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With 2018 coming to an end soon, it was a year that included success and heartbreak for several teams at Selma and Kingsburg high schools. With a new year upon us, it’s time to reflect on those accomplishments and heartbreaks from this past year.

Figueroa, Martinez make history, Selma girls win third-state title

VISALIA — It was a night to remember for Selma’s Gracie Figueroa and Alleida Martinez, who both made history by finishing their prep careers as undefeated four-time state wrestling champions at the Visalia Convention Center on Feb. 24.

Figueroa and Martinez were the first two female wrestlers to win four state titles with an undefeated high school record. The former Selma Bears also finished as the top nationally ranked wrestlers in their weight class.

Figueroa ended her senior campaign with a 9-0 decision over Corona’s Caitlin Cardenas in the 121-pound title match. Martinez finished her final high school school match by pinning Mt. Whitney’s Ashley Venegas in the 111-pound finals with a pin time of 1 minute and 56 seconds.

Currently, Figueroa and Martinez are currently in their freshman season competing for the Menlo College women’s wrestling team.

As a team, the Selma girls claimed their third-straight CIF State wrestling title and the Bears are the only squad to win three state titles in the tournament’s history.

Selma boys place 4th at state tourney

BAKERSFIELD - For the Selma boys wrestling team, the quest for a state title will continue in 2019, after falling short of the program’s first championship last year.

Selma placed fourth behind Poway, Gilroy, and Buchanan high schools at the CIF State tournament at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield on March 3.

For the Bears, eight of its wrestlers placed at the tourney, which was the most in the program’s history. Out of the eight placers, two were finalist, who were Richard Figueroa and Tony Mendoza.

Figueroa earned his first CIF State title as a freshman after defeating Clovis North’s Carlos Negrete in a 6-1 decision.

As for Mendoza, he lost to Peyton Omania in a 3-2 decision in his final high school match. Mendoza is currently wrestling for the North Iowa Area Community College Trojans.

Kingsburg girls soccer win back-to-back titles

KINGSBURG - For the second-straight year, the Kingsburg girls soccer team celebrated a Valley championship victory on its home field after defeating Foothill High School 1-0 in the CIF Central Section Division IV title game on Feb. 23.

It’s also the program’s second overall Valley title.

Marissa Montelongo was responsible for the lone score of the game, which occurred in the 19th minute.

As a team, the Vikings went 26-1-1 overall with an unblemished 10-0 Central Sequoia League record. The girls ended the 2017-18 season on a 19-game winning streak before losing in the CIF State Southern Regional playoffs. It was also the second-straight season Kingsburg went undefeated in league play and qualified for the state playoffs.

In the CIF State Southern Regional Division IV playoffs, the Vikings earned a No. 4 seed, but fell to the 5-seeded Westminster Lions in the quarterfinals.

Kingsburg lost 5-3 in a penalty kick shootout after both teams played through a sudden-death 15 minute overtime period with the game tied 1-1.

Despite the heartbreaking state playoffs loss, it was a great season for the Vikings, who outscored its opponents 100-9.

Selma basketball falls short in Selland after late rally

FRESNO - A late rally from Selma wouldn’t be enough to keep the Bears from losing 71-66 to the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers in the CIF Central Section Division II championship at Selland Arena on March 2.

In a game that the Panthers were leading 65-50 in the fourth quarter, Selma rallied back to cut its deficit to 69-66 with 11.4 seconds to play. A three-pointer from Selma’s William Pallesi made it a one possession game.

Pallesi’s three-pointer would be the final points Selma scored after San Joaquin Memorial standouts Dameane Douglas and Jalen Green extended their lead by each making a free-throw. Both were fouled in the final two possessions of the game.

Douglas, who currently plays at Loyola Marymount University, recorded a double-double with a game-high 31 points and 11 rebounds. Green, who is the nation’s top prospect in the 2020 class, scored 22 points with four rebounds and four assists against the Bears.

Pallesi, who is currently playing at UC San Diego, was Selma’s leading scorer with 19 points and Tiveon Stroud notched a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

After playing against Douglas and Green, the Bears traveled to Santa Monica to take on a Crossroads Roadrunners team that was led by Shareef O’Neal, son of NBA hall-of-famer Shaquille O’Neal, in the first round of the Division II state playoffs. Selma lost 84-57 to the Roadrunners in the opening state playoff game.

Despite the disappointing ending, it was an historic season for Selma nonetheless. The Bears won back-to-back league championships for the first time since the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons. Selma finished the season at 21-11 overall and 9-1 in CSL play.

