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Verdejo scores 20 in 53-48 win over MOHS

A slow start couldn’t stop Monache High School girls basketball in Friday evening’s East Yosemite League matchup against Mission Oak.

Playing at home, the Marauders (3-0 EYL) trailed in the first quarter but outscored the Hawks (1-2 EYL) in the next two to take a lead that carried them to a 53-48 victory.

“They just have so much heart,” MHS head coach Junell Garcia said. “They really want to win. I told them that this season was just kind of for fun. We get a season, let’s be happy with that. You’ve been off for a whole year or more, but they really all want to win in their hearts. So they give it their all. That’s just who they are. I love these girls. They’re awesome.”

Leading Monache in scoring with 20 points was freshman Alisha Verdejo. 

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Max Jimenez lost out on a football season this school year because of COVID-19, but he’ll get another one and more when he suits up for the University of La Verne.

The Granite Hills High School senior signed a letter of intent to play for the NCAA Division III Leopards next season in a small signing ceremony Monday at the high school. 

“It’s a little weird because I really wanted to play this year,” Jimenez said about signing without playing his senior year. “I felt like this was the year that I was going to do the best compared to my other years. Last year I felt like I did really good as a junior, but this year it was my last year, I had to do better than last year. But it still feels good. Still feels like nothing too different.”

During the 2019 season, Jimenez totaled seven touchdowns and had the second-most receiving yards in the Central Section Division VI with 937 yards. He also led the East Sequoia League with 516 yards in league play and was selected to the All-ESL first team.

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Porterville High School’s Brandon Rose is continuing his football career with Montana State University-Northern after signing with the NAIA Lights in mid-April.

Stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic prevented Rose from actually getting to visit the campus in Havre, Mon., let alone have a signing ceremony, but the senior said being offered a nearly full-ride athletic scholarship and a new experience helped him make his decision.

“I talked to the coach for a while, we had a lot of long talks and stuff,” Rose said. “And he always talked about how nice the weather is up there and how they get snow and stuff like that. And I thought it would just be like a really cool, new experience.”

Rose, who has a 3.5 GPA and plans to major in biology en route to a career in dentistry or nursing, was also thankful for an opportunity to continue playing football. 

Today Monache plays home, Porterville away

With four football games left in the season, three Orange Belt teams still need to pick up their fifth overall, or third league, win to qualify for the Central Section Division playoffs.

The East Sequoia League’s Strathmore (6-0, 2-0 ESL) and Lindsay (5-2, 2-1 ESL) have already qualified while the East Yosemite League’s Porterville is a win away from qualifying for the second year in a row.

On the brink are Monache (1-5, 0-1 EYL) and Granite Hills (1-5, 0-2 ESL), both of whom will miss playoffs if they lose two more games. 

Games stretch from today until Saturday, starting with Monache at home against Mission Oak and Porterville facing Tulare Western on the road. The Grizzlies host Farmersville Friday for homecoming and the Spartans are in Hanford Saturday to play Sierra Pacific.

The final team to take their bye this week is the Cardinals.

The last week of preseason football for the Orange Belt could end with one team being the first to qualify for postseason play.

Strathmore (4-0, 1-0 ESL) is undefeated through their first four games and a win at Kern Valley (1-3) on Friday would put them at the .500 postseason qualifying mark.

Both Strathmore and Porterville (3-1) play their final non-league games on the road with the Div. IV Panthers at Div. II Redwood (4-0).

After starting with losses in their East Sequoia League home-openers, Div. VI Granite Hills (1-4, 0-1 ESL) and Lindsay look to bounce back against one another in an ESL game on homecoming night at Div. VI Lindsay (3-2, 0-1 ESL)

On a bye this week is Monache (1-4).

All games Friday, LHS and SHS play home

The NFL returns tonight making football an almost daily thing over the next few months, but Friday nights still belong to the high school squads.

All Orange Belt teams have already picked up their first wins within the first two weeks, except for Monache who look to be on the heels of getting theirs after a close 23-14 loss to Chavez.

Strathmore stumbled some last week but picked up where they left off last season with a 42-6 win over Boron while Lindsay slipped by Morro Bay in a 7-0 victory.

Porterville was merciless in their 53-7 win over Granite Hills and will have a bye for week three.

This week all teams play on Friday with Lindsay and Strathmore at home while Granite Hills and Monache are on the road.