Sierra Pacific Porterville girls basketball playoff

Haley Bettencourt works to guard a pass from Porterville High's Hailey Johnson in the first half of their game on Feb. 2, 2017.

Sentinel file photo

As the school year is about to start, athletes from Kings County are ready to get back in action.

During the 2016-17 school year, plenty of athletes made headlines for all the right reasons. That should be the case again in 2017-18.

Here is a quick look at some local athletes to keep an eye on as the school year goes on.

Mohammed Ali

School: Avenal. Sports: Cross country/boys soccer/track and field. Year: Senior.

Ali is a three-time state qualifier in cross country and one of the area’s best distance runners in track and field, routinely picking up wins in the 1,600 and 3,200. He’s helped the Buccaneers to Section titles in both cross country and track and field and will be a four-year varsity athlete in all three sports. As a junior, Ali was the Sentinel’s boys cross country Runner of the Year and is arguably the county’s best runner and soccer player.

Haley Bettencourt

School: Sierra Pacific. Sports: Volleyball/girls basketball. Year: Senior.

A first team All-East Sequoia League selection in basketball, Bettencourt was a key piece to the Golden Bears’ run to their first Central Section title in school history as well a run to the semifinals of the Southern California Division IV regional playoffs. The team went 29-5 with Bettencourt averaging a team-high 11.1 points along with 5.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Bettencourt also led the school’s volleyball team in assists (369).

Joseph Bonner

School: Hanford. Sports: Football/track and field. Year: Senior.

One of the top returning linemen in the Central Section, Bonner was a first team All-West Yosemite League selection in 2016 and is listed at 6-5 and 265 pounds. He’s also one of the Bullpups’ top track athletes and is a threat to make the state meet this year in the shot put.

Jack Foote

School: Lemoore. Sports: Football/baseball. Year: Senior.

Foote was a standout on both the football and baseball fields, picking up first team All-West Yosemite league honors in both sports. In football, he was one of the few bright spots during a 2-8 season at running back and defensive back. In baseball, he helped lead the Tigers’ offense, batting .333 with 31 hits, 33 runs scored, 14 doubles and 13 RBIs.

Desmond Howard

School: Hanford West. Sports: Football/boys basketball/track and field. Year: Junior.

The Hanford West leaper made noise as a freshman by being Kings County’s only athlete to advance to the state track and field meet in the long jump, finishing 23rd. The Sentinel’s 2017 boys track and field Athlete of the Year also plays football and boys basketball.

Jordyn Macias

School: Hanford West. Sport: Softball. Year: Senior.

Macias had a monster junior year for the Huskies, helping the team to a 22-7 record and the West Yosemite League title. Macias batted a team-high .530 with 44 hits, 38 RBIs, 11 home runs and 10 doubles against tough competition. Macias has already verbally committed to play at Boise State, following former Hanford West teammate Halle Harger to the Broncos.

Kate McClard

School: Hanford. Sport: Girls basketball. Year: Senior.

A three-time first team All-West Yosemite League selection, McClard is poised to have a big senior year after being the team’s second leading scorer behind the school’s all-time leading scorer. Last year, McClard averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. For her career, McClard has already surpassed 1,000 career points and has scholarship offers already, including from Fresno State.

Hanna Murrieta

School: Hanford. Sports: Girls soccer/softball. Year: Junior.

The Bullpups’ goalkeeper was the West Yosemite League’s Defensive Most Valuable Player and the Sentinel’s 2017 girls soccer Player of the Year, allowing just 0.986 goals per game in 18 matches. She averaged 5.7 saves per game as Hanford went 12-4-2 overall and 9-2 in the WYL. Murrieta also plays softball. This past year, Hanford was the No. 1 seed in the Div. III playoffs.

Ashley Pappilli

School: Corcoran. Sport: Girls tennis. Year: Senior.

As a junior, Pappilli helped lead the Panthers to the Central Section Div. IV team championship. On the year, she went a combined 36-3 in singles and doubles and 18-1 in singles winning the East Sequoia League individual title and advancing to the second round of the Central Area tournament. Pappilli was also the Sentinel’s 2016 girls tennis Player of the Year.

Roy Salinas

School: Corcoran. Sports: Boys basketball/baseball. Year: Senior.

A leg injury wiped out his junior year, but as a sophomore Salinas averaged a county-best 20.4 points per game and picked up first team All-East Sequoia League honors. Salinas also plays baseball for the Panthers.

Will Springer

School: Sierra Pacific. Sports: Football/baseball. Year: Junior.

In his first year of football, Springer helped the Golden Bears advance to the Central Section Div. VI title game. In his best sport, baseball, he was all-state and led Sierra Pacific to the Div. V Section title. In his sophomore year, he went 10-2 on the mound with an ERA of 1.17 in 84 innings with 120 strikeouts, 33 walks. He also batted a team-high .430 with 40 hits, 30 runs scored, 23 RBIs and seven doubles.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2431 or Follow him on twitter @jsbutters.

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