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November 30, 2010 > MVAL athletic recap

MVAL athletic recap

By Nick Zambrano

On both the boys and girls courts, Newark Memorial High School is now the target of the Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL).

Newark's boys team, led by head coach Craig Ashmore, will look to continue the success that allowed them to sweep the MVAL and finish second in the state behind Westchester High. The bar for the 2010 season definitely has been set at a height that could be touched by the birds, especially since 2009's leading scorer Khion Sankey to graduation.

The first test for the revamped, defending MVAL champs was when they hosted the Nor Cal Tip-Off Classic. Their first round game provided a powerhouse match-up against Oakland High. Oakland won the much-anticipated game on Saturday, Nov. 27, 59-58.

After opening up their year with a difficult 63-32 loss to Liberty High, the girls from Newark bounced back quickly. The Lady Cougars upped San Ramon Valley, 46-40, in a Nov. 26 game. Taylor Presley led Newark in scoring with her 16-point output, she was one of three Lady Cougars in double digits. Kelsey Pease dropped in 13 while sophomore standout Taylor Norman put in 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

The defending MVAL champs will have some time to regain their momentum from last season as their next game will not be until Dec. 6. They will hike up to Oakland to Skyline High; tip off is set for 7 p.m.

Possibly the strongest competition to both Newark teams, Washington could possibly play the roles of spoiler. Both teams finished right behind Newark and perhaps provided the most excited series of games through the hoops season.

Washington's Husky boys gave Newark the closest run for their MVAL last year, including two, four-point losses. The climb back to Newark's throne will continue when the Huskies take part in the Rob Vares Jr. Memorial Tournament on Dec. 2, their first round opponent will be Livermore High.

The Lady Huskies provided more tension for their rivals from Newark. Washington lost in the end, but it marked a miraculous turnaround by first-year head coach Clarence Benjamin. Despite losing starters Sabrina Swayzer, Kaley Marden and Deja Bishop to graduation, Benjamin still has a solid corps to compete with juniors Chessie Santeramo and Julia Selph returning to the starting lineup. Washington opens up at Livermore High on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Moving up into Union City, the Colts from James Logan saw their girls - led by head coach Frank Borghi - reached the NCS tournament despite finishing third in the MVAL regular season. Logan continued that fighting spirit under Borghi with their season opener against McClymonds High, 37-30.

Logan's boys started off the 2010 just right with a win against Tennyson High on Nov. 18. The contest was a low scoring one at 35-26 and Logan failed to break into double digit scoring in every quarter. The offense for Logan will attempt to open up against California High on Nov. 30.

In other MVAL hoops news, both Mission San Jose teams failed to capture a win in their season openers. The Warriors fell in a tight, high-scoring battle to Livermore, 89-86, a fate similar to Irvington's, who lost to Livermore as well. The Lady Warriors on the other hand, had more distance between them and their combatants, Amador Valley High, losing 42-27.

Moving outdoors to the soccer field, in MVAL action during the holiday week, James Logan High's boys team took the field twice, splitting the two contests. They opened with a 4-0 win over Castro Valley High on Monday, Nov. 22. Gustavo Ulloa led the way with a pair of goals. But on Wednesday, Nov. 24, the Colts were shut down at home against Berkeley High, 1-0.

Irvington dropped both its games last week, 2-1 to Mt. Eden on Monday, Nov. 22, and 4-2 to San Ramon Valley on Saturday, Nov. 27. Kennedy had much better success than the Vikings. In two matches, the Titans got a win -- 5-2 vs. Hercules on Monday -- and a draw -- 0-0 at Granada on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Elsewhere in boys MVAL soccer, Washington went to Dublin and fell 2-1 to Dublin High on Tuesday, while Mission San Jose hosted Hayward and played to a 2-2 draw, also on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, Newark Memorial topped Livermore, 2-1, at home. Shane Nath and Edward Ramirez were the Cougars scorers.

For the girls, Irvington went 2-0 last week, winning a pair of home matches. First, they topped San Leandro on Monday, Nov. 22, by a 3-0 count. Heidi Moreno, Melissa Heaton and Jessica Lerma scored, while Kimberley McLaughlin made a pair of saves in net. On Tuesday, the Lady Vikings dropped San Lorenzo 5-0 at home. Heaton scored twice to lead the way. Lerma, Vienna Curtis and Zuleijma Ortiz Flores scored the others.

Also on Tuesday, Kennedy improved to 3-0 on the season with a 1-0 road win over Dublin High. Tori Salazar had the lone goal, leading the Lady Titans to victory. Hannah Stephens played solid in net, stopping all eight shots on frame.

Giovanni Albanese Jr. contributed to this article.

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