Last season, the Central Valley Conference had four teams that produced a winning record. Four teams made the post season and Fresno made a splash and had another stand out season. The Rams won the conference for the 17th straight season and picked up 28 wins. Fresno made a deep state championship run as the Rams suffered a tough loss against San Diego in the Final Four to end their season. Fresno continues to be the creme of the crop in the conference as the Rams have dominated for over a decade and a half. Columbia was another team within the conference that made its mark during the 2017-2018 season. The Claim Jumpers won 17 games and finished in 2nd place in conference action. Columbia earned an 8th seed in the post season but the Sonora based school suffered a 2nd round loss against Cabrillo to end their season. Sequoias had a standout season as the Giants won 21 games and went into the post season as a 6th seed. Sequoias picked up a home win in the 2nd round before losing to Yuba in the sweet sixteen ending their season. West Hills made the post season as well, as the Falcons put together a 19 win season and earned a 17th seed in the post season. West Hills picked up a first round win on the road before losing to top seeded San Francisco in the 2nd round of the Northern California playoffs. Reedley picked up double digits in wins but the Tigers missed the post season and will look to build off a decent finish in conference play. Porterville, Cerro Coso and Merced all had single digits in the win column and will look to improve in the 2018-2019 season. West Hills-Lemoore is a new program and will look to make their mark in their first season but will have a challenge coming into this much improved conference.
2018-2019 Signal The Light Basketball Central Valley Conference Preview
Fresno (28-5 overall, 13-1 1st place in Central Valley Conference): Last season the Rams had another standout season as Fresno started the season off winning six of their first nine games. Following a December 7th loss against Copper Mountain the Rams ran off a six game winning streak going into Central Valley Conference action. Fresno won their first eight games in conference action and the Rams took a January 31st loss but it was their only loss in Central Valley Conference action. Fresno won their final five games in conference action and finished Central Valley Conference play with a 13-1 record. The Rams were rewarded with a 2nd seed going into the 2017-2018 Northern California playoffs. Fresno picked up a 2nd round victory over Canada 98-79, followed that win with a 93-78 win over Gavilan and made a trip to the Elite Eight. Fresno cruised past Orange Coast 96-80 to make an appearance at the Final Four. The Rams faced San Diego in the Final Four and Fresno suffered a hard fought 90-82 loss and the Rams ended their season with a 28-5 record.
Head Coach: Ed Madec
Returnees: The Rams will return five players from last seasons team that made a trip to the Final Four. “6-4” Georgie Dancer returns to the Rams for his sophomore season after having a solid freshman season. Dancer averaged 9.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in his first season and the guard will bring a solid back court piece to the Rams this season. “6-2” David Rico returns as well as the sharp shooter shot 40% from downtown last season and the guard averaged 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in his freshman season. “6-7” Jared Small is back to the squad after averaging 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds and will bring versatility to the Rams this upcoming season. “6-4” Jonah Brown returns after averaging 6.8 points and shot 47% from downtown in his freshman season. “6-9” Carl Snyder will bring experience to the front court after averaging 3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in the 2017-2018 season.
Newcomers: The Rams have some solid players coming into the program and will welcome in three sophomores and some solid freshman to the Central Valley team. “6-10” Ethan Richardson comes into the program and is expected to make a solid contribution to the Rams this season. Richardson played part of his freshman season at City College of San Francisco and will look to be an impact player this season. “6-5” Ian Miller and “6-1” Vahe Aristakessian are both sophomores that will provide experience to the Rams this upcoming season. “6-5” Daniel Rico (Kerman HS), “5-8” Elijah Gallegos (Folsom HS), “6-2” DeRonquez Winn (Deeper Life Academy), “6-5” Ronald Agebsar (Sheldon HS), and “6-6” Ephraim Estell (Merrill West) are all freshman that will see time and look to put the Rams back at the top of the conference for an 18th straight season.
Projection: The Rams appear to be right back in the thick of things as Fresno seems to be bigger than they usually are. Fresno will go into the season as one of the top teams in the state and the Rams will have a target on their back as usual. We project the Rams as the favorite of the Central Valley Conference and could see Fresno making another deep post season run going into the 2018-2019 upcoming season.
