Shadow Hills boys and girls winter sports teams on a major roll

Shadow Hills boys and girls winter sports teams on a major roll

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Shadow Hills boys and girls winter sports teams on a major roll

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There hasn’t been specific symptoms like sniffles and sneezes, but there has been something contagious wafting through the halls of Shadow Hills High School this winter — winning.

The only side effect is tears of joy because everyone in the winter sports lineup has caught the bug.

With one game remaining on the schedule for soccer and basketball, the boys’ basketball team wrapped up its first De Anza League title and will be the top seed from the league for the upcoming CIF playoffs. The Knights have made that natural progression since they gained varsity status, but last year was the first taste of CIF following a third-place finish.

“We’re feeling good that we’ve built this program for the long run,” said coach Aaron Wiltrout, whose team is 8-1, 13-9 overall. “Our seniors have done a really good job of taking it seriously. They’ve been confident, kept their composure and played for each other.

“In those close games, no one was freaking out or panicking. That’s the sign of a good team.”

Sophomore Nathan Tiaga says it’s all been about team focus.

“We all wanted to get first place this year and do something that hadn’t been done,” said Tiaga.. “No one messed around in practice and we were all pretty serious. We’re putting a 100 percent effort into it.”

Now the basketball team will join the other handful of De Anza League banners in the gym. Volleyball, wrestling, baseball and softball have won titles, now boys’ basketball joins the ranks and boys’ soccer also has a chance.

After battling to a 0-0 tie against Desert Mirage, the Knights’ boys’ soccer team needed to win both remaining games to share the title with the Rams.

“We’re still in it mathematically,” said boys’ soccer coach Derek Orkney. “Playing wise, if we play our game we’ll be in it.”

Shadow Hills did what was needed against Yucca Valley on Wednesday, shutting out the Trojans 5-0. They improved to 5-1-1 in league play, 8-6-1 overall.

They will close the season Friday at Desert Hot Springs. Both the Rams (who face Yucca Valley) and the Knights need to win the season finale to share the league title.

In girls’ soccer, the Knights have solidified the second place spot in the league at 7-1-1 following Wednesday’s 7-0 triumph against Yucca Valley.

The Knights’ girls program returns to the postseason thanks to a strong non-league schedule. Shadow Hills played six Desert Valley League squads in the preseason and finished with a 3-3 mark.

In girls’ basketball, the Knights are still jockeying for position. While Twentynine Palms won the title, Yucca Valley, Desert Hot Springs and the Knights were battling. Shadow Hills has a chance to gain a postseason appearance after topping Yucca Valley 47-45 on Wednesday. They face Desert Hot Springs on Friday to snap a tie for the second and third-place spot.

“We had a rough start with injuries, transfer rules and a tough, non-conference schedule that allowed us two home games going into league,” said girls’ hoop coach Thaddis Bosley. “All of this has made us truly battle-tested and ready for the task that lies ahead. We are excited about what the girls are doing right now. After starting league at 0-2, it’s one heck of an accomplishment.”

Freshman Gianna Luna, senior Sarah Fregoso and sophomore Jada Toland have sparked the Knights to a solid 2014 campaign and a 5-4 league mark.

In wrestling, the Knights finished second in the league race at 5-2, gained a CIF team spot and now 12 wrestlers have advanced to the CIF Individuals, six as league champs.

Those league champions include: Isaac Flores, Edgar Santana, Alex Lopez, Emmanuel Correa, Gerardo Vargas and Orlando Ortega. They will compete Feb. 21-22 in Westminster.

In water polo, the Knights compete at a freelance team as there is no league-wide water polo in the De Anza League.

Shadow Hills athletic director Ron Shipley praised the coaches for the banner season.

“It has been a great winter sports season for the Knights,” he said. “All our players and coaches have done a tremendous job and have shown their dedication to taking our athletic program to a higher level.”

The Knights’ CIF playoff pairings for basketball will be announced Sunday and soccer will be available on Monday.

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