Volleyball – Under new head coach Jacey Porovich, Bret Harte volleyball finished in third place in the Mother Lode League behind Sonora and Calaveras. Bret Harte went into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs as the No. 17 seed and took on No. 16 Galt in the opening round. With their season on the line, the Bullfrogs upset the Warriors 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-11). In the second round, Bret Harte fell to No. 1 Ripon in three sets.
Although Bret Harte placed third in the Mother Lode League, it was the first league team to defeat the Sonora Wildcats in Sonora’s home gym. In a five-set classic, the Bullfrogs beat the Wildcats 3-2, in what was their signature victory of the season.
At the end of the season, Mikenna Grotto and Gabi Hutchens were placed on the Mother Lode League first-team, while Emma Lane and Katrina Swift made the second team. The Bullfrogs finished the season with an overall record of 12-16 and 7-8 in league play.
Boys’ water polo
The Bret Harte boys’ water polo team was just one game away from reaching the playoffs for the first time in the history of the program. Under first-year head coach Mike Kelly, Bret Harte went 3-3 in the Mother Lode League, but lost a tiebreaker against Amador in Angels Camp.
During the league season, Bret Harte picked up victories over Calaveras (14-4 and 17-5) and Amador (10-8). Bret Harte’s Jaden Bitner and Samuel Airola were selected to the Mother Lode League’s all-league team.
The fact that Bret Harte was able to produce a full wrestling squad is reason is, in itself, to celebrate. After the program was shut down because of a lack of wrestlers, not only did the Bullfrogs get bodies back, but there were enough to have enough to compete against each league team.
On Jan. 15, the Bullfrogs hosted their first league duel for the first time in nearly six years. Bret Harte eventually picked up a 44-18 home victory over Argonaut on Jan. 22. At the Mother Lode League tournament, Kodiak and Dakota Stephens placed first in their weight classes, while Alec Landry placed second, Alex Worth, Anthony Robles and Soren Jensvold finished third in their respective weight classes.
In the postseason, Bret Harte sent the Stephens brothers to the Masters Tournament following a strong showing at the Divisional Meet. Kodiak Stephens ended up advancing all the way to the state tournament, where he placed fourth overall in the 182-pound division.
Schultz has no problem finding the net, Dec. 6 at Denair
Bret Harte sophomore Kara Schultz is no stranger to scoring goals, but in an 11-0 road victory over Denair, she went above and beyond even her own expectations. With Bret Harte leading 4-0 in the first half, Schultz scored and then continued to score four more consecutive goals. Schultz finished the night with five goals and one assist in the shutout victory.
“She’s got a very level head and has a lot of wisdom when it comes to the sport in general,” Bret Harte head coach Jessica Bowman said following Schultz’s five-goal performance. “I’m all-around impressed with her and her strength, speed and commitment to the team.”
Miro goes off for 27 points, Dec. 28 vs. Waterford
With third place in the Big Valley Christian Holiday Classic on the line, Bret Harte junior Luka Miro did all he could to lead his team to victory as the Bullfrogs knocked off Waterford 43-33. Miro finished the game with a career-high 27 points, which included draining five shots from downtown. He was 6 for 7 from the free-throw line and had one rebound in the win. Miro was named to the all-tournament team.
“He got hot and he got open,” Bret Harte head coach Brian Barnett said after the game. “We adjusted our offense a little bit and that got him some open shots. It propelled us and gave us a little bit of confidence.”
Stephens dominates the postseason
There was no stopping Bret Harte junior wrestler Kodiak Stephens. After going perfect in the Mother Lode League and becoming a league champ, the 182-pound grappler set his sights on the postseason. At the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship, Stephens finished the two-day tournament 4-0 and all of his victories were via pin, with his quickest fall coming in just 12 seconds.
Following his strong performance at the divisional championship, Stephens then placed first at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet and was the first Bullfrog to do so since Dan Dougherty accomplished that back in 1976. In his second trip to the CIF State Championship in two years, Stephens went 6-2, which was good enough for a fourth-place finish.
“At the beginning of the year, I knew that I wanted to be top four, so I guess I accomplished that goal,” Stephens said. “I’m happy with the spot that I finished in, but I learned a long time ago to never be satisfied, so I’m looking to do a lot better next year.”
Bret Harte football vs. Summerville, Oct. 25
The Bullfrogs were seconds away from victory when disaster struck. With a 12-7 lead over Summerville and 34 seconds left on the clock, Bret Harte lined up to punt. A successful punt would have all but guaranteed a victory, however, the punt was blocked and returned for a Summerville touchdown. An added 2-point conversion was all that was needed to hand Bret Harte a 15-12 loss. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Scott scored two rushing touchdowns in the loss.
“I was really proud of the kids today,” Bret Harte head coach Kelly Osborn said. “I think they learned a lot about themselves and dug down deep and did everything they could to win that game.”
Bret Harte boys’ water polo vs. Amador, Oct. 30
With a trip to the playoffs on the line, Bret Harte met Amador in Angels Camp. Bret Harte lost the tiebreaker 7-3 which put an end to its season. The Bullfrogs never led in the game, but cut the deficit to 5-3 early in the fourth quarter. Bret Harte received goals from Samuel Airola, Noah Cardiel and Dominic Santella. Senior goalie Jaden Bitner recorded 11 saves in the loss.
“This is pretty much uncharted territory for Bret Harte, and I am enormously proud of these boys,” first-year head coach Mike Kelly said. “They fought all year. Many of them didn’t know what water polo was when we started this year. The fact that we got to the point to where we were in contention for the playoffs is an extraordinary accomplishment.”
Bret Harte boys’ basketball vs. Calaveras, Jan. 24
In three of the four quarters played, Bret Harte had the lead over rival Calaveras. However, it was the final quarter where the lead wasn’t in Bret Harte’s favor as the Bullfrogs lost 46-38 on their home court. Heading into the final eight minutes, Bret Harte led 36-31, but got outscored 15-2 the rest of the way. Luka Miro led the Bullfrogs with 11 points.
“That is the most distraught and mad team I’ve seen after a loss in my three years,” Bret Harte head coach Brian Barnett said.
Next week: We’ll look at Bret Harte’s top games, spring misses and future stars.