Sequoias (21-9 overall, 10-4 3rd place in Central Valley Conference): Last season College of the Sequoias started off the season with a bang. The Giants suffered an opening loss against Cuesta but after the loss, Sequoias won six straight games and the state took notice after the Giants picked up wins against San Francisco and Fresno in the same weekend. Sequoias struggled following that weekend to a 5-3 record the rest of the non conference part of their schedule and went into conference with a 10-4 record. When conference rolled around, the Giants lost two straight to open up conference action against Fresno and Columbia. Sequoias rolled off four straight wins but had two set backs as the Giants lost to West Hills and Columbia and finished with a 10-4 record in Central Valley Conference action. The Giants picked up a 6th seed going into the post season and picked up a 2nd round victory against Lassen but Sequoias lost to 3rd seeded Yuba 87-69 in the sweet sixteen to end their 2017-2018 season.
Head Coach: Rusty Smith
Returnees: The Giants return only two players for the upcoming season after winning 21 games last season. “6-6” Michael Johnson returns for his second season after the sophomore averaged 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds last season as a freshman. “6-5” TJ Givance will return as well to the Giants after averaging 4.0 points and 4.4 rebounds last season. The two players saw limited action but are expected to have a bigger role for the Giants this upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Giants lost a lot of pieces from a year ago and will welcome in plenty of help this season. “6-10” Tristan Forsyth is expected to make an impact for Sequoias. The big man averaged 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season at Ellsworth CC last season and has verbally committed to Cal Baptist. The big man is expected to be a center piece for the Giants this upcoming season. “6-2” Keshawn Gibbs comes into the program after transferring from Olive-Harvey CC as the guard averaged 9.1 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. “6-0” Bobby Santos (Tr Cal State East Bay), “6-6” Jarell Holmes (Dacula HS), “6-6” Elihu Cobb (St. Joes HS) and “6-3” Deeandre Hulett (Tulare Western HS) will all be freshman that could contribute this season for the Giants.
Projection: The Giants will look to be a solid team for the upcoming season. Sequoias lost a lot of pieces from last seasons team but have reloaded and it appears the Giants are going to be in the thick of things. Sequoias will look to challenge Fresno at the top of the conference and we expect the Giants to have another successful season and make the post season.
Columbia (17-8 overall, 11-3 2nd place in Central Valley Conference): Last season the ClaimJumpers got off to a slow start as Columbia was 2-3 in their first five games of the season. Columbia went 2-1 the rest of the non conference part of the season and went into Central Valley Conference as a team that had a chance to make some noise. Columbia won their first two games of conference but suffered a 78-75 loss against Fresno at home. Columbia won their next six games in conference but the Claimjumpers lost two straight games which cost them a chance at winning the Central Valley Conference championship. Columbia finished conference play with an 11-3 record and finished in 2nd place. The Claimjumpers earned an 8th seed going into the post season and hosted a home game but Columbia suffered a 60-50 loss against 9th seeded Cabrillo to end their 2017-2018 season.
Head Coach: Rob Hoyt
Returnees: The Claimjumpers return four players from last seasons team that won 17 games and finished in 2nd place in the Central Valley Conference. “6-5” Yosnier Cobas returns for his sophomore campaign as the big man averaged 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in his freshman season. Cobas was the freshman of the year in the conference and will be one of the elite players around the state. “5-10” Maurice Woods will bring experience to the back court and be an elite guard within the conference after a solid freshman season. Woods averaged 11.3 points and 4.5 assists in his first season. “6-6” Trey Porter (3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds) and “6-3” Connor Reese will add experience to the Claimjumpers for the upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Claimjumpers are expecting four newcomers to step up and contribute this season. “6-1” Seth Coddington (Dillard HS), “6-1” Jamiree Williams (Lockport, LA) will be two guards that could contribute this season for Columbia. “6-5” Landis Spivey (Langston Hughes Academy) and “6-8” Noel Alexander (Dillard HS) are two other players that could contribute this season for the Claimjumpers.
