sheldon’s Matt Manning, projected to go as high as the first round of the June draft.
The Sierra Foothill League is also well represented in the top 10 with No. 3 Oak Ridge, No. 6 Granite Bay and No. 7 Woodcreek.
Softball – Defending D-I section champion Sheldon, with 10 returning starters, is The Bee’s top-ranked team. How talented are the Huskies? Of their 15 players, eight have signed scholarship offers or given vebal commitments. Taliyah Miles is the new ace, and the infield is anchored by Cal-bound shortstop Jordan Fines with sister and second baseman Maci Fines headed to UC Santa Barbara. Catcher Jessica Scott is off to Sacramento State. The Fines sisters and Scott are returning Bee All-Metro first-team players.
Coach Mary Jo Truesdale has won five section championships since 2007.
Del Campo is No. 2, led by returning Bee All-Metro pitcher Brooke Larsen and outfielder Maggie West. Elk Grove, a finalist in the D-II playoffs last season, is No. 3 and led by the pitching combination of Miranda Miles and Courtney Riley. Elk Grove and Sheldon are longtime Delta rivals.
The Bee’s Top 20
Records from 2015
1. Elk Grove
3. Oak Ridge
6. Granite Bay
9. Yuba City
11. Capital Christian
12. Rio Americano
15. Christian Bros.
17. Vista del Lago
20. El Dorado
Records from 2015
2. Del Campo
3. Elk Grove
6. Pleasant Grove
8. Bella Vista
9. St. Francis
10. Bear River
11. Casa Roble
12. Cosumnes Oaks
14. Del Oro
16. Christian Bros.
17. Oak Ridge
18. Union Mine
20. Yuba City