Coast Union’s student athletes certainly put their talent and tenacity on display throughout 2015, and while only five teams qualified for CIF playoffs — with two making it to the second round — there were plenty of bright Bronco moments to include in this New Year’s Eve sports page.
The boys basketball team captured the Coast Valley League (CVL) title with an 11-0 record before losing a first-round playoff game to Bishop Diego, 51-40. Exciting moments, included Gehrig Kniffen’s three-pointer from seven feet behind the arc with 45 seconds left to seal the 45-39 win against second-place Valley Christian on Jan. 30.
Kniffen and center Nahum Hernandez earned All-CVL first-team honors, and Jez Lawson and Jack MacKinnon made the All-CVL second team. Kniffen also received honorable mention on The Tribune’s All-County list of talent.
The Lady Broncos basketball squad placed second (9-2) in the CVL, and after a bye in the first round of the CIF playoffs, ran into a very tough Bloomington Christian team that eliminated Coast 80-19. The defeat was doubly brutal because Coast had to travel six hours each way to play the game. Outstanding players on the team included Crystal Nunez, who earned All-CVL first-team honors. Ashley Martinez and Reagan Kniffen earned a spot on the All-CVL second team, as well as honorable mentions on The Tribune’s All-County team.
Even though the boys compiled an 11-8-1 record, which head coach Luis Plasencia said was “pretty good for a young team,” the Broncos — who do not compete in the CVL — were not offered a playoff opportunity. Ricky Abitia was named MVP, Daniel Pena got the Coach’s Award, and Fidel Figueroa was named Most Improved Player.
The girls soccer team finished with a 9-6-2 record, and Patty Bucio received the MVP award; Remy Corbet was named Best Offensive Player; Pauline Torres was named Outstanding Player; Gigi Stoothoff got the Best Defensive Player award; and Martha Gomez, because she booted in 10 goals as a freshman, was given special recognition by head coach Tamara Corbet. In the 2015-16 season so far, sophomore Gomez leads the team in goals.
2015 was a very good year for Coast Union softball, which featured strong pitching performances by Ellie Magnuson and by freshman Ani Corbet (each tossed a no-hitter during the regular season). This team was blazing hot after seven games, racking up 127 runs against just 4 runs scored by its CVL opponents.
After going 9-0 in the CVL and winning the title, Coast topped Santa Clarita Christian in the CIF playoff opener, 8-1, at home. Remy Corbett and sister Ani Corbet each drove in two runs, and Maddie May plated three runs. Magnuson and Ani Corbet shared pitching duties in the win. The two pitchers also shared chores in their second-round game against Santa Clara in Oxnard, which went extra innings and ended in a 7-6 Coast loss.
Magnuson won Coast Union’s MVP award and was the CVL’s MVP as well (she struck out 92 in 84 2/3 innings and hit .519); Patty Bucio and Ani Corbet made the All-CVL first team; Bucio was Best Offensive Player for Coast and Ani Corbet got the Coach’s Award; May, Ashley Martinez, and Remy Corbet were named to the All-CVL second team; Janelle Bohey received the league’s honorable mention. Magnuson was named to the All-SLO County second team, and Bucio and Martinez made All-SLO County honorable mention.
After breezing through the CVL with a 10-0 record — and having won 32 consecutive games against league rivals — the Broncos’ season ended abruptly against Trinity Classical Academy. Coast lost a tough one 3-2, but nothing can take away the great season enjoyed by Gehrig Kniffen (.440, 15 RBI, 16 steals), Lane Sutherland (.404, 10 RBI, 16 steals), and pitchers Jake McAvoy (5-2, 1.70 ERA, 50 strikeouts) and freshman Chase Volz (4-3, 5.20 ERA, 34 strikeouts).
McAvoy was chosen MVP of the CVL and of the Broncos; head coach Brian Machado was honored as Coach of the Year in the CVL; Kniffen, Sutherland, and Tommy Moreno were selected on the All-CVL first team; Kniffen was named Outstanding Hitter and Moreno was named Outstanding Defensive Player for Coast Union; and Alan Mendez was given the Coach’s Award. Kniffen was named to the All-SLO County second team, and McAvoy made All-SLO County honorable mention.
