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REVIEW: Garces winter sports hit halfway mark in SWYL action

We’ve hit the midway part of the Southwest Yosemite League slate for the basketball and soccer teams at Garces Memorial.

Boys soccer

Still undefeated in league play, the Rams are gearing up for a push for an undefeated SWYL record. The Rams (15-2, 5-0 SWYL) have outscored league opponents 19-3, including a 6-1 win over Stockdale on Wednesday to complete the first half of league action. Alexander Halevy scored three of his team-high 22 goals over Stockdale, including two during a 20-minute stretch at the beginning of the second half when the Rams scored four times to pull away from the Mustangs.

Ebube Epekemogu is expected to be back at full strength before the playoffs begin. In his absence, Halevy (22 goals, 10 assists) and Moises Cisneros (16 goals, 15 assists) have been one of the top dual scoring threats in the Central Section this season.

Take away two games during Christmas Break where multiple starters were out, the Rams could very well be undefeated thanks to a heavy dose of offense and a stellar defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Palmer Bank.

If the Rams close out the SWYL schedule undefeated, it’s almost a lock the Rams would be the top seed in the section Division IV playoffs that begin the second week in February. 

Girls soccer

The Rams (5-7, 1-4 SWYL) nearly upset league leader Stockdale on Wednesday in a 2-1 defeat on the road against the Mustangs.

Gaby Guerrero scored on a free kick, but that was all Garces could get through the net. 

After beating Frontier 2-1 in overtime in the league opener at home on Jan. 8, Garces lost four consecutive games by two goals, including against Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial. 

If the Rams can find a way to make up those goals in the second half of the league slate, there could be a big shake up in the league race over the next few weeks before the D-II playoffs begin on Feb. 12.

Boys basketball

After a three-game losing streak that including three-point losses to Bakersfield and SJM, the Garces boys basketball team has found a groove. The Rams, thanks to a buzzer-beater 3-pointer by Joseph Campbell, beat Liberty 56-55 and then Jack Hatten scored 16 points to lead the Rams over Stockdale, 58-44, on Wednesday. 

The Rams (12-7, 3-2 SWYL) are in third place behind BHS (5-0) and Centennial (4-1) heading into the second half of league action.

J.J. Uphold leads Garces, averaging 12.points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Hatten and Ipreye Egbe also average double figures scoring for the Rams. 

Girls basketball

It’s been a tough go for the Garces girls basketball team this season, but the growth in the young squad shows each and every game. The Rams (1-15, 0-5) have been in each of the last four games in the first half, but depth and foul trouble have kept Garces from getting the first win in league play this season. Junior Addisyn McMurtrey has been a force offensively. McMurtrey scored 24 points in the 70-43 loss to Stockdale. McMurtrey is a candidate for first-team All-Area, averaging 18.9 points per game despite being double and triple-teamed nightly. Freshman Mia D’Amato is also averaging nearly a double-double with 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Wrestling

Freshman Tye Monteiro continues to rise up the ranks in the state in the 152-pound weight class. Monteiro, ranked No. 24 in the state by The California Wrestler, finished 5th at MidCals in Gilroy last weekend. Monteiro is also ranked No. 5 in the Central Section by Cal Grappler, and is the second-ranked freshman in the weight class. 

Juniors DeAndre Beldo (220 pounds) and Aiden Meek (heavyweight) also earned wins at MidCal.

That wrapped up the regular season tournament schedule for Garces. The Rams are in the SWYL championships on Jan. 30 at Frontier before a two-week break before the section divisional championships on Feb. 14-15 at North High.

Sarah Machado, the lone girls wrestler for Garces, continues to compete well at 189-pounds leading up to the section Masters championships Feb. 21-22 at East.

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