Hughson host playoff game Tuesday; boys, girls soccer teams also make postseason

First, the good news. The Hughson High girls basketball captured the school’s first Trans-Valley League championship since 1986 to earn a spot in this week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. The Huskies roared through the league season, splitting two games with co-champion Riverbank and dominating everyone else to finish 11-1.

Now, the bad news. Hughson’s best player – four-year starter and team captain – Olivia Fiveash sprained her left knee Jan. 26 against Hilmar and is out indefinitely. She definitely won’t play Tuesday night, when Hughson (21-6) hosts Sutter (14-14) in the first round of the playoffs.

“No matter what, we have to get through this week without her,” said Hughson coach Tim May said of his senior star, who averages 15.3 points, 3.8 steals and 2.5 steals per game.

With Fiveash sidelined, the other Hughson players have stepped up to fill the void. May praised two junior guards -- Yuliana Rocha and Kareena Kang – for their ability to bring the ball up the court and make 3-point shots. The Duron sisters – Jessie and Madi – have continued to play well, as has senior Alexandra Gehrke, who averages 7.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Hughson has won 15 of its past 16 games.

May was disappointed that Hughson was seeded behind Riverbank (23-3), which grabbed the No. 3 spot. The Huskies handed the Bruins two of their three losses while Riverbank’s only win against Hughson came two weeks ago when Fiveash watched from the bench.

“I don’t think there’s a science to it,” said May of the seeding process. “Right now, they’re rewarding Riverbank for smashing teams. That part’s a little frustrating. We played a tougher schedule and didn’t get any credit for it.”

Riverbank faces Waterford (20-8) in the first round Tuesday. The Wolves tied for second in the Southern League.

Hughson, meanwhile, will host 12th-seeded Sutter, which finished fifth in the Pioneer League. A victory Tuesday night means Hughson would face the winner of the game between No. 4 Marysville (24-4) and No. 13 Ripon (11-15) in the second round.

Unsurprisingly, May will be rooting for Ripon, which finished fourth in the TVL and lost twice to the Huskies.

“If Ripon can pull off an upset, we’d have a nice local game because they would come to us on Thursday,” he said.

Even with Fiveash out, May is confident the Huskies have what it takes to make a deep playoff run.

“The one that bodes well for us when we make the playoffs is that we are tough defensively,” he said. “Teams come in averaging 60 points and they score 34 or 35 against us. As long as we play our tough defense, I like our odds.”

The members of girls basketball team aren’t the only Hughson players who will be competing in the playoffs this week. Both the boys and girls soccer teams also made the Division V bracket.

The Hughson boys are 8-5-5 overall and 4-4-2 in the TVL after their 3-1 victory at Ripon on Thursday. The Huskies finished third in the TVL behind Livingston (16-2-5, 8-1-1) and Riverbank (14-7-4, 6-1-3). Hughson is seeded fifth in the Division V bracket and will play in Stockton against Venture Academy (20-1-1) on Tuesday. Should Hughson win, it will advance to the second round Thursday against the winner of the match between No. 1 Delhi (19-2-5) and No. 8 Encina Prep (9-7-4).

The Hughson girls (6-10-4 overall, 4-4-2) also finished in third place in the TVL behind Ripon (19-4-2, 10-0) and Hilmar (12-6-4, 4-3-3). Like the boys, the Huskies are seeded fifth in the Division V bracket and will play in Stockton against No. 4 Ben Holt Academy (14-4-2) on Monday. A victory would send Hughson into the second round Wednesday against the winner of the match between No. Colfax (22-1-1) and No. 8 Amador (6-10)