Mari Stewart was the cornerstone of a storied senior class that turned Templeton High girls basketball from perennial losers into annual contenders.
The next step in her basketball career will be at a program in search of a similar reclamation. The 6-foot power forward officially signed on to play next year at West Virginia Wesleyan at a ceremony held Wednesday at Templeton High.
The Division II program in Buckhannon, W. Va., went just 2-25 last season, including a season-ending 22-game losing streak and a winless record in the Mountain East Conference that led to the firing of its coach.
“I’ve learned that every program has a story,” said Stewart, who was discovered by new head coach Michael Bari via her YouTube highlight reel. “They didn’t have the best coach, and that’s why they got a new coach. He wants to burn the old uniforms and start over.”
Stewart said she accepted the offer over interested Division I teams such as Vermont, Florida Atlantic and UC Irvine because she wanted to be able to play right away as a freshman.
Stewart said Bari, who is a West Virginia Wesleyan alum and spent the past nine years coaching at LSU-Eunice, took it even further.
“He told me ‘I want to build my program around you,’ ” said Stewart, who was this year’s Tribune County Player of the Year after averaging 21.7 points and 17.2 rebounds per game. “He wants to win, and I think I can help turn that program around.”
SWIMMING AND DIVING
Los Padres League finals
Amanda Wilson won two individual events and swam on the winning girls 400-yard freestyle relay, leading the Templeton girls to their league title.
Wilson won the 50 freestyle in 25.96 seconds and the 100 butterfly in 1:02.2 for the Eagles, who ended the meet with 459 points.
Templeton finished behind Cabrillo (502), but after going 6-0 in dual meets and combining the scores from Wednesday’s meet, the Eagles finished atop LPL.
The league title is determined by a combination of dual results and the final meet.
Wilson was joined in the 400 freestyle relay (3:54.37) by Marina Wesner, Sheridan Lee and Ande Miller. The Eagles also won the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:47.45. Ande Miller, Megan Miller, Lee and Teegan Primble swam in that race. Ande Miller won the 200 freestyle in 2:03.17, and Lee won the 500 freestyle in 5:38.09.
Morro Bay followed Templeton, coming in third with 318 points and it won the girls 200 medley relay in a school-record time of 1:56.97.
Alissa Marvin was part of the record-breaking relay and also won the girls 200 individual medley (2:18.79) and the 100 breaststroke (1:10.71).
Nipomo finished in fifth place with 148 points.
Cabrillo won the boys title with 437 points, and Nipomo came in second with 427.5.
Austin Simpson won the boys 200 IM in 2:05.9 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.35 for the Titans.
Morro Bay came in third place with 404 points and won all three relays, breaking school records in each one.
Travis Chirman won the 500 freestyle (5:13.57) and the 100 backstroke (57.50).
The Templeton boys team finished in sixth with 139 points.
Paso Robles 7, San Luis Obispo 2
The Bearcats clinched the PAC 7 title after scoring seven runs in a big fourth inning to beat the Tigers.
Kai Bedell had two hits for the Bearcats (19-5-2, 13-3-1 PAC 7), including one that drove in a run in the fourth.
Paul Andersen pitched five innings for Paso Robles, which was just 2-16 in league play last year, and Jonathan Baldwin threw two scoreless innings in relief.
Thomas Orradre led San Luis Obispo (4-19, 2-12 PAC 7), going 2 for 4, scoring once and hitting a double. Matt Mundorf drove in two runs for the Tigers.
Atascadero 5, St. Joseph 2
Four players doubled in the Greyhounds’ win over the Knights, which clinched the league title for Paso Robles.
Joe Johnson’s double drove in two runs, and Dylan Casebolt, Rueben Orozco and Holden Nix also doubled for Atascadero (6-17, 3-11 PAC 7).
Nix pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out seven.
Righetti 6, Arroyo Grande 5
The Warriors hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the Eagles.
Mikey Ross was 3 for 4 for Arroyo Grande (11-2, 7-7 PAC 7), scoring two runs and driving in two more.
Nash Ackerman doubled for the Eagles and had two RBI.
Mission Prep 4, Nipomo 3
Carson O’Connor scored twice and was 2 for 3 for the Royals, while pitching a complete game with three strikeouts.
Trevor Fernandez was 2 for 3 and drove in three runs for Mission Prep (4-17). SOFTBALL
Coast Union 5, Orcutt Academy 3
Ellie Magnuson and Ashley Martinez both were 2 for 3 for the Broncos.
Martinez hit a two-run triple and a single for Coast Union (9-4-1, 6-0 Coast Valley League), and Magnuson knocked in one run.
Kyle Mettier was 2 for 4 with an RBI triple for the Broncos.