Driving the city. Highland. What’s going on out there? At a standstill. Not many good sports notes, though. No baseball at the Little League compounds. Fall high school sports are out. It’s a virtual zero summer.
Something’s still missing, though.
I’ve seen basketball players on various public courts. No one’s gotten run off, so something must be good.
Highland Community Center, over on Central.
San Andreas High School, on Pacific.
San Gorgonio High has some outdoor courts.
All those elementary schools ⎯ Cypress, Highland Pacific, you name it ⎯ have rims. Something was still missing.
There are some outdoor courts almost every few blocks. A park. A school. A church. You name it.
It was nagging at me, though. Something just wasn’t right.
I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not right away. Guys playing. Some teenagers. Mostly over-20. No masks. The ball was flying. With all the indoor stuff shut down, it had to push all the hoops outdoors.
What was it that was missing?
Suddenly, it hit me.
They weren’t spotted anywhere.
Yes, I know it’s a quarantine.
There’s an emergency pending.
Here’s another one: Girls weren’t playing.
I know damned well I’ll get hammered for this. Politically overcorrect. Whatever.
This area has lacked quality hoops teams ⎯ Highland. Parts of San Bernardino. Parts of Redlands and Mentone. Playground basketball has to get rolling.
It results in some pretty lazy results in local high schools.
Yes, we know. Way over in North San Bernardino sits Cajon High School.
Arroyo High sits west of the 215.
Those campuses can ball, girls’ style.
Travis Clark, in just one season of coaching, has shined some light at San Gorgonio.
Girls hoops, though, are at a virtual standstill around here. Right now, there’s no more than a tiny bit of recreation play.
Soccer is way out in front.
So is softball and volleyball.
That is, when there isn’t a quarantine.
Basketball, girls-style, is lagging. This is one of those sports you can practice alone ⎯ jump shots, moves, dribbling skills.
Timeout. Let me throw out a few names.
Marilynn Jacques: She was all-league in last year’s CBL. As a freshman. Yucaipa dominated. She’s a travel ball kid with lots of background. You’ve got to hope Citrus Valley can hire the right coach to blend her skills in with whatever roster can be assembled.
Too late: She’s transferred to Arrowhead Christian Academy on Tennessee Street in Redlands. Can’t wait to see how the Lady Eagles improve in 2020-21.
Leilana Battle: This Highland kid is headed right off Citrus Valley’s campus to Cal State San Bernardino to play basketball. She’ll be part of a badly needed rebuilding effort at Coussoulis Arena. For instance, three seniors are off a 3-21 Lady Coyotes’ season is evidence that repairs are needed.
Footnote on Jacques and Battle: They took part in a first for Citrus Valley’s campus. Last winter, the Lady Blackhawks won their first-ever CIF playoff game. For a school that’s nearly a dozen years old, it’s appalling.
Not the school’s fault. That’s bad hooping, folks. There’s a downturn of girls’ hoops in Redlands.
Girls in this area just aren’t balling.
If the girls were playing ⎯ outdoors, travel ball, training regularly ⎯ it’d be different outcome at its high school campuses.
Get out on those outdoor courts, girls.
Tatianna Russell: Over four years, she played varsity ball at San Gorgonio. Stud. Couldn’t ever navigate around those Arroyo Valley girls. Again, Russell was the insider looking out. No other real hoopsters to help. It’s sad. She connected at ⎯ where else? ⎯ Cal State. She’ll apparently be part of that rebuild.
That Russell was able to overcome this area’s bad basketball vibes to connect on a college roster is an A-plus move.
Most of Aquinas High’s playoff roster comes from outside this footprint. Nothing wrong with it. Aquinas is a first-class private school that caters to people who want to be there. Translation: Good students. Paying tuition. Campus provides good coaching.
Girls have got to pay their dues, same as the boys.
Get it on outdoors, ladies. Play three or four hours. Go grab a burrito. Come back. Fullcourt. Halfcourt. Shooting drills. Whatever.