Projection: The Claimjumpers will look to have another standout season. Columbia seems to be the team that we always overlook in the projection but always seem to finish towards the top of the standings. Coach Hoyt does a great job with his players and this year will not be any different as the Claimjumpers will be in the thick of things again for the upcoming season. We project the Claimjumpers to make a run towards the top of the standings and make it to the post season this upcoming season but will they have enough depth to challenge and finish ahead of Sequoias and Fresno in the 2018-2019 season?
Porterville (7-18 overall, 2-12 tied for 7th place in Central Valley Conference): The Porterville Pirates started the season off with two consecutive losses and the Pirates never found consistency in the win column. Porterville finished non conference action with a 5-6 record and the Pirates look to make a solid showing in Central Valley Conference action. Porterville started off conference action with a win over Merced but the Pirates lost six straight games before picking up another win against Merced. The Pirates lost their last six games of the season and finished the regular season with a 7-18 record and finished tied for 7th in Central Valley Conference action with a 2-12 record.
Head Coach: Rob Haynes
Returnees: The Pirates will return one player from last seasons team. “5-11” Elijah Cardenas returns for his sophomore season as the sophomore averaged 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds last season. The sophomore will stretch the floor for the Pirates after making 39 three pointers last season and making 37% from behind the three point line in his freshman season.
Newcomers: Coach Rob Haynes will welcome in plenty of newcomers this upcoming season. “6-2” D.J. Wilson is expected to have an impact this season for the Pirates as the sophomore will provide some experience to the team. “6-5” Da’Morea Green and “6-3” Alonso Valle are two sophomores that redshirted last season and will help out the Pirates this upcoming season. “6-3” Dominic King (Gahr HS) will be an impact freshman coming in as the point guard showed a lot of potential at the jamborees this fall. “6-4” Treager Wallace (Porterville HS) and “6-10” Mario Dawson (West HS) are two other freshmen that will look to contribute this upcoming season.
Projection: Porterville will be a very inexperienced team for the upcoming season. The Pirates will return one player from last season but Porterville has a couple of solid pieces to build on to this season. We project the Pirates to finish in the middle of the pack this season and a good chance to have a better season than a year ago.
Reedley (11-15 overall, 6-8 5th place in Central Valley Conference): The Reedley Tigers had an inconsistent 2017-2018 season. Reedley seemed to have trouble to put together any type of streaks last season. The Tigers started off the season flirting around the .500 mark as Reedley finished non conference action going 5-7. In conference action, Reedley was back and forth in the win and loss column as the Tigers never picked up consecutive wins in Central Valley Conference action. Reedely finished conference action with a 6-8 record and finished in 5th place and missed the post season in 2017-2018.
Head Coach: T.J. Jennings
Returnees: The Tigers will return two players from last season team. “6-6” Ruben Parks returns for his sophomore season after having a spectacular freshmen season. The wing from Fresno, California averaged 17.2 points and 5.4 rebounds and is expected to be an impact player for the Tigers this upcoming season. Parks scored in double figures in 24 out of 25 games last season and scored a season high of 38 points against Porterville last season. “6-1” Cole Taber returns as well for Reedley after averaging 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in limited action a year ago.
Newcomers: The Tigers will have a lot of freshman that could contribute this upcoming season as coach T.J. Jennings has a solid core coming into the program. “6-2” Khalid Wilkins (Sandy Creek HS), “6-2” Chase Howell (Mt. Vernon Presbyterian) and “5-11” Uriah Carter (Central HS) are all guards expected to have an impact this season for the Tigers. “6-4” Dwayne Howell (Hoover HS), “6-5” J.J. Johnson (Edison HS),and “6-6” James Hannah (Edison HS) are three players that will provide length for Reedley this upcoming season.
Projection: Reedley could be a team that could make some noise in the conference this season and jump into the upper half of conference. The Tigers have some solid guard play, and return one of the best scorers from last season back for his sophomore campaign. We project the Tigers will finish in the middle of the pack with a chance to make some noise and finish in the upper half of the Central Valley Conference for the upcoming season.
