BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
In a stark reminder that these are high school students, a school dance has scuttled a rematch between two of the top girls basketball teams in the Central Section.
The MLK Girls Showcase is Saturday at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, and for the primetime matchup at 7:30 p.m., event organizer LeRohn Dodson tried to pit Ridgeview (17-3), with its Stanford-bound star Erica McCall, against two-time defending Division I section champion Hanford (16-4).
The game was scuttled, however, by Ridgeview's winter formal, which also is Saturday night. Wolf Pack coach Michael Martin, who works off campus, said he didn't know about the conflict until early January, at which time he told Dodson the Wolf Pack couldn't play.
Martin said he has a text message from Jan. 8 expressing doubt that the Wolf Pack could play and another from Jan. 9 confirming that Ridgeview's athletic director, Kevin Sneed, didn't want to compromise another school activity.
What's unclear is whether Martin had originally confirmed that Ridgeview could play in the game. He says he only tentatively told Dodson he'd be interested, but Dodson said he was under the impression the Wolf Pack was locked in to the event.
"He committed and said everything was fine," Dodson said. "I don't blame Mike, because he didn't know about the formal, and I think his (athletic director) gave him a hard time about the girls missing formal. But it kind of sucks, because it would have been a great matchup."
Ridgeview defeated the Bullpups 73-47 in November to snap Hanford's 97-game section winning streak, but Hanford coach Tom Parrish knew his team was healthier and wanted a rematch -- wanted it badly enough that he told Dodson he'd only play in the event if he was pitted against the Wolf Pack.
Instead, the event's late game will be Fresno-Edison against Tulare Western.
Martin emphasized that he wasn't trying to dodge a second game with Hanford.
"I'll challenge anybody," said Martin, whose team beat state No. 12 Gardena-Serra on Saturday. "If Hanford wants a game before the end of the year and will come to Ridgeview, I'll give them a game. I have no problem with playing them."
Big out-of-town wins
Two local boys teams came away with big out-of-area wins. Liberty took out Clovis North 69-44 at the Edison showcase in Fresno on Saturday, giving the Patriots a seeding boost in the Division I playoff picture.
Then, on Monday, Independence improved to 20-1 with a 77-75 double-overtime victory over Tulare Union in the boys side of the MLK Showcase in Visalia.
Arena Bowl rosters set
Garces players were chosen first by both sides in the annual draft for the Arena Bowl XII, Kern County's indoor high school football all-star game that will be played April 19 at Rabobank Arena.
The Gold team, led by veteran prep coach Rick Van Horne, took Rams quarterback Cruise Adams with its first pick, and the Black team, coached by personal trainer and former Bakersfield Blitz player Eric Mahanke, chose Garces wide receiver Angus Bellue.
In all, six Rams were chosen for the game's 54 roster spots. Frontier, the Southwest Yosemite League champion, had nine players selected, starting with the Gold's No. 2 pick, defensive lineman Augie Alcantar (The Californian's Defensive Player of the Year).
Independence quarterback Preston Hodges, The Californian's Offensive Player of the Year, was the Black team's second selection. Californian Player of the Year Kamari Cotton-Moya, who has verbally committed to Iowa State, will not play.