BCHS Sports Wrap-Up
Writer Tom Scanlon
Photographer Pogue Photography
Asked about personal goals, some basketball stars might say “score 25 points a game” or “hit the winning shot as time expires in the state championship.”
Sam Young’s goal for her senior season?
“I want to be a good leader,” answers Young, the center of attention for the Boulder Creek High School girls’ basketball team. She is doing just that, and she also has a nice touch on her shots, plays intimidating defense and runs the floor well.
Oh, and she’s 6 feet, 3 inches tall. And she’s headed to California State University Northridge on a full scholarship.
Sam Young is literally the biggest thing to hit the Boulder Creek High girls’ basketball team. She is a major reason the team went 23-7 last year, setting a school record for wins, scoring the first post-season win in the program’s history and qualifying for the state playoffs.
This year, Young led the team to an 18-9 record in the regular season. “We’ve been coming together as a team,” Young said, after a late-season win. “We trust each other – we’re like sisters. We did a lot of bonding this summer.”
Young’s family moved from Oregon to Anthem when she was a freshman, and she started playing for Boulder Creek as a sophomore. She credits Coach Josiah McDaniel, new to the school last season, for the program’s success.
The coach has high praise for his tall, modest star.
“She has been easily one of the most improved players in the state,” McDaniel said. “She is now a dominant force in games and does a tremendous amount for our team on and off the court. She was elected by her teammates and coaches to be our team captain this season, and has shown growth in her leadership abilities.”
Young is the team’s leader statistically, averaging 13.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and an eye-popping 3 blocked shots per game.
Yet this is hardly a one-woman show. Coach McDaniel assesses his team:
“Junior Kali Morris has really improved since last season and has made big contributions to our team. Delaney Swader, a senior, has been excellent for us in the second half of the season. Freshman Haley Villegas has had some very nice games for us. Of course, sophomore Darian Slaga is a returning All-Section player and is a dynamic player for us. Hannah Nielsen, a junior, has been a hustle player for us who does a lot of good things for our team.”
The center of it all, again literally, is Sam Young. “I was always kind of tall,” she told an interviewer after leading her team to a 66-40 win over Deer Valley; at times during the game, Young looked like a grown woman towering over little girls. “My fifth grade teacher said, ‘Hey, Sam, why don’t you go out for basketball?’”
She was quickly hooked by the sport, which has become a ticket to college for this bright student (“all A’s and B’s”).
She was hoping to end her high school career in a big way. “I’d love to make the state playoffs,” she said. What would she personally have to do, to help her team get there? “I need to be the best leader, and a big threat down low.”
Like many other tall centers, Young can get lost in the flow at times. She is at her best when she establishes position against smaller defenders and demands the ball from her teammates. Again, it’s all about setting the mood.
“I’m just trying to lead the team,” she says, with a smile. “I want the girls to look up to me.”
That they do, that they do . . . .
Young’s team lost to powerhouse Mountain Pointe, 61-58, in the playoff opener. The Boulder Creek girls would have at least one more game in the post-season.
The Boulder Creek High girls’ soccer team finished the season with a glittering 17-1-2 record, then crushed Willow Canyon, 7-0, in the first playoff game. Sophomores Shelby Stewart and Natalie Stephens each scored two goals, as did freshman Madi Rasimas. Budding superstar Kyle Escobedo added one goal, and junior goalkeeper Meghan Strang turned back nine shots for another shutout.
The brilliant season came to a sudden end with a 4-1 loss to powerful Highland. The score was 2-1 when a big pileup in front of the Boulder Creek net resulted in a goal. Strang protested that the ball didn’t cross the line, and was given a red card. Down a player, the Lady Jaguars failed to make a comeback.
Most of first-year coach Natalie Schmidtke’s team will be back next season, so there is great hope for this soccer program.
“The team was indeed disappointed after their loss against Highland but we are focusing on the positive, which is that we broke every single record for girls’ soccer at BCHS,” Schmidtke said. “It would have been nice to get a little deeper into the playoffs but we had a great season overall and many of the club players have already returned to their teams and are continuing to play. We only have three starters graduating this year, which means that we will be able to have a very talented group of girls to field next year, if everyone decides to return.
“We are always looking to improve and go further and are looking forward to next season.”
Several Boulder Creek High wrestlers also have had outstanding seasons: Cory Crooks, Kyle Fantin, Matt Kautzman, Adam Garcia, Jordan Erickson, Jeffery Hicks and Nathan Eldridge all qualified for the state tournament in Prescott.
Then there is Jro (pronounced “Jay-row”) Byrd, a junior who stampeded his early-round competition in the 170-pound class on the way to the state finals. Byrd qualified for the state tournament last year, but a “coach’s decision” kept him out of the competition.
This year has been a reversal for Byrd, according to Doug Crooks, coach of the Boulder Creek wrestlers.
“He changed dramatically,” Crooks said, from Prescott. “Halfway through the year, Jro was promoted to team captain. His work ethic has improved tremendously, his attitude has improved tremendously. He was promoted because he was doing the right thing.”
On the mat, Byrd has impressed with his poise and skills. “He’s good everywhere,” Crooks said. “I would say his biggest attribute as a wrestler is he’s very calm, relaxed and patient on the wrestling mat. He wrestles like someone who is much older than he is.
“If a kid makes a mistake on the mat, he takes full advantage of it,” Crooks added. Byrd plans to wrestle and play football in his senior year. “As a wrestling coach, you want to lean him toward wrestling because I think he has a future in that.”
Byrd will be looking for that elusive state championship as a senior. This year, he lost in the finals, 7-1, to Trey Ronayne of Queen Creek. It was Byrd’s first loss of the year, after 47 wins. As a team, Boulder Creek finished twelfth in the state.
BCHS Boys’ Basketball
The boys’ basketball team finished 11-14 in the regular season. Senior Ray Vivola led the team with 17.5 points per game. Seniors Johnny Panfil and Marcus Jarrett also averaged double-digits in scoring.