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Ginty gets in on Madness

Sierra Scoop
By: Todd Mordhorst
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Devin Ginty couldn't think of a better way to spend his spring break. He'll be taking a road trip with some of his buddies, but he won't know their destination until this afternoon when the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed. Ginty and his University of San Diego basketball teammates are headed to the Big Dance after an improbable run at the West Coast Conference tournament last week. Playing on their home court at Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Toreros beat Pepperdine, stunned St. Mary's in the semifinals, and then beat Gonzaga in the championship game. They earned the WCC's automatic NCAA bid, while the 'Zags and the Gaels are left hoping for at-large bids today. The Colfax High graduate hit a pair of free throws to help bury St. Mary's in double overtime. He drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer as San Diego streaked past Gonzaga the next night. The contributions were much more than most expected from the walk-on true freshman. I've just really been enjoying every part of the experience, Ginty said Friday. I came down here just taking it one step at a time. There have definitely been some awesome moments. Ginty turned into a key reserve for first-year coach Bill Grier, who did not know who he was when he took over the Toreros' program last March. He proved himself in his first start of his college career, pouring in 18 points at Kentucky's famed Rupp Arena in San Diego's 81-72 victory. He's had to check all-WCC guard Brandon Johnson in practice, which has proved both humbling and inspirational. It's definitely not the easiest thing guarding him and (standout freshman) Trumaine Johnson in practice, Ginty said. But it's an advantage having Brandon because he makes everyone else step up their game and work harder every day. Ginty said reserve guard Danny Brown has been a close personal mentor throughout the year. He's a junior and he's been around a while, Ginty said. He always gives me little pointers, things the coaches don't tell us. But all the guys have been real good to me. No one knew who I was coming in here, but they see that I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team, so they've been very accepting. San Diego has embraced the Toreros in a similar fashion. The San Diego women also won the WCC tournament to earn an NCAA bid. It's been pretty fun, Ginty said. We had a rally the other day and I think most of San Diego is excited about it. The Toreros will gather around the TV today at 3 p.m. for the NCAA selection show to see where they'll spend the latter part of their spring break. Ginty is missing a chance to return to Alta to see his family, though his parents John and Maureen have seen several of his games this year. But he can't wait to take part in one of sports' most thrilling spectacles. The NCAA Tournament is probably one of the best events in America, he said. It's just a dream to be involved with it. ¦ Kasey Riecks and Madison Meade will get a chance to represent Placer High on the basketball court one last time later this month. The two senior standouts will play for the North squad in the Optimist All-Star Game on March 22. Riecks, who will play at UC Davis next year, and Meade, who has yet to make a college commitment, will be coached by Highlands' Sean Chambers. Tip-off for the Optimist All-Star game is at 4:30 p.m. at Center High School in Sacramento. ¦ Penryn native Becky Holliday gave pointers in the pole vault Saturday at Placer High, next to Stacy Dragila Track. She was also quick to give props to the track's namesake for all she's done for female vaulters all over the world. She's definitely a pioneer for us, Holliday said of the 2000 Olympic gold medallist. She definitely set the bar for us younger vaulters. She was where we want to be. I want to accomplish what she did, that's my dream. Holliday once had Olympic aspirations as a gymnast. She moved from Auburn to Reno to further pursue her gymnastics career, but a back injury forced her out of the sport at age 16. She found pole vaulting, earned a scholarship to Oregon and became an NCAA record holder in the event. She's still waiting for a major breakthrough in her professional career, which she hopes will come in June when she returns to Eugene, Ore. for the U.S. Olympic Trials. In the meantime, she's taking after Dragila in other ways ” sharing the sport she loves with youngsters, working relentlessly on her craft and making friends wherever she goes. She's so nice, Holliday said of Dragila. She's been really good to the younger vaulters. She's a great role model. Todd Mordhorst's column runs Sundays in the Auburn Journal.