The Weed High School varsity girls basketball team put the finishing touches on a third consecutive league championship season Tuesday night, Feb. 17, 2015, and longtime boys coaches Mike Carpine and Bob Zalunardo received plaques of appreciation from athletic director Steve Neel, who announced they are both retiring at the end of the season.
Emotions ran high during Weed High School’s Senior Night Tuesday – and it went beyond recognizing senior athletes and their parents.
The varsity girls basketball team put the finishing touches on a third consecutive league championship season, and longtime boys coaches Mike Carpine and Bob Zalunardo received plaques of appreciation from athletic director Steve Neel, who announced they are both retiring at the end of the season.
Weed’s varsity boys team charged into the postseason with a decisive victory that Carpine said may or may not benefit them when the playoff seeding committee meets Saturday.
The Weed girls put their regular season-ending game away early and cruised to a 58-31 win over Modoc to secure sole possession of the Shasta Cascade League championship and a No. 2 seed for the playoffs.
Seniors Destinee Jones, Elyssa Fisher, Tia Palangvanh, McKenna Crabil, Taylor Harris, Paige Miller and Johanna Stensaas were recognized before the game.
They all played on the past two championship teams, and Jones, Fisher, Palangvanh and Crabil have been on all three.
The Weed girls went 11-1 in league and will take a 21-5 overall record into the playoffs.
Many words of thanks were heard for coach Bob West when principal Mike Matheson read the players’ Senior Night comments during pre-game introductions.
“He’s a great leader and coach, and he’s like a father. He looks out for us,” Palangvanh said later when asked about West.
“I wouldn’t be the ball player I am today without him,” Jones wrote in her Senior Night statement.
West said he was moved by all the nice things the girls said. He praised them for their willingness to work hard every day and “chase better,” which is one of the concepts he stresses. “They’re sponges. They accept constructive criticism so well. They’re so unselfish. They don’t care who scores. They do what it takes to win.”
AD Neel presented plaques to varsity boys head coach Carpine and JV boys head coach Zalunardo between the two varsity games. He said Carpine has been a Weed coach for 25 years and Zalunardo has coached Cougar teams for 19 years.
Neel expressed “utmost respect” for the two coaches and praised them “for all they’ve done and all the young men they’ve influenced.”
He introduced former player and current assistant coach Jake West, Carpine’s grandson, who was a league most valuable player during his Cougar career.
“I consider myself privileged to be coached by both these men, both on and off the court,” Jake said. “They’ve meant a lot to the school, the community and the program. They’re going to be missed.”
Carpine and Zalunardo are both Weed High School graduates and members of the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Neel said a permanent reminder of their contributions will be established in the hallway outside the gym.
Three seniors on the Cougar boys team were recognized with their parents before Tuesday night’s game, Rashaan Broomfield, Elijah Walker and Zach Garland.
The varsity boys team started fast, defeated Modoc 64-47, and finished the regular season 5-7 in league and 15-11 overall.
Carpine praised his players for their hustle and defense. He called it “a good win” and “a good way to end my career here at Weed.” His career will, however, continue in the postseason, and he hopes the Cougars will move up to a No. 7 seed for the section playoffs and earn a first round home game next Wednesday.
The Weed boys’ spot in the playoffs is contingent on what other teams do Friday night, including Etna.
Etna can finish above the Cougars in league if it defeats first place Mount Shasta Friday night in Etna. Should that happen, Carpine said the Cougars would get seeded below the Lions for the playoffs, even though Weed will finish higher on the playoff points list.
If Etna loses to Mount Shasta, the Lions will not make the playoffs because of a league rule that requires SCL teams to have at least a .500 record in league, in division games or overall to qualify for the postseason.
Also recognized Tuesday night in Weed were seniors on the ski and snowboard teams: Spenser Stenmark, Giordan Stenmark, Kaylee Anderson, Max Michelon, Andrew Matheson, Johanna Stensaas, and Brian Quigley. They have all qualified for the state championships, scheduled for March 2-5 at Mammoth.