The Tokay and Lodi girls basketball teams both made brilliant runs through the playoffs before their unfortunate exits on Wednesday night at the Spanos Center, leaving both teams one game short of their first trip to the section championship game.
Neither of these teams have anything to be ashamed of and both squads were playing long after many other supposedly superior teams were sent packing. Congratulations to both teams and their head coaches, Lodi's Erin Aitken and Tokay's Cip Sanchez, for representing our city with honor and class.
Tokay's shocking upsets of No. 5 Turlock and No. 4 Sheldon rallied many in the community behind the Lady Tigers. The Tigers' game-ending 17-0 run against a Sheldon Huskies team that won the Division I title two years ago will have basketball fans talking about it for years to come.
Larry Kimble and his unheralded No. 16-seeded Elliot Eagles boys basketball team nearly pulled off a shocker in the boys Division V playoffs, leading No. 1 Sierra Christian for most of their first-round game before falling by three points, 50-47. That was despite playing without 6-foot-6 starting center Travis Dodd, who was lost to injury.
Some of the area's finest senior basketball players will be sorely missed by their respective programs come next year and all deserve a standing ovation for their outstanding play this season.
• Marcus Thomas - Tokay's senior big man stepped out of the shadow of older brother Julius to prove he was just as dominating a player inside the paint this season for the Tigers.
• Sylvonya Moore - Always worth the price of admission, Tokay fans marveled at this speedy 5-6 playmaker with springs in her heels who could score, rebound and dish off assists.
• Johnathan Herold - Lodi's senior 3-point specialist often shot down opposing teams with his clutch, long-range bombing.
• Scott Hubbard - The Flames' do-everything guy, Hubbard always seemed to grab a rebound or make the defensive play of the game when his team needed it most.
• Allie Ehlers - The Lady Flames' defensive specialist, a three-year starter, always took on the other team's best offensive player and often shut them down.
• Liz Armstrong - A three-year starter for Lodi, Armstrong's steady play and consistent leadership helped pave the way for Lodi's younger players to step up their games.
• Josh Hanson - Whether driving to the hoop or hitting the 3, Hanson could be counted on to make electrifying plays night in and night out for Elliot.
• Chase Dodgion - Elliot's 3-point specialist and defensive stalwart carried the Eagles in the clutch and helped take the pressure off Hanson.
• Chelsea Cornwell - The Lady Eagles' leading scorer shined bright in the midst of an uncharacteristic down year for the Elliot girls.
• Brent Harrison - Led the Galt boys in scoring for the second consecutive year.
• Sterling Shells - The Warriors defensive stopper was second on the Galt boys in scoring.
• Samantha Messersmith - The Lady Warriors' best player and leading scorer and rebounder the past two seasons will now take her game to the next level.
• Ryan Carleton - Congratulations also go out to Lodi's Carleton for making it to the Masters wrestling tourney and the state championships in the 189-pound class.
Kudos also to his cohorts, Wally Andersen and Kevin Schmeirer, as well as Tokay wrestlers Zach Schallberger and Parrish Hudson for making it to the Masters tourney and each winning league titles.