West Hills-Coalinga (19-8 overall, 9-5 4th place in Central Valley Conference): Last season the Falcons jumped out to one of the hottest starts in the state as West Hills won eight of their first ten games. West Hills had a solid non conference part of their season as the Falcons went 9-2 going into Central Valley Conference play. The Falcons continued to play solid basketball in conference play as West Hills won their first four games, but West Hills lost two straight games on the road against Columbia and Fresno and fell out of the race. West Hills struggled in the second half of Central Valley Conference action and the Falcons lost their final three games of conference action and finished in 4th place. The Falcons earned a 17th seed going into the post season and West Hills picked up a 81-76 win on the road against Monterey Peninsula in the 1st round. In the second round of the playoffs, West Hills suffered a 84-63 loss against top seeded San Francisco and the Falcons finished the season with a 19-8 record.
Head Coach: Adedokun Olanrewaju
Returnees: The Falcons will return five sophomores to the team for the 2018-2019 season. “6-2” Ricardo Time will be an impact player that will be returning for his sophomore season. Time averaged 9.5 points and 6.4 rebounds and is expected to put up bigger numbers this season. “6-3” TJ Johnson is back for his second season and is expected to have a break out season after averaging 4.6 points in his first season. “6-0” Isaiah Green (2.2 points), “5-11” Matthew Pitter (1.5 points), and “5-11” Jordy Saintvil (2.7 points) will all provide experience to the back court for the upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Falcons will welcome in a new coach to the sidelines as Adedokun Olanrewaju takes over the program. Olanrewaju takes over the program after hall of fame coach Mark Arce retired after a storied career. From a player standpoint the Falcons are expecting three sophomores to come in and contribute. “6-2” Joseph Nicolas comes into the program from Nassau Community College and will add experience to the back court. “6-6” Sheila McDowell and “6-4” Gabriel Kerrihard will be two players that will provide experience to the Falcons. “6-5” Terrell Garner (Laguna Creek HS) and “6-4” Malcolm Clayton (Modesto Christian HS) are two freshman that are expected to contribute in the upcoming season.
Projection: The Falcons will look to return to the post season but it will be a tough task in front of them. With a coaching change it will be interesting to see how the culture shapes out. West Hills returns five players off last seasons team, and the Falcons will look to have another standout season. We project the Falcons to have a solid season and finish in the middle of the pack with a chance to finish in the upper half in Central Valley Conference action for the 2018-2019 season.
Cerro Coso (7-18 overall, 3-11 5th place in Central Valley Conference): Last season the Coyotes came back into action after a break from competition and Cerro Coso competed in the Central Valley Conference. The Coyotes started the season losing six of their first seven games. Cerro Coso found some wins in late December as the Coyotes won three straight before closing out non conference action with a loss against East Los Angeles. In conference action, Cerro Coso struggled but the Coyotes picked up two wins against Porterville and Merced and finished in 5th place in Central Valley Conference action. Cerro Coso won 7 games last season and the Coyotes will look to improve in the upcoming 2018-2019 season.
Head Coach: Chris Dugan
Returnees: The Coyotes return three players off last seasons team that won 7 games and finished in 5th place in the Central Valley Conference. “6-3” Dom Phillips is expected to be an impact player throughout the conference as the guard put up big numbers as a freshman. Phillips averaged 16.8 points, 4.0 rebounds in his freshman season. The guard shot 41% from downtown, made 66 three pointers, and scored a season high of 37 points against West Hills last season. “5-9” Brock Duffield returns for his sophomore season for the Coyotes as the guard averaged 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds last season. Duffield will bring experience to the back court this season. “6-2” Mark Moreno will add experience to the team after averaging 4.9 points and 3.4 rebounds last season.
Newcomers: Chris Dugan takes over the Coyote program after being the lead assistant at College of the Sequoias the past five seasons. “5-9” Jon Foster (Riverdale HS) and “6-5” Jordan Pumphrey (Bakersfield HS) are two freshman that are expected to contribute this season for the Coyotes.
Projection: Dugan took over the program pretty late in the summer and did not get a chance to recruit but with that being said we expect the culture to shift towards the bright side. The Coyotes return one of the best scorers within the conference but will that be enough to push them into the upper half of the conference. Depth and inexperience will be a question and with that being said, we expect Cerro Coso to finish in the lower half of the conference but don’t be surprised if they knock off some teams in the middle of the pack within the Central Valley Conference.
