Basketball, soccer seasons end with close calls but no titles for local teams

Basketball, soccer seasons end with close calls but no titles for local teams

Basketball, soccer seasons end with close calls but no titles for local teams
Northgate girls basketball won three straight games to reach the NCS Division II championship game before losing 50-41 to Redwood-Larkspur. The Broncos qualified for the NorCal championships in D-III. (Photo courtesy Northgate High Athletics)

CONCORD, CA (Mar. 17, 2024) — The winter sports calendar closed with post-season playoffs and local teams got close to North Coast Section and Northern California championships but came up just short. The lone exception was perennial NCS wrestling titlist De La Salle High which once again swept both Section competitions.

In basketball, neighbors Ygnacio Valley and De La Salle lost NCS boys championship games and Northgate took second in girls Division II.

Carondelet fell just short of claiming the NorCal girls Division I basketball crown.

Mt. Diablo girls were eliminated at the semi-final stage in NCS D-IV for the third year in a row and then lost a one-point heartbreaker in the second round at NorCal.

On the soccer pitch Carondelet was denied a third successive NCS championship while Clayton Valley Charter boys scored an historic victory in the quarterfinals over De La Salle, but the Ugly Eagles were then upended in the semi-finals.

Spartan wrestlers hold on to their titles

De La Salle once again reigned over the mat as the Spartans won their ninth straight Section team championship weeks after also taking their ninth consecutive NCS dual team title. Their team total of 260 points was DLS’s lowest since taking third in 2014, the only year they did not win the championship since 2008.

Caleb Tatad (115 pounds), Manuel Martir (122) and Franklin Enkhmandakh (159) all won individual titles while DLS teammates Gio Cuevas (128) and defending champ TJ Arvizu (152) were runners-up, sending five Spartan wrestlers to the State meet.

Clayton Valley Charter junior Abbi Cooper (110) won her third straight NCS title and was joined by Northgate freshman Symone Newell (155) at the top of the Section podium. Cooper took seventh at State the following week while Newell did her one better in sixth.

Girls basketball near misses

Among the four championship game losses for local basketball teams at NCS and NorCal, none was more heartbreaking than Carondelet’s one-point loss to Bishop O’Dowd in the Northern California Division I championship game. O’Dowd put in an offensive rebound with three seconds left for the winning margin in a closely contested 47-46 game.

The two East Bay Catholic schools also met in the third-place game in NCS Open Division the previous week and the Dragons won that game as well.

Northgate girls fell to No. 1 seed Redwood-Larkspur 50-41 in the D-II NCS finals. As the sixth seed the Broncos were the lowest seed to reach any of the NCS girls championship games. They toppled the second and third seeds enroute to the finals. That earned them a spot in the NorCal D-III playoffs.

Mt. Diablo girls basketball has had a renaissance over the past three seasons, racking up 66 wins in that time and three successive trips to the NCS semi-finals and then onto NorCal for the first three times ever for Concord’s oldest high school.

In their semi-final against No. 2 seed San Domenico, the Red Devils jumped out to a big early lead, but the San Anselmo school rallied back and finished off MD in the fourth quarter.

Boys hoops fall short too

Ygnacio Valley High boys basketball had quite a post-season taking second in NCS D-IV, falling 76-69 to Justin-Siena of Napa in the finals. The Wolves then made it to the D-III semi-finals at the Northern California tournament. (Photo courtesy Ygnacio Valley High Athletics)

Ygnacio Valley boys had an outstanding season that ended with a pair of tough losses. The Wolves reached the championship game of NCS D-IV as the second seed and held form into the finals against top seed Justin-Siena of Napa.

The Wolves were outscored by six points in the second quarter and could never fully make that up in a 76-69 final, denying the Concord school its first section hoops title since 1988 when current Clayton Valley Charter athletic director Eric Bamberger starred for YV.

At NorCal, Ygnacio Valley won its first two D-III games before falling to eventual State runner-up Santa Cruz in the semi-finals. Justin-Siena lost the other semi-final in the bracket.

De La Salle was a bridesmaid for the third successive year in the NCS Open Division falling to Salesian of Richmond in a battle of old Catholic Athletic League rivals. Salesian went on to the State Open title game, losing in the final minutes to defending champion Harvard-Westlake.

Clayton Valley Charter won the Diablo Athletic League boys basketball playoffs in a dramatic 62-61 win over regular-season champs Ygnacio Valley, but the Ugly Eagles then lost three of their final four games in post-season play.

Cougars denied threepeat

Carondelet got back to the NCS girls soccer championship game for the third straight year looking to add to their 2022 and 2023 titles and when they broke a scoreless tie in the second half it appeared a threepeat was within their grasp.

East Bay Athletic League rival San Ramon Valley tied the score and sent the game into overtime. In the waning minutes of the second OT, the Wolves had a shot careen off the crossbar and bounce into the net for the title winning golden goal, avenging a loss to Carondelet in last year’s finale.

In the NCS boys tournament top seed De La Salle lost in the quarterfinals to Concord rival Clayton Valley Charter 4-2. All available research shows this was the first-ever time the Ugly Eagles beat DLS in boys soccer. The high for Clayton Valley Charter following that historic win was doused four days later when they lost in the semi-finals by the same score to Dougherty Valley.

Early in the Millenium, Clayton Valley won a league game vs. the Spartans but it ended up as a forfeit when it was determined a CV player in the game had transferred from DLS without gaining NCS approval.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | sports@pioneerpublishers.com | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.

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