In today's Courier, we present part two of the best of 2014 list.
1. Ceres High's varsity boys tennis team compiled a 29-1 overall record, advanced to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs and won its third straight Western Athletic Conference crown (12-0).
2. Ceres High's varsity girls golf team enjoyed its most-successful season to date. The Bulldogs were undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play. Ceres High won all 12 of its dual matches. The Bulldogs placed first at the conference's mid-season and year-end events. Ceres High posted a team score of 513 on its way to a program-best runner-up finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Tournament. The Bulldogs finished 14th overall (534) while competing at Masters for the first time. Ceres High took third at the prestigious Merced Tournament. The Bulldogs participated in the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
3. Central Valley's varsity boys basketball team qualified for Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time, posted a 22-7 overall record and finished second in the WAC (9-3). The Hawks finished in the top eight in the Division-III postseason tournament. Seeded 11th, Central Valley battled back from a 14-point deficit before losing 61-58 to No. 3 Fairfield in the quarterfinals. The Hawks upset No. 6 Sierra 60-43 in the opening round.
4. Ceres High's varsity baseball team made history by winning its first conference title since 1991. The Bulldogs (23-7, 11-1) shared the WAC title with eight-time champion Central Catholic. Ceres High also secured its fourth consecutive postseason berth.
5. Ceres High's varsity softball team (21-6, 12-0) won the WAC championship with an unblemished record. The Bulldogs placed fourth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championships.
6. Central Valley's varsity volleyball program qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and compiled a winning record for the first time. The Hawks (8-5) placed third in the Western Athletic Conference standings.
7. Central Valley's varsity boys tennis team participated in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time, posted a 9-6 overall record and finished third in the WAC (9-4).
8. Central Valley's varsity boys soccer team secured its eighth straight playoff berth, extended its unbeaten streak in WAC play to 28 matches and set a program record for shutouts in a season with 10. The Hawks advanced to the semi-final round of the Division-III playoffs, losing 4-0 to top-seeded Christian Brothers. Central Valley fell one victory shy of advancing to its fifth section-title game. The Hawks collected 16 wins, two losses and eight ties on the year.
9. Central Valley's varsity wrestling team compiled a perfect 6-0 record during the WAC dual-meet season. The Hawks secured the conference's No. 1 seed for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Team Duals. Central Valley qualified one individual for State, four for Masters and 10 for Divisionals.
Other Notable Stories
1. Donnie Donaldson was dismissed as head coach of Ceres High's varsity softball program. Donaldson supporters voiced their opinion and sought answers during a June 16 Ceres School Board meeting. Donnie, a walk-on coach with the Bulldogs for the past eight years, believes he was wrongfully terminated. Donaldson was fired after meeting with Linda Stubbs, the school's principal. Stubbs offered the following reasons for termination according to Donaldson. Donnie held unfair tryouts, showed unsportsmanlike contact by posting lopsided scores, failed to turn in a backup purchase order request for the Ceres tournament and promoted his daughter. Donaldson alleged Ceres High athletic director Shawna Nunes used her position of power to prompt an investigation which ultimately led to his firing. Donaldson said Nunes forced him to promote three underclassmen, including her daughter, to varsity following tryouts. Shawna's daughter played in two games before being moved down to JV by her parents before WAC play started. She compiled a 1-0 record with 12 strikeouts and no walks in five innings. When asked if any of what Donaldson and his supporters were saying about her was true, Nunes said: "That's the nature of the job. The other party can release whatever they want to say. The reasons for his removal had nothing to do with us. Linda Stubbs did the investigation and the district was happy with the findings. He was made aware of the reasons why he was released. When she (Stubbs), discussed it with me, I was in complete agreement. It's over and done with. We're moving on." Donaldson served as head coach of the Bulldogs from 2007-2014. Ceres High posted a 139-77 record, qualified for the postseason six times and won two league titles under his guidance. The Bulldogs placed fourth in the section playoffs the past three years.
2. Central Valley special-education Mike Reynolds connected from long range, lifting Central Valley to a one-point victory over Ceres High during a benefit hoops contest on May 28. The contest, which pitted Hawk versus Bulldog staff, raised more than $40,000 for the Reynolds family. Mike's son Kase was diagnosed with chromosome 5q14.3 deletion syndrome, a neurocognitive disorder characterized by epilepsy and intellectual disability, at the age of four months. He celebrated his first birthday on May 22. More than 2,000 members of the community attended the "Hoops For Hope: Kase's Game" fundraiser event at Central Valley High School.
3. Anthony Rogers and his 10-year-old son Devon strengthened their bond through a common interest. Anthony coached Devon for the first time on the baseball diamond this past season.The Ceres B-Boyz 11-and-under youth baseball squad posted a combined record of 21-2 at Rainbow Fields, including a perfect 10-0 mark during the springtime. The B-Boyz won 11 of 13 games en route to a second-place finish during summer-league play. An E-5 sergeant in the U.S. Army, Anthony was honorably discharged in 2012. He suffered service-related injuries that left him 100 percent disabled.
4. Central Valley graduate Ja'Quan Gardner helped lead Humboldt State's football team to a major turnaround this past fall. Gardner contributed at running back while guiding the Lumberjacks to an 8-2 overall record and tie for second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings (4-2) with Central Washington and Western Oregon. Humboldt State dropped all 11 of its games in 2013. Ja'Quan, a true freshman, was selected to the GNAC Second Team. Gardner ranked second on the team in rushing yards (607), touchdowns (8) and carries (88). He averaged a team-leading 6.9 yards per carry. Gardner caught eight passes for 125 yards and one TD. He totaled 193 yards on six kickoff returns.
5. Ryan Thornberry spent a considerable amount of his childhood and teenage years at River Oaks Golf Course. A four-year standout at Ceres High School, Thornberry went on to star at Cal State Stanislaus before joining the professional ranks in 2007. Sidelined with left elbow and right wrist injuries, Ryan volunteered during the 20th installment of the River Oaks Junior Golf Program.