By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Newcomers Hughes, Martinez have memorable years
A newcomer to Ceres Highs varsity boys basketball program, junior Elijah Hughes averaged 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during the Western Athletic Conference campaign. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's Elijah Hughes and Central Valley's Carla Martinez have been named the Courier's Male and Female Newcomers of the Year, respectively, for their efforts during the winter sports season.

Martinez was a standout on Central Valley's varsity girls wrestling team, which made program history by taking first at the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and claiming the WAC dual-meet title (4-1).

"She did way better than I expected her to do," coach Rob Beckhart said. "She's a tough girl. She works very hard. She has a great attitude."

Just a sophomore, Carla compiled a 2-0 record while capturing the 137-pound crown at the conference finals.

Martinez won two of four matches at the Sac-Joaquin Section South Regional Tournament.

She just missed securing a berth to Masters.

"For her size, she's pretty strong," Beckhart said. "She's athletic. She's able to counter moves. She has great body awareness. She needs to learn a little more technique. That will take her a long ways."

Carla has yet to realize her potential.

"I'm looking forward to next year," Beckhart said. "If she's more offensive, she'll do better. As experience comes, she'll start to do it. It takes a while to get confidence. I wouldn't put any limitations on her."

Hughes starred on Ceres High's varsity boys basketball team, which posted a 12-15 overall record and finished in fourth place in the WAC standings (5-5).

"I met him two weeks after I got the job," Ceres High first-year head coach T.J. Walker stated. "From day one, he said he needed to lose weight. He lost 15-20 pounds from Nov. 6 to Jan. 1. He worked hard. That allowed him to play more minutes and do a lot of different things. We knew how important he was to our success."

Elijah, a 6-foot-3 junior post player, earned first-team all-league honors.

He averaged 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Hughes shot 62 percent (40 of 65) from the field.

"He was the second-best big man in our league," Walker said. "We didn't run plays for him. He got a lot of his stuff off dirty work. He's a workaholic on the offensive boards. If you see him, you don't think he's that quick. He can switch out and defend a guard. He gives a lot of teams fits. He's definitely a throwback player."

Walker believes Hughes will be in the running for the WAC Most Valuable Player award next winter.

"The sky is the limit for him," he said. "He has confidence now. The next step is understanding the game. Defensively, that was a big curve. It took him a while to pick it up. When he did that, we became better. He really wants to work on his game this summer. We'll be in position to win league next year because of him."