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February 4, 2023
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‘Cats roundup: Los Gatos wrestlers shine in Doc B., basketball teams have early league showdown with Paly

The Doc Buchanan Invitational is widely considered one of the top-5 high school wrestling tournaments in the nation. 

Athletes from across the country make their way to the Central Valley every January to compete in elite fields and see where they currently stack among the best. Los Gatos High continued to show why it is ranked No. 8 in California as three of its wrestlers—EJ Parco, Antonio Rodriguez and Dylan Pile—placed in the prestigious event at Clovis High Jan. 6-7. 

Top-seed Parco won the 148-pound division, Rodriguez took second at 116 pounds and Pile finished eighth at 155 pounds. A junior who is ranked No. 2 in the state, Parco delivered powerful performances that saw him beat Ryan Ford in the semifinals 5-4 and Beau Priest 5-0 in the title match. 

Ford is a highly-touted wrestler out of Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, and Parco’s dominant win in the final came against Bakersfield’s Priest, who is ranked No. 6 in the state. Rodriguez also had a tremendous tournament, falling in a showdown with Gilroy’s Moses Mendoza, 7-4, in the final.  

Rodriguez was the No. 6 seed and was dominant in his first three matches, winning by decision scores of 10-1, 7-0 and 12-6, respectively. The freshman sensation followed that up with a decisive 12-6 win over Ane’e Vigil of Colorado in the quarterfinals and a 3-0 win over Dedrick Navarro of Nampa, Idaho in the semifinals. 

Navarro wound up placing sixth and Vigil seventh. Rodriguez then lost to Mendoza in the final, though he had nothing to hang his head about with that result as Mendoza is No. 2 in the state at 113 pounds and Rodriguez is No. 4. 

Pile is No. 7 in the state at 152 pounds and won his first three matches before running into top-seed Beau Mantanona of Palm Desert in the quarterfinals, falling 10-0 by major decision. Mantanona is a University of Michigan-commit, ranked No. 1 in the state and a heavy favorite to win the CIF State Championships this season. 

Pile then won his elimination match 6-1 over Andrew Crowther of Layton, Utah, before losing his next contest 6-2 to Laird Root of Poway, who is ranked No. 3 in the state. Los Gatos placed 11th in the team rankings with 70.5 points, a virtual tie with 10th-place Granite Hills of El Cajon, which finished with 71 points. 

BASKETBALL

The Los Gatos girls and boys teams both won their respective SCVAL De Anza Division openers in convincing fashion. 

The girls earned their best result of the season, 66-53 over an always dangerous Homestead squad on Jan. 3. They did it in comeback fashion, falling behind 20-10 after the first quarter before roaring back and outscoring Homestead 16-6 in the second and 19-11 in the third to take command. 

Nicole Steiner had another monster game, finishing with a game-high 35 points and 26 rebounds. In a remarkable display of efficiency, Steiner’s 35 points came on 14-of-17 shooting or 82% from the field. She also grabbed double-digit offensive rebounds (10) and went 7-of-9 from the free throw line. 

Seven other players scored for the Wildcats (8-3), including Ella Rabitz who finished with eight points. Casey Brennan always sees the floor well and delivered some solid passes in finishing with seven assists. 

Meanwhile, the Los Gatos boys cruised to a 63-27 win over Cupertino High on Jan. 7, improving their record to 9-4 overall. The Wildcats got out to a 10-2 lead after the first quarter and increased the advantage to 25-9 at halftime, effectively putting the game away with suffocating defense. 

Coach Nick Ward was able to play his entire 16-man roster in the blowout victory. Victor Josifovski had a team-high 10 points, Max Houghton nine and Scotty Brennan and Shaun Jafri had eight points each.

Both teams play Palo Alto at Saratoga High in a doubleheader Wednesday, the girls tipping off at 6pm and the boys at 7:30 in key early league season contests.  

The Los Gatos boys basketball team plan on taking charges and playing tough the rest of this season. File photo.

Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected]

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