College of the Sequoias has followed the same approach all season, working it to perfection in the Central Valley Conference women’s basketball race.
The Giants, ranked sixth in the state, already have clinched a tie for the title but can be outright champions and finish undefeated in the league.
Standing in the way is No. 14 Fresno City – the defending conference champion. COS (24-3, 11-0) and the Rams (23-7, 10-1) will meet at 5 p.m. Saturday in Visalia. Sequoias beat the Rams 83-75 on Jan. 25 in Fresno.
Giants coach Ray Alvarado, with at least a title share in hand, said he offered this to his team: “Simply talked about what is in our control and what isn’t. We talked about our culture, our principles, and staying with the process.
“I’m sure both teams will be ready,” Alvarado added of the upcoming rivalry game, “so should be fun.”
Rams coach Brian Tessler echoed Alvarado.
“I really do approach each game the same way,” he said. “I have always felt that when you place more importance on any one regular-season game, you have a tendency to have too many highs and lows throughout the season.”
Leading the way for the Giants is Idalis Rubalcava who’s averaging 11.3 points per game. The Rams have three other players averaging double figures: Heaven Holmes (14.8), Taylor Martin (11.2) and Julia LoCastro (10.4).
The Giants and Rams are locks to earn NorCal Regional playoff berths. Where each is seeded, Tessler said, will not change much regardless of Saturday’s outcome. The seedings meetings for women’s and men’s basketball are Monday.
“My emphasis has always been to place a tremendous importance on getting to the state tournament every year,” Tessler said. “Therefore, the goal is to be playing our best basketball come playoff time.” I’m not sure how much things will change if we were to win on Saturday. We might move up one spot in the seeding and COS might move down a spot.”
Rams men stand alone – Fresno City’s 101-64 win at Porterville on Wednesday, coupled with Merced’s 78-73 victory over Columbia, crowned the Rams as outright CVC men’s champs for a state-record 16th consecutive year.
The 12th-ranked Rams were led by Jordan Hollins-Buckner’s 24 points and seven rebounds. He hit all six of his 3-point attempts.
With one game to play at Sequoias on Saturday, the Rams have another goal: Ed Madec’s 400th win as a state JC head coach.
Madec is 316-57 at Fresno City and was 83-38 at Siskiyous.
When it comes to the conference title streak, Madec has 11, Vance Walberg four and Mark Mendez one.
The Rams (22-6, 11-2) and COS (12-15, 6-7) tip off at 3 p.m.