The Broncos were only 2-13 on the season, but their top seed, Alexis Mireles, won 33 of his 38 singles matches. Hence, he received a rare Bronco invitation to the CIF playoffs. In boys tennis CIF competition, there are no levels of competition — smaller schools against other smaller schools, for example. So Mireles went up against Max Prestwich of Nordhoff High School (900 students), and was defeated 6-1, 6-0. “The match was a lot closer than the score suggests,” Mireles reported. Nearly every game “went to deuce,” but Mireles’ goal for 2016 is to “surpass” the level of play at CIF last year.
After losing all their matches in 2014, and after losing their first 10 matches in 2015, something clicked with head coach Ron Ruggles’ team, which won its last four matches, all against formidable opponents from bigger schools.
First, the Broncos defeated Santa Maria 14-4 on Oct. 14; they beat Nipomo on Oct. 19; they topped Laguna Blanca 10-8 on Oct. 22; and they beat Templeton 10-8 on Oct. 27. Ruggles said the late winning streak was “incredible,” and “it’s not for me, it’s for the kids. They work so hard … I’m so proud of them.” Ruggles gave the MVP to Maddie May; Ani Corbet won the Coach’s Award, and Savannah Lyon was chosen as Most Improved Player.
Paul Butterfield consistently led the Broncos in meets this past season. The team scored an impressive win against Mission Prep and Atascadero on Oct. 3. Another highlight for the team was placing second (in the boys division) in the Cal Poly Invitational meet Oct. 17. Butterfield placed fourth overall, and Bella Raethke finished first among Coast runners; Raethke also made the All-County freshman team in the county’s championships Oct. 31.
The girls did not qualify for the win in Division 5 because of illnesses; but still, with all runners healthy, Coast could have won the Division 5 event. Butterfield won Coast’s MVP; Nic Roper and Iveth De Jesus received Coach’s Awards.
After being shellacked in their first four games against nonleague opponents and losing a close one (20-14) to Riverdale Christian Academy, the Broncos won three straight CVL games and were in a position to win the CVL and be granted a CIF playoff game. The second win in that streak was the most dramatic victory for the Broncos, as Roberto Quintero kicked the only field goal of the season. It wasn’t just a field goal — it was last-minute, 37-yard game-saving boot that cleared the crossbar by inches.
Coast won its third game (Maricopa) but in the Broncos’ fourth CVL tilt, they ran into a better team from Cuyama Valley, losing 64-42 in their Homecoming game. CVL awards for defense were given to: Jimmy Welch and Lane Sutherland (first team); Roberto Quintero, Asher Armstrong and Jack Mackinnon (second team); and Will Azevedo (honorable mention). CVL awards for offense: Alam Ramirez and Octavio Villalvazo (first team), Jack MacKinnon, Asher Armstrong and Warren Smith (second team); and Alexis Mireles (honorable mention). Head coach Thom Holt gave Villalvazo the Coach’s Award; Ramirez got MVP on offense; Sutherland was Defensive MVP; and Riley Kennedy was named Most Improved Player.
True to their recent history, the Lady Broncos cleaned house in the CVL, going 10-0 and landing a bye in the first round of the CIF Division 5AA playoffs. In the second round against Calvary Murietta, Coast coasted through the first game but fell behind by nine points in the second game before head coach Pam Kenyon called timeout and reminded her team that failure was not an option. The team went on to win the second and third games to triumph, but the win meant the team had to travel to Wildomar to play very tough California Lutheran, and bowed, 3-0.
CVL awards in the volleyball program: Xue DiMaggio got MVP; Janelle Bohey and Gigi Stoothoff All-CVL first team; Reagan Kniffen, All-CVL second team; and Diana Cisneros was given honorable mention. Bohey was awarded the Coast Union MVP; the Coach’s Award went to DiMaggio; and the Most Improved award went to Cisneros.
This report was special to The Cambrian.