Selma’s bats lead softball team to Valley championship at Fresno State

FRESNO - The Selma softball team had success playing at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond for the third-straight year after defeating Dinuba High 12-6 in the CIF Central Section Division III title game on May 26.

It was a battle between the two CSL squads in the first two innings with a combined score of 10 runs.

The Dinuba Emperors lead 6-4 through two innings, but Selma would eventually tie the game in the fifth inning.

The Bears would take over the game in the sixth inning by scoring four runs to go up 10-6 with RBI from Ashley Paz (bases-loaded walk), Moreno (RBI double) and Posada (sacrifice fly). A sacrifice fly from Paz and and RBI double from Genesis Rodriguez added to Selma’s lead in the seventh inning.

It was Selma’s third-straight Valley championship appearance, but it was the second consecutive time the girls came on top. It was also the Bears first title game since moving up from Division IV a year prior.

The Valley championship run ended a season where Selma was 16-9 overall and 7-3 in CSL play, which was good enough for a second place finish in league.

Selma volleyball falls short of program’s first Valley title

VISALIA - Selma volleyball’s pursuit of a Valley championship ended after the Bears fell to Washington Union 3-1 in the CIF Central Section Division V championship at the Porter Field House at College of the Sequoias on Nov. 3.

The set scores were 25-27, 22-25, 25-23, 18-25.

It was a matchup of two teams that were playing for its first Valley title in program history.

In the first set, the score had eight lead changes and seven ties. Selma had leads of 6-1 and 8-4 to begin the game. The Bears had two five point leads at 19-14 and 22-17 before the Washington Union Panthers rallied back to tie the set 22-22.

After a 25-25 tie, the Panthers scored twice to seal the 27-25 set victory in the first. In the second set, Selma rallied back for a 24-22 deficit after down 24-19. The Panthers eventually earned the match point to sealed another set win.

The third set featured three lead changes and Selma was on the brink of losing the game trailing 22-19. The Bears wouldn’t go away again, tying the score 23-23. Selma went ahead 24-23 and a kill by Gurleen Brar sealed a 25-23 victory to force a fourth set.

The fourth set would be the toughest for Selma, who trailed Washington Union throughout the entire set. The Panthers didn’t look back after a 7-1 start. The closest the Bears came within Washington Union was four points, which was a 15-11 lead for the Panthers.

After leads of 20-14 and 23-16, Washington Union eventually put Selma away, winning 25-18 to seal the 3-1 victory.

Selma’s regular season ended at 9-23 overall and 0-12 in CSL play, but the Bears upsetted many teams as the No. 14 seed enroute to the title game against the top-seeded Panthers. Selma upset No. 3, No. 6, and No. 2 seeds in that order and the Bears went 9-0 in sets played in the postseason.

After the Valley championship loss, Selma earned its first state playoff win in program history with a 3-0 win over No. 8 seeded La Puente. The Bears entered the CIF State Division V playoffs as the No. 9 seed.

But after the historic playoff win, Selma’s season ended with a 3-0 loss to the top-seeded El Camino Real Conquistadors in the second round.

Kingsburg girls polo repeats as Division III champions

FRESNO - In a rematch of the 2017 Valley title game, Kingsburg defeated Sierra Pacific 10-6 to win back-to-back CIF Central Section Division III championships at the Fresno State Aquatics Center on Nov. 10.

The top-seeded Vikings got goals from five different players including Shay Hanson, who scored a team-high three goals. Sofia Righetti, Jillian Gipson, Megan Buendia, and Jessica Burch-Konda were the other players to score for Kingsburg. Righetti, Gipson, and Buenda each twice while Burch-Konda had one goal.

The Vikings had a fast start including a 2-0 lead in the first 60 seconds of the game. The Sierra Pacific Golden Bears would tie it up, but Kingsburg would take over the game after a 3-2 lead to end the first quarter.

With goals from Gipson, Righetti, and Buendia, the Vikings led 7-3 at halftime.

Hanson scored two goals 44 seconds apart to start the third quarter with her third goal of the game giving Kingsburg its largest lead of the game at 9-3. The Golden Bears would cut it to five, but a goal by Buendia made it 10-4.

The Valley title game ended a successful season for the Vikings, who finished with an overall record of 21-9 and 6-2 in the CSL, which was good for second place.

Kingsburg was supposed to compete in the CIF NorCal girls water polo playoffs, but the postseason tournament got cancelled due to poor air quality from the impact of the fires in Northern California.

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

News Reporter

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