Try choosing one clear-cut favorite in the race for the West Yosemite League boys championship.
Mt. Whitney boys coach Robert Aguilar can’t do it, and his team has won at least a share of each of the last two titles.
The Pioneers ran the table en route to their title last year, but there is no expectation for any WYL team to accomplish that feat this year.
The Pioneers started defense of their title with a 57-53 victory over Golden West on Wednesday night at Mt. Whitney.
“There is no dominant team that you can say is the clear-cut favorite,” Aguilar said. “Every game this year will be a battle.”
The Pioneers had their hands full against Golden West in their very first game.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 32-22 lead in the first half, but Golden West battled back to outscore the Pionners 20-8 in the third quarter and take a 42-40 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Mt. Whitney outscored Golden West 17-11 in the fourth to seal the victory.
Leading the way for the Pioneers was Dannon Frigulti with a solid all-around performance. The senior forward finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“It is pure strength,” Aguilar said of Friguiti’s performance. “He has to be one of the strongest players in the WYL. He’s finally healthy and he’s finally getting the opportunity to show how well he can play.”
Ethan Moore scored a team-high 14 points for the Pioneers, and Tucker Mendonca added 13 points.
Golden West (0-1, 3-10) was led by Troy Stainbrook with 13 points and Anthony Chandler with 11 points.
The Pioneers (1-0, 6-6) will play at El Diamante on Friday. Golden West hosts Hanford.
Redwood 66, Hanford 61: Two Rangers scored 20 or more points to capture a road win over the Ballpups in their WYL opener in Hanford.
Ricky Ramirez led Redwood (8-5, 1-0) with 22 points and six steals while Mikey Montoya netted 20. No other Ranger scored more than four points.
Redwood’s lead grew to as many as 12, but Hanford cut it down to two points with only minutes remaining in the game. Montoya hit several clutch free throws to seal the win.
Up next for the Rangers is an important league home game against Hanford West at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Visalia.
Mission Oak 72, Shafter 34: Three Hawks finished with double-digit points to lead Mission Oak (10-2) past Shafter in the opening round of the Garces Holiday Tournament.
Bobby Alvarado scored 24 points, followed by Kollan Mundley with 19 points and Blake Shannon with 11.
Mission Oak advances to face Frontier at 4:30 p.m. today.
Golden West 2, Hanford West 0: The Trailblazers defeated the Huskies for their first West Yosemite League win of the season.
Jessica Glick and Amanda Hernandez each scored goals to lead Golden West, which improved to 1-2 in the WYL.
Redwood 4, Lemoore 2: The Rangers trailed 1-0 but rallied to beat the Tigers in a West Yosemite League game.
Stephanie Funk and Kindal Mendes each scored two goals to help lead Redwood’s comeback. Ashlee DeMascio and Kylie McClellan each had assists, and goalkeeper Caitlin Owens recorded four saves.
The Rangers will play at El Diamante on Friday.
El Diamante 6, Hanford 1: Freshman Francisco Medina recorded a hat trick and the Miners defeated the Bullpups in a West Yosemite League match.
Jay Halim, Cesar Flores and Juan Diego Medina each added one goal, and goalkeeper Diego Olivares finished with six saves.
The Miners (2-0, 7-3-2) will play at Redwood on Friday.
Redwood 4, Lemoore 1: Four different players scored goals and the Rangers defeated teh Tigers in a West Yosemite League game.
Miguel Garcia got the scoring started in the 26th minute, and Jarret Jones, Danny Ruiz and Nicholas Luna each followed with goals of their own.
The Rangers (2-1, 5-9) will host El Diamante on Friday.
Mission Oak 2, Lindsay 2: Kecxy Castillo and Jorge Beltran each scored two goals as the Hawks tied the Cardinals in a nonleague match.
Lindsay scored two goals in the final eight minutes to force the draw.