Top 10 athletes I’m going to miss

The college season is about done. It’s always fun to go back and think about who did what to make it a memorable school year.

So I’m going to kick out a series of lists, just for amusement. Today it’s the top 10 athletes I’m going to miss covering – I’m talking seniors at four-year schools or sophomores finishing up at a local community college.

Got to start at 10 and work my way up . . . build the suspense. Hopefully those not making the cut won’t be offended. I truly enjoy what I do, every game I cover (that doesn’t go overtime) and every athlete I meet.

10. Annie Lydens, Pomona-Pitzer track/cross country

The last two years have been tough on her (injuries). But she was the subject of a feature her sophomore year. She has interned at the United Nations and her goal is to visit another different country for every year she has been alive. That tells you all you need to know. Nice to see great athletes with such a different perspective. Every interview with a Pomona-Pitzer athlete is an enlightening one.

9. Sarah Beeman, University or Redlands softball

A great player who finally got through a season injury-free and had impressive numbers to show for it. Bonus points for saving me from getting drowned by a celebratory water bucket a few years ago when the Bulldogs won the SCIAC Tournament. Coach Laurie Nevarez was the intended target.

8. Jordan Richard, Cal State Los Angeles basketball

So he doesn’t “play” for a local school. He qualifies as a local because he went to Los Osos and played at CS San Bernardino as a freshman, Riverside as a sophomore. And he played many a game against Cal State and Cal Poly. His game improved each year he ended up being the top shot blocker in the country this season. That’s a good way to go out.

7. Stacey Howard, San Bernardino Valley football

He made just some ridiculous catches this year for the Wolverines. Don’t know how opponents left him so open sometimes, especially on the halfback option. He was the subject for my season preview story and it’s always nice when those guys deliver. Almost makes it seem like I know what I’m doing. (Headed to University of Hawaii).

6. Luke Sweeney, Pomona-Pitzer football

Some times guys pile up lofty statistics against garbage teams or they just because they get a ton of carries but Sweeney is legit. He’s pretty small by running back standards and took a beating. Injuries really limited him last season but he still became the school’s all-time leading rusher. I have to wonder what numbers he would have put up with more talent around him.

5. Jordan Garcia, University of Redlands football

Not a big guy by any stretch but had a nose for the football and always seemed to come up with the big play on defense. Also the only athlete to ever email me and thank me for a story after the interview and before it was even published.

4. Camille Smith, Cal State San Bernardino volleyball

The latest in a line of great Coyote standouts and maybe the MOST interviewed player on the list because of the team’s high profile and her major role in her time there. She’s tough, real tough. And she has always been quite articulate, win or lose. Bonus points for always keeping us guessing what color her hair was going to be next.

3. Sango Niang, Chaffey College basketball

The reason he makes the list is because I can’t remember the last time I saw a player improve so much from one season to the next. Sango excelled in track growing up. That comes from his father being an Olympian. He barely played basketball in high school. He was good as a freshman, phenomenal the past season. He’s small and quick but absolutely fearless. (He’s headed to Division II Simon Fraser next year).

2. Mitchel Anderson, Cal Poly Pomona basketball

He won a national championship with the Broncos in 2010 as a freshman. That is indicative enough of his talent. He’s just a smooth, consistent player. He may not be flashy but by the end of the night he is going to have his 15 pts, 8 rebs, 5 assists and a couple of steals.

1. Kwame Alexander, Cal State San Bernardino basketball

This was an easy choice. Who doesn’t like rim-rattling dunks? Kwame had some of the most ferocious ones I have seen at any level. Go ahead, Google him and check out the dunks on You Tube. Definitely the most exciting player to come along in the CCAA in the last decade.

Kwame Alexander vs. Chico State

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Chaffey men looking for redemption

The No. 4 Chaffey College men’s basketball team gets a chance for redemption tonight when it travels to No. 1 Saddleback (27-4) for a playoff game in which the winner advances to the state Final Four next week in Sacramento.

The Panthers (25-6) have lost to Saddleback twice on last second shots in the Jeff Klein tenure, although the playoff format was different then and those games were to get the Panthers to the Elite Eight.

This might be the best team Klein has had. Ask a coach and they’re always hesitant to compare teams. It’s like asking a coach to picking a favorite child.

But this team has a poise and air of confidence about it others have not.  The players don’t seemed overwhelmed by the playoff atmosphere and most have played together for two years, and many for three.

Klein also is blessed with depth. He uses a lot of guys and they all contribute. There isn’t much waste at the end of the bench.

Justin Long might be the best long distance shooter in the state and Sango Niang, a track standout turned very good basketball player, is a terrific catalyst on both sides of the ball. He’s like the Energizer Bunny. He never stops!

There are also solid veteran players in Ryan Nitz, Kenny Morgan and Justin Cole who don’t mind taking a backseat to the more heralded players.

The Panthers played a tough non-conference schedule and benefited from playing in tough Foothill Conference which has prepared them nicely for a playoff run.

The fact that two teams from the conference are still alive says a lot – No. 10 San Bernardino Valley College (22-8) will play No. 3 Mt. SAC (26-3) in what should be another quality playoff game.

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Updated JC playoff schedule

The second round is complete. Here’s what the third round looks like. All games are on Wednesday. There were some upsets in second round play on both sides. The Foothill Conference fared well and the Orange Empire isn’t so loud and proud right now!

MEN

No. 9 East Los Angeles (21-7) at No. 1 Saddleback (26-4)

No. 12 Palomar (21-9) at No. 4 Chaffey (24-6)

No. 15 Mt. San Jacinto (21-10) at No. 10 San Bernardino Valley (21-8)

No. 6 College of the Canyons (21-8) at No. 3 Mt. SAC (25-3)

WOMEN

No. 8 Long Beach (24-4) at No. 1 Mt. SAC (30-0)

No. 5 San Bernardino Valley (25-5) at No. 4 LA Valley (23-8)’

No. 15 Palomar (17-1) at No. 10 Moorpark (18-12)

No. 11 Irvine Valley (21-10) at No. 3 Mt. San Jacinto (27-2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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