One of the lesser consequences of the coronavirus pandemic was its impact on high school sports.
Athletics were halted for a frustrating 15 months, then triumphantly returned. An entire prep season was jammed into four months and, while chaotic, there were memorable moments. Some of the more recent:
—The Aquinas High basketball team played talented Lakewood in the section quarterfinals and trailed by eight with 4:51 left. Falcon fans fretted. But then seniors Sheldon Grant and Nick Hopkins helped force overtime and Aquinas prevailed, 84-80.
That prompted a wild celebration on the Aquinas court. Grant was deluged by teammates and fans and rightly so after he scored 38 points.
“I was made for this moment,” he said.
—Ping. Ping. Ping. The hits rang out at the Yucaipa High baseball field against Vista Murrieta. Yucaipa scored 10 first inning runs on nine hits en route to a 15-4 win. But the best moment came six innings later after Jacob Reimer’s monstrous 400-foot home run to left field.
Reimer’s teammates in the dugout at first gave him the silent treatment, then deluged him.
“That was a moon shot,” Yucaipa’s Owen Egan said.
—Redlands East Valley’s Corey Ford was one of several runners vying for the lead in the final stretch of the 400 meters at the Citrus Belt League track and field championships.
But Ford leaned early at the finish and tumbled to the track to finish third. That’s when fifth-place Matteo Brey of Beaumont offered his hand and helped Ford up in a classy move.
“I leaned too far at the end,” Ford said. “My legs were tired, but I just went for it.”
—Beaumont High softball third baseman Irene Martin was a spark plug for the Citrus Belt League champions. She was everywhere in a 3-2 season-ending loss to Etiwanda — bunting to ignite a late rally for the Cougars, celebrating when she reached first base, and cheering wildly for teammate Jillian Vasquez when Vasquez hit a seventh-inning home run.
But Martin made one false move, running off the field after only the second out in the second inning.
“I thought there were three [outs],” Martin said.
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
—The Citrus Valley basketball team secured its 65-60 second-round win against Diamond Bar, setting off a raucous celebration in front of the Blackhawk bench. I was lucky enough to capture that with my camera and I had to feel sorry for the crestfallen Brahma player in the foreground.
—Two days later, Citrus Valley was back in its home gym taking on Palmdale Knight in the quarterfinals. It didn’t come easily but the Blackhawks prevailed 49-42. Afterward guard Nate Coppi stood in the middle of a loud locker room with his smartphone and took images of his celebrating teammates — another nice memento for Citrus Valley.
—Aquinas High’s Ethan Cheek was seemingly covered with half the dirt in San Bernardino after the Falcons’ 2-1 playoff baseball win against Chaffey. Cheek was active on the basepaths that game and his soiled uniform was proof. When mentioned it would be good if his mom had a large bottle of detergent at home, Cheek chuckled and said, “She’s used to it by now.”
Ten minutes in the penalty box for me for not mentioning this: The time of 9:25.01 of Redlands East Valley’s Liam Mapes in the 3,200 meters was a Citrus Belt League championship meet record. Nice going, Liam.
John Murphy may be reached at email@example.com