The 2018-19 high school sports year was filled with so many great competitions between local teams that provided intensity, drama, joy and anguish. It was an emotional roller-coaster ride full of memorable moments, but no events brought local fans to the edge of their seats and then straight out of them quite like these. In the second part of the Ledger Dispatch’s 2018-19 High School Sports Year in Review three-part series, we recap the Games of the Year involving teams from our coverage area that includes Amador, Argonaut and Calaveras high schools. Check out our picks:
Amador JV football team stuns Calaveras in final minutes
It was the opening night of Mother Lode League play on September 28 in San Andreas and the Amador JV football team trailed defending league champion Calaveras 14-0 with just a little more than 3 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The JV Buffaloes wanted so badly to avenge their only loss from the previous season, but time was quickly running out on that opportunity. Just not quickly enough for Calaveras. Amador sophomore Kole Alleyn scored on a quarterback keeper with 3:16 to play to cut the Calaveras lead to 14-7 and Amador recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to take possession on the Calaveras 8-yard line. After going nowhere on three straight plays, Alleyn connected with freshman Tony Ortiz in the end zone on fourth and 8 to bring the Buffaloes to within one point with 2:30 left. With the possibility of a tie looming – there is no overtime in JV football – Amador coach Matt Kantack made the decision to go for two on the extra point to try and win the game. Another successful pass by Alleyn to the end zone on the 2-point conversion gave Amador the 15-14 lead. Calaveras had one last possession to try and win the game, but an interception by Alleyn with 1:00 left sealed an improbable 15-14 come-from-behind win for the Buffaloes, who went on to complete a perfect season and win the MLL title.
Argonaut varsity football team wins Big Game thriller in OT
In one of the most dramatic installments of the annual Amador County Big Game in years, the visiting Mustangs were able to top rival Amador 27-21 in overtime on October 26 in Sutter Creek. In a game filled with emotional swings - and some controversy -Argonaut recovered an Amador fumble and turned it into a 5-yard touchdown reception by senior Corey Eckhart that tied the game at 21-21 late in regulation. Needing only to convert an extra-point attempt to take the lead, Argonaut’s potentially game-winning kick was ruled no good despite vehement protests from the Mustang sideline and the game went to overtime. Argonaut scored on its first possession of overtime on a short run by senior running back Mason Flores after a leaping catch by Eckhart put the Mustangs on the 1-yard line. But the extra point attempt was blocked by Amador, leaving the door open for the Buffaloes to grab the win. However, Argonaut’s defense came up big and held Amador on four straight plays to secure the win and keep possession of the coveted Bell Trophy. “It was a dog fight from start to end, but it ultimately came down to who wanted it more,” Flores said. “That’s where all our hard work and preparation showed when it really needed to.”
Calaveras varsity boys basketball pulls off a shocker at Sonora
In the biggest shocker of the MLL basketball season, Calaveras stunned defending league champion Sonora on the opening night of league play on January 8, when senior John Millsaps knocked down a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Leading by 2 in the final minute, Sonora ran the shot clock down before missing a 3-pointer that was rebounded by CHS senior Tyler Adams and outleted to sophomore point guard Connor Arnold. With less than 10 seconds to play in regulation, Arnold pushed the ball upcourt, drew a double-team and kicked the ball out to senior Tevin Azevedo in the corner, who quickly swung the ball to an open Millsaps on the wing for the game-winning shot as time expired, setting off a wild celebration on the Calaveras side. “Really proud of the way we played,” Calaveras coach Kraig Clifton said. “Tough, no quit attitude.” That loss would end up being the only loss in league play for the Wildcats, who successfully defended their MLL title and went on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship as well.
Time Bandits: Argonaut boys steal rivalry win at buzzer
It was a wild and controversial ending when the Amador varsity boys basketball team hosted rival Argonaut in front of a packed house in Sutter Creek on January 18. Trailing 47-35 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Mustangs stormed back with a furious rally that included the ejection of Amador coach Kaleb Cagle, pulling even with the Buffaloes late in the quarter. With the game tied 57-57 in the final minute, Argonaut got a key defensive stop and quickly moved up the court. With the final seconds ticking away, Argonaut senior Westleigh Kling, who was having an unusually off-shooting night, drove to his right and scored on a layup as time expired. After a brief discussion, the referees ruled that the ball was out of Kling’s hand just an instant before the final tenth of a second ticked off the clock and signaled that the shot was good, sending Argonaut players and fans rushing on to the court in celebration, while sinking heads on the Amador side. “I was so proud of our mental toughness, composure and perseverance,” Argonaut coach Jon Gilliam said.
Amador varsity softball gets payback on Argonaut
Just a few days after the Argonaut varsity softball team beat rival Amador for the first time since the 2016 season, the Buffaloes scored a measure of revenge. In a rematch on April 12 in Sutter Creek, Amador fell behind 3-0 in the first inning and trailed 5-3 heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, but rallied back with one run in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth, taking a 6-5 lead on an RBI by junior Mea Alleyn. Senior pitcher Katie Blankenheim and the Amador defense shut down the Mustangs in the top of the seventh to seal the win. Amador would go on to win the rivalry season series with a dominant victory over Argonaut a few weeks later as Alleyn continued to torment the Mustangs, smacking two doubles and two home runs in a 13-1 Amador win.
Calaveras softball rallies in final at-bat to beat Liberty Ranch and return to the section finals
Late on Thursday, May 23 at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton, the Calaveras varsity softball team’s chances of advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finals for a third straight season looked bleak. Calaveras, which jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first inning of an elimination game against Liberty Ranch, now trailed 10-7 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. But you don’t make back-to-back section title games and go unbeaten in MLL play by accident. With their backs against the wall, Calaveras hitters showed they weren’t ready to give up their chance at a section title, rallying to score four runs and win the game 11-10 on a two-out, two-run walk-off hit by sophomore Angelina Deleon, who had tied the game 7-7 one inning earlier with a two-run homer.