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Espinoza, Contreras & Sagapolu garner girls basketball recognition
Alexis Contreras (1) and Blanca Espinoza (5) filled key roles on Central Valleys varsity girls basketball team this year. Espinoza and Contreras both earned all-WAC accolades. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Blanca Espinoza was timid on the court during her first season with Central Valley's varsity girls basketball team.

Espinoza was asked to do more for the Hawks this year after post player Adria Robinson broke her right pinkie finger.

"Everything clicked this season," said Blanca, a senior point guard. "Last year, I didn't want to get yelled at so I played safe. I wasn't much of a shooter. I felt more comfortable this year. I worked on my shot every day at practice. My confidence level went up."

Espinoza was selected to the Western Athletic Conference First Team in a vote by the conference's head coaches earlier this month at Ceres High.
"It's nice being honored," Espinoza said. "I always try to give 100 percent on the court. Giving up is not an option."

"She's a great kid," Hawks head coach Jesse Padilla said. "She's fun to coach. Her work ethic is so good. She has a hate-to-lose attitude. She wants to be good at everything she does."

Espinoza had the tall task of replacing 2015-16 WAC Most Valuable Player Mikayla Mabie this year.

"The job had to get done," she said. "I'm really competitive. I never gave up no matter if we were winning or losing."

Blanca led the Hawks in scoring (11.9 ppg), assists (2.2 apg) and steals (2.0 spg).

She averaged 3.1 rebounds per game.

Espinoza also drained 15 3-pointers.

"She had a great year," Padilla said.

Central Valley placed second in the WAC standings (7-3) and secured its third straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

"We all had to do our part to get there," Blanca said. "I tried my best. I know everybody else did, too."

Central Valley's Alexis Contreras and Ceres High's Rayohna Sagapolu both garnered second-team all-league honors.

Contreras, a senior guard, averaged 11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

"She was our second-leading scorer," Padilla said. "She had a good season."

Sagapolu and the fourth-place Bulldogs (5-5) beat third-place Los Banos (6-4) once, and fifth-place Livingston (2-8) and last-place Pacheco (0-10) twice.

Rayohna, a senior power forward with no varsity experience prior to this season, averaged 10.0 points per game versus Livingston.

She was also Ceres High's top rebounder.

"She was super energetic," Bulldogs head coach Chad Hammond said. "It influenced the way the other girls played. Her mentality sets her apart from others. She's super competitive."