the top seven sports stories in the county, as selected by sports reporter Brian Pearson
Williams boys soccer wins NSCIF D-III title
On Feb. 24, for the first time in nearly a decade, Williams High School’s boy’s soccer program brought home a Northern Section Championship.
It was the first section championship for Williams head coach Humberto Guzman.
The Yellowjackets, the No. 4-seed in the NSCIF D-III tournament who finished behind Willows and Hamilton in the Mid-Valley League table, upset the top-seeded Honkers 2-1 in the semi-final game to arrive at the championship against No. 2 seed Hamilton.
Against the Honkers, Williams was down 1-0 at the intermission but capitalized on two crucial second-half mistakes by the Willows defense to come away with a stunning come-from-behind win.
Williams’ Jorge Rodriguez netted the equalizer in the 50th minute after an errant header from a Williams fullback. With just two minutes left in the game, he headed the game-winner over Willows’ goalie.
The championship game against Hamilton was deadlocked at 0-0 after the first 75 minutes, until Uriel Velazquez suffered a foul outside the 18-yard line, and Guzman sent out Mauricio Morales to take the direct free kick.
Morales – who had a goal and two assists in Williams’ first-round victory of No. 5 seed University Prep – delivered again for the Yellowjackets. He launched his shot beyond the Braves goalkeeper and into their net for the win.
The Yellowjackets weren’t done there, however. Their season continued with the Northern California Regional Tournament, with No. 4 seed Williams opening against No. 5 seed Live Oak. The Yellowjackets blew away the Lions 5-0, using quick passes and keeping constant pressure to set up five different players for goals. In In the 35th minute, Martin Gomez passed to teammate Mauricio Morales in front of the net for the first goal. Three minutes later, Gerardo Gomez centered a pass toward Jorge Rodriguez. Before the break, Omar Paniagua joined the offensive with a rocket from the top of the goal box, making it 3-0.
The last two scores came in the last 10 minutes of the contest.
Uriel Velazquez seized a loose ball in front of the net for the team’s fourth goal, and Antonio Gonzalez came off the bench to earn an assist on the final score. He crossed toward the center, perfectly leading teammate Alex Martinez, who charged in for the goal.
Williams goalkeeper Diego Jauregui recorded seven saves to earn the shutout, which vaulted the Yellowjackets to the NorCal semifinals, setting up a meeting with top-seeded Le Grand. After taking a 1-1 tie into halftime – with Morales netting Williams’ goal, on an assist from Jesus Paiz – Le Grande surged ahead in the second half and put the game out of reach.
Williams finished their season with a record of 13-4-2 (6-2-1 Mid-Valley League).
Colusa boys basketball falls just short of a section title
The Sacramento Valley League champion RedHawks stormed into the NSCIF Division V playoffs riding an 11-game win streak (which included a perfect run of their league games), earning the No. 2 seed in the section tournament.
They expanded that win streak to 13 games – dismantling Portola 75-43 in the opening round of the playoffs before beating No. 3 seed Durham 62-57 in the semifinals – to earn a trip to the title game at Butte College, where they faced off with No. 1 seed Mt. Shasta.
For the better part of three quarters, the REdHawks looked poised to capture their first section championship in more than 25 years: they led by as many as nine points in the first half, and held a 33-27 lead heading into the locker room at halftime. It seemed as if every time that Mt. Shasta began to close the gap in the first half, the RedHawks would put together a scoring run to pad their lead again.
But the scoring runs got fewer and further between for Colusa in the third and fourth quarters. Mt. Shasta took their fist lead of the game with just 45 seconds left in the third quarter, and pulled ahead for good in the fourth – hitting all their free-throws down the stretch to come away with a 66-56 victory.
Conner Saso, then a junior at Colusa, dropped 19 points to lead RedHawks scorers. Gerry Moreno added 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Blake Steidlmayer had a game-high 11-assists, but their efforts weren’t enough to push Colusa past Mt. Shasta.
Colusa struggled to contain Mt. Shasta’s star guard Cole Riccomini, who finished with a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double, and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Colusa, in contrast, struggled from the charity stripe sinking just 4-of-14 free-throws as a team.
After the loss, Colusa earned the 14-seed in the CIF State Playoff Bracket and ended their season with a 53-45 loss to Colfax in the opening round.
The RedHawks finished their season with a 24-6 record (8-0 SVL). In addition to winning a league championship, earning a trip to the Northern Section finals and a berth to the State playoffs, Colusa was a perfect 6-0 against other county teams: they beat Pierce in the third-place game of the Pierce Tournament on Dec. 1, 64-39. They beat Williams four days later, 71-62, in a non-league game. In their own Georgia Raczniak Tournament, they defeated Maxwell 65-47, and beat Williams again 64-51. They beat Pierce twice during their perfect Sacramento Valley League run, including a 66-58 win on Jan. 17, and 52-40 on Feb. 2.
