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Lodi Flames' wrestling title highlighted winter season

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:00 am

This year's Winter Wrapup was delayed to accommodate the section and state champion St. Mary's Lady Rams girls basketball team's extended playoff run as well as the Tri-City Athletic League All-Star selections for both the girls and boys teams, which take place after all winter league sports are concluded.

While it was a lean winter with no league championships for the local prep basketball teams with the exception of St. Mary's, several girls and one boys squad did make it into the playoffs and all of them exited with a first-round loss.

On a brighter note, the Lodi wrestling team won a league championship for the first time in 26 years and Tokay had one wrestler make it into the second day of competition in the Masters tournament.

Here are the "Richie" awards honoring the best athletic achievements this winter with a handshake and a pat on the back for a job well done.

Boys Basketball

Tokay — Despite routinely being at a height disadvantage, fiery 6-foot senior forward Mike Hernandez was an All-TCAL second-team selection and was the Tigers' go-to guy in the low post, leading the team in rebounds and scoring inside the paint this season.

Lodi — Whether drilling a 3-pointer or slashing to the rim for layups, senior guard Ryan Gaarder, an All-San Joaquin Athletic Association first-team pick, excelled on both ends of the court with his smart play and clutch, game-winning heroics this season.

Elliot Christian — A three-year starter, Bubba Wall, a senior forward and an All-Harvest Christian League first-teamer, led the Eagles with 17 points and six rebounds a game and to a berth in the section playoffs.

Galt — Jeff Dela Cruz, a court-savvy junior with excellent hoops genetics. Dela Cruz, whose father is the Warriors girls head coach and sister Jessica a former Galt girls basketball legend, led the boys team with his 14.3 scoring average this season.

Girls Basketball

Elliot Christian — The relentless Leslie Huber, an All-HCL first-team selection for the Lady Eagles, averaged 19.4 points, seven rebounds and just over four steals a game and took her team to the section playoffs.

Galt — Amanda Eckroth came into her own as a scorer this year, leading the Lady Warriors with 14 points per game and 70 3-pointers this season.

Lodi — Shantel Dickerson was one of the few bright spots in a long rebuilding year for the Lady Flames. She averaged a team-high six points a game and was named to the All-SJAA second team.

Tokay — Tori Schallberger, an All-TCAL second-team selection, averaged 14.3 points per game for the Lady Tigers and her defense and hustling style of play helped Tokay reach the section playoffs.

St. Mary's — Ali Gibson was named to the All-TCAL first team and Alle Moreno was a second-team selection and both Lodi residents were instrumental in the Lady Rams 'playoff run to the section title and state championship this season.

Lodi Academy: In only her second year on the varsity, 6-2 Lisa Marxmiller was an All-HCL first-team selection and led the Lady Titans in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and to their second postseason berth in as many years.


Lodi — Sophomore Jacob Holley captured the SJAA 140-pound title and advanced to both the section and Masters meets.

Tokay — Alex LeCocq, the TCAL 140-pound champion, advanced to the section meet and was the only local wrestler to make it to the second day of the Masters meet.

Galt — John Brower, A 215-pounder, earned his spot in the Masters meet with a thrilling 2-1 win in the fifth-place final at the section championships as the Warriors' lone representative.

Coaching Performance

After capping a remarkable four-year run that included a record of 95-7, three consecutive Division III section titles and two back-to-back state championships, there is no question that St. Mary's Tom Gonsalves has the area's premier girls basketball program. In eight section and state playoff games, St. Mary's outscored its opponents, 674-372.

It may have been the best team ever for Gonsalves, the former Tokay boys coach whose daughter Emily, a senior guard, was also on this year's team. The Rams set several scoring records in their 89-41 win over Bishop Amat in the Division III title game, including largest margin of victory (48) and most points scored in a championship final.

Contact reporter Richard Banas II at