West Hills-Lemoore: NEW PROGRAM COMING INTO THE 2018-2019 SEASON
Head Coach: Donnye Ross
Newcomers: Donnye Ross takes over the new program located in Lemoore, California in the Central Valley. Ross will welcome in all newcomers and will have one sophomore listed on the roster. “6-3” Dylan Gonzales will be coming into the program from Reedley JC and be the only sophomore listed and provide experience to the team. “6-0” Tyler Fields, “6-1” Tresean Jordan and “5-10” Darius Zeno will all be freshman that are expected to contribute this season for the Golden Eagles.
Projection: The Golden Eagles are coming into a conference that has made improvements the last couple of years. West Hills-Lemoore will be a very inexperienced bunch and learn on the fly and coach Ross will try and build the Golden Eagles culture. We expect them to take plenty of lumps this first season and try and stay competitive in the lower half of the Central Valley Conference.
Merced (4-22 overall, 2-12 tied for 7th place in Central Valley Conference): Merced College had a down season a year ago after having a solid 2016-2017 season. The Blue Devils lost nine of their first ten games of the season and never fully recovered and found the win column following the tough start. Merced picked up one more win before conference started but the Blue Devils went 2-10 in non conference action. In conference play, lost their first five games and the Blue Devils struggled the rest of the way picking up one more win the rest of the season. Merced finished the season winning four games and finished tied for 7th place in Central Valley Conference play finishing with a 2-12 record.
Head Coach: Bill Russel
Returnees: The Blue Devils will return four players from last seasons team and have two players back that averaged in double figures. “6-1” Kesean Warren returns for his sophomore season as the guard averaged 14.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. Warren will provide scoring and experience to the back court for the upcoming season. “6-4” Chris Roberson returns back for his second season for the Blue Devils after averaging 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds last season for Merced. “5-10” Jose Delacruz (3.2 points and 2.1 assists) and “5-10” Rene Lampley (4.2 points) will add experience to the back court this upcoming season.
Newcomers: The Blue Devils will welcome in some new faces to the program and have two sophomores coming into the program. “6-0” Kyle Anaya is coming in from Columbia JC and will provide sophomore experience and “6-6” Paul Clark returns to the Merced program after averaging 7.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 2015-2016 for the Blue Devils. “6-6” Cyrus Allen (Golden Valley HS), “6-6” Tyree Wiggins (Ayden, NC), “6-4” Chris Hanham (Pitman HS) and “6-2” Alex Stewart (Merced HS) are all freshman that could contribute this season for Merced.
Projection: Merced returns two players that averaged in double figures a year ago and bring in a lot of newcomers. The Blue Devils won four games last season but we expect them to show some improvement this upcoming season. We project Merced to have a better season but still expect them to finish in the lower half of the conference as many teams have improved as well coming into the 2018-2019 season.
2018-2019 Signal The Light Basketball Central Valley Conference Projection
5. West Hills
7. Cerro Coso
9. West Hills-Lemoore
It appears to be a three team race in the Central Valley Conference for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. With that being said, until someone knocks off Fresno how can we pick against the Rams. Fresno has reloaded and appears to be one of the best teams in the state. We expect the Rams to be an impact team and a possible team that is contending for a state championship. Sequoias and Columbia will have the challenge of trying to dethrone the Central Valley Kings. Sequoias has a solid core and will be an elite team in Northern California but will they have enough to knock off the Rams at the top spot. Columbia has been the team that has been the biggest threat to the Rams the past two seasons, but will the Claimjumpers have enough size to knock off Fresno? Columbia has talent and it is going to be interesting to see if this is the year that Fresno finishes outside of 1st place. Reedley, West Hills, and Porterville are three teams that could make a push for the post season but we expect Reedley to make a solid jump in the standings. West Hills and Porterville appear to be competitive but will they have enough to jump into the upper half of the conference. Cerro Coso will look to be competitive as Chris Dugan will look to change the culture and get in double digits in the win column. Merced could be another team that may surprise us, but at the end of the day the Blue Devils could be a team that will be competitive and make a run towards the middle and upper half of the conference. West Hills-Lemoore are the new kids on the block and it will be a learning experience for their first season.