High School Basketball

Plenty of support on the way for Caruthers at state championship girls basketball game

Caruthers High girls basketball coach Anna Almeida guides her team in its CIF Central Section Division V championship game, a 71-39 win over Coalinga High.
Caruthers High girls basketball coach Anna Almeida guides her team in its CIF Central Section Division V championship game, a 71-39 win over Coalinga High. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Caruthers High girls basketball coach Anna Almeida has her speech lined up for Friday morning.

And it’s an important one.

The Blue Raiders (31-4) will face Ramona-Riverside (23-12) for the state Division V championship at the Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Tipoff is set for 10 a.m. Friday, the first of 12 games over two days at Golden 1. All state championship games are scheduled to be shown on NBC Sports California (Friday) and NBC Sports Bay Area (Saturday).

Almeida said she’ll tell her team, “This is what you worked hard for. Our seniors, we always talked about about this and now you’re here, this is exactly what you wanted. We just need to make sure to go out there and give it everything we have inside of us from No. 1 player to No. 15.”

‘Blue Crew’ rolling

Caruthers advanced by beating Northern California top seed St. Bernard’s 52-44 in Eureka. The “Blue Crew” reportedly numbered around 70 Tuesday night at St. Bernard’s including Randall Patrick, Caruthers High Class of 1957, a Eureka resident who wore his varsity sweater to show his support.

Now, Caruthers prepares for a caravan to Sacramento. The high school announced Wednesday that 260 students had taken advantage of its offer to pay for the trip to Sacramento for any student who got permission from a parent/guardian. The school is sending its contingent in charter buses.

“It’s amazing the support that our school gives us,” Almedia said. “Our administration and the community. They’re excited, and not just for this journey, but for any journey that the students at our school gets a chance to endure. Our community and administration are there cheering them on and trying to make it the best possible experience they can have.”

The Blue Raiders’ road to the state championship began with a Central Section D-V championship, their third in five years, earning a No. 3 seed in NorCal. They beat No. 14 Woodland Christian 60-25, No. 6 Mariposa County 52-40 and No. 10 Gridley (50-37) before knocking off St. Bernard’s.

After Tuesday’s victory, Caruthers stayed overnight in Eureka before going on a five-hour trip to Sacramento on Wednesday morning instead of driving back home. The team practiced Wednesday and Thursday at Woodland Christian thanks to an offer from that school’s athletic director, Jerry Miller.

Despite being away from campus, It was still school time for the team with study hall. There was also fun time such as swimming, movie night, board games and taking a tour around Sacramento.

“They understand they never know when this is going to happen again,” Almeida said. “Just live in the moment ... and really enjoy the experience when we get there.”

Immanuel boys play Saturday

The Immanuel boys team will be playing for the first state championship in school history.

The Eagles are coming off a 60-48 victory over Wood-Vacaville to win the NorCal Regional D-IV championship.

Next up, Immanuel (26-8) plays Ribet-Los Angeles (26-3) at noon Saturday at Golden 1. Ribet defeated Silverado-Victorville 84-64 in the SoCal Regional Final.

Immanuel hosted four regional playoff games because of timely upsets in the NorCal bracket.


State championship games will be telecast on NBC Sports California Friday and NBC Sports Bay Area Saturday. Check your cable provider for the channel.

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.