Colusa’s key contributors over the course of the season included Saso, Moreno, Steidlmayer, Will Kalisuch and Tylor Gerrard. Saso was Colusa’s top scorer on the season, averaging 13.8 points per game. Not far behind him was 2018 Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame senior athlete honoree Will Kalisuch, who averaged 13.3 points per game. Moreno averaged 10.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, Gerrard averaged 9.8 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks, while Steidlmayer averaged 8.6 points and a team high 4.3 assists per game.
Colusa golf continues a spate of D-III dominance
For the third straight year, the Colusa RedHawks golf team earned a Northern Section Division III title. This time around, it wasn’t even close.
Colusa might have posted higher-than-normal scores at the Section Championship tournament at the Arbuckle Golf Club on May 7 – but the fast greens and tough pin placements were tough on everyone.
Colusa shot 441 as a team, which was 85 strokes better than Mt. Shasta, who took second place. It was more than 100 strokes better than Chester and Modoc, which took third and fourth, respectively.
Colusa’s top golfer was Braden Lyss, who shot 84 – which was six strokes off the lead and tied for the second-best individual score at the championship. Ben Davies shot 86, Liam Dewit shot 87, Andrew Ferraiuolo shot 89, and Ben Rainsbarger shot 95 to round out the RedHawks top five golfers.
Colusa followed up their Division III championship with a trip to the Northern Section Masters Tournament, which was played at the Graeagle Meadows Golf Course. Colusa struggled, shooting a 468 as a team at the Masters Tournament to finish fifth out of the five teams competing there – which included the best schools from Divisions I and II: Chico, U Prep, West Valley, and Pleasant Valley.
Colusa County Ducks flock to the podium Junior State Trap Championship
The Colusa County Youth Shooting Sports team made has been making a name for itself since it formed in 2017. This year, they made it known to the competitive youth shooting world that they are the among the best in California.
The Ducks sent a total of 13 shooters to the California youth Shooting Sports Association’s Junior State Trap Championship on June 2-3, and every one of them came home with trophies.
Two Ducks – Gus Doherty and Grayson Hardwick – earned the title of State Champion in their respective divisions.
Doherty and Hardwick each hit 197 of 200 targets during the event, good for first place in the Intermediate Advanced (IA) and Intermediate Entry (IE) divisions, respectively.
In addition to the two state champions, the Ducks had three other individual shooters reach the podium in various divisions: Gus Armstrong took second in the Rookie Division by hitting 181 of 200 targets, and Parker Gill took third, hitting 179 of 200 targets. Chase Carrere finished just behind Doherty in the IA Division, scoring a 195 to take second place.
On top of the individual achievements, the Ducks had the top squad in two of three divisions at the Junior State Trap Championship. Their Rookie Squad – composed of Armstrong, Gill, and Dustin Wurm – earned a first place finish by hitting 515 of 600 combined targets.
Doherty, Carrere, Anthony Felix, Tyler Moss, and Garrett Goodman combined to hit 920 of 1,000 total targets, earning themselves bragging rights as the top IA Squad in the state.
The Ducks’ IE Squad, which included Hardwick, Thomas Casillas, Carter Long, Parker Goodman, and Wade Traynham, finished third in their division, hitting 830 of 1,000 total targets.
Colusa County also received the “High 5” award – an accumulation of points from their five highest shooters, regardless of division – for both the season and the tournament.
During the CYSSA State Trap Shoot for the Junior Varsity and Varsity Divisions on June 16-17, Blake Kalfsbeek earned a fifth-place finish by shooting 191 of 200 targets at the tournament in Stockton.
The Ducks duplicated that success during the Sporting Clays season, which wrapped up with the Sporting Clays State Shoot in Zamora on Dec. 9.
A total of nine individual shooters from the Colusa County Youth Shooting Sports club reached the podium there.
Earning a first-place finish in their respective divisions were Cade Smith in the Rookie Division (54-of-100 targets), Gus Armstrong in the Intermediate-Entry Division (90-of-100), and Anthony Felix in the Junior Varsity Division (89-of-100).
Also reaching the podium in the Intermediate-Entry Division were Parker Gill (74-of-100) and Dustin Wurm, who took second and third, respectively, after a shoot-off. Grayson Hardwick finished third in the Intermediate-Advanced Division (77-of-100), and Gus Doherty finished second in the Junior Varsity Division (88-of-100). Narrowly missing the podium in the JV Division was Chase Carrere, who lost in a shoot-off for third place. In the Varsity Division, Dillon Wurm came out on top of a shoot-off for a second-place finish.
In addition to the individual accolades, the club received numerous team awards at the Sporting Clays State Shoot.
Colusa County’s Varsity took first place in the State High 3, and their JV took first place in the State High 3 as well as the Series High 3. The club as a whole placed first in Series High 3 and second in State High 3.
The Ducks’ varsity squad – composed of Dillan Wurm, Devin Wurm, and Caleb Camara – took second place at the State Shoot, as did their Intermediate-Advanced squad (Elle Farris, Thomas Casillas, Grayson Hardwick). Their Junior Varsity squad (Anthony Felix, Gus Doherty, Chase Carrere) took first, as did their Intermediate-Entry squad (Gus Armstrong, Parker Gill, Dustin Wurm).■