McCall, McClard, McDonald highlight Central Section picks on Cal-Hi Sports All-State girls basketball

Ridgeview’s Erica McCall, a 6-foot-3 center headed for Stanford, headlines Central Section representation on Cal-Hi Sports All-State girls basketball teams.

McCall made first team on Cal-Hi’s Elite 30 — the website’s feature team. She’s also the Division II Player of the Year.

Hanford senior Bayli McClard was named third team on Cal-Hi Sports All-State girls basketball Elite 30

Hanford’s Gonzaga-bound Bayli McClard made third team on the Elite 30, and Bullard’s Aarion McDonald made first team All-Freshman.

Here’s all Central Section players recognized:

Elite 30: Erica McCall, sr., Ridgeview, first team; Bayli McClard, sr., Hanford, third team.

All-Underclass: Brooke Johnson, jr., Hanford, third team.

All-Freshmen: Aarion McDonald, Bullard, first team; Celese West, Garces, first team.

All-Division I: McClard, Hanford, first team; Johnson, Hanford, second team; Emily Anderson, jr., Clovis West, second team.

All-Division II: McCall, Ridgeview, Player of the Year.

All-Division V: Olivia Sorensen, sr., Immanuel, second team.

Section girls hoops showdown Thursday night: Aarion McDonald (Bullard) vs. Brooke Johnson (Hanford)

Bullard freshman Aarion McDonald is pressing for state Freshman of the Year honors.

UPDATE: Aarion McDonald 42 for Bullard, Bayli McClard 39 for Hanford in Bullpups’ OT victory. Wow. Way Wow! …

And check the game’s photo gallery from Mark Crosse.

ORIGINAL POST: The best entertainment value in the Valley on Thursday night can be found in Hanford High’s gym for $6 (adults) or $4 (students).

It is here at 7 p.m. that the finest girls point guards in the Central Section will be matched in Bullard freshman Aarion McDonald and Hanford junior Brooke Johnson in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs.

The only negative to the showcase is that it isn’t in the D-I final March 1 at 6 p.m. in Selland Arena, affording greater exposure to neutral fans in the section.

McDonald, at 5-feet-3, is a sure state Freshman Player of the Year candidate. Extraordinarily quick and fearless at slicing through traffic while driving to the hoop, she’s averaging 25.1 points while accounting for 36% of the 21-5 team’s scoring. She’s also averaging about 6 rebounds, steals and assists.

Johnson, at 5-11, offers a distinctly different presence and role.

Hanford’s Brooke Johnson looks to pass past Redwood’s J.C. Chamalbide Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. The 2012 Bee All-Star is averaging 12.7 points, 5.6 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 6.0 steals. And she’s also an effective shotblocker.

Johnson’s a three-year starter for teams that have gone 78-17 overall and 36-0 in the West Yosemite League with three section titles — the past two in D-I after winning D-II in 2010.

Johnson took over managing the floor after Madison Parrish’s departure following the 2010 season.

There are two other interesting story lines in this game:

** Bullard coach Bill Engel was raised in Hanford before graduating from Roosevelt. He’s a popular guy in these parts and will have several Hanford friends in attendance.

** Hanford will arrive in a fury after being insulted by the section’s seeeding committee for the second straight year.

Last season, the Bullpups were seeded second behind Stockdale, so they merely blasted the Mustangs 65-49 for the D-I title at Selland.

This season, Hanford is seeded THIRD behind Stockdale and Clovis West. Coaches from sixth-seeded Bullard groaned upon learning the seeds, knowing that meant this quarterfinal journey into a gym that will be on fire.

Prep notes variety pack (football all-stars, section finals at Bulldog Stadium?, & hoops)

Clovis North coach Cory Hall reacts on the sideline during a game against Memorial at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis Thursday, September 29, 2011. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

A few thoughts as January turns to February on a spectacular 65-degree Friday:

** Bee football All-Stars that were published Friday:

– Yes, Clovis North’s Cory Hall was supposed to be listed among the Coach of the Year finalists¬†(he’s been added to the online story). He was actually a close runner-up to Mendota’s Beto Mejia. Quite impressive that both have won Central Section division titles in their first two seasons as prep head coaches.

– I also gave Clovis North’s Isaiah Duran long, serious consideration for Player of the Year before going with teammate and quarterback Christian Rossi. Duran flat got it done as a lineman on both sides of the ball.

** Housing all six section football finals over two days at Bulldog Stadium is gaining traction. The concept is the same in what has been an enormous success in basketball for eight years at Selland Arena. What’s making the football gig possible is Fresno State offering a huge discount rate. This will come down to Kern County schools accepting the idea, giving up potential home-field advantages — ala, Bakersfield at legendary Griffith Field. ¬†Keep in mind: The section’s CIF office has returned thousands of dollars to its schools as a result of the basketball financial windfall at Selland. Read more →