Newark Memorial knows how to win championships, and with most of last year’s team returning, the Cougars have the talent and the motivation to continue their dominance in the North Coast Section this season.
Impact players Joey Frenchwood (5-11 Sr.), Damien Banford (6-5 Sr.), Matthew Thomas (6-9 Sr.), Johnny Parker (6-2 Jr.) are all returning this season. These players all have great playoff experience and will look to use this to their advantage to put together another playoff run.
Newark finished last season with a record of 23-8 and 14-0 in the Mission Valley Athletic League. It won the NCS Division II title and lost to Archbishop Mitty in the first round of the CIF State Championships.
This year’s squad will be without its leading scorer from last year’s team, Jo Jo Zamora, but has found a replacement in senior transfer Mike Pickney. The 5-11 point guard previously played for St. Mary’s High School and will run the Cougar’s backcourt this season with fellow senior Joey Frenchwood.
Frenchwood racked up 304 total points last season and led the team in three-point field goals made. While offense is certainly a strength for the Cougars, the team prides itself on its defense, which Frenchwood deemed “one of the best in the state.”
“Our strength will definitely be our defense. Our team defense is great and our experience will get us the tough wins,” said Frenchwood. Last season Newark held opponents to an average 47 points per game, while averaging 61 points per game on offense.
The Cougars are led by Craig Ashmore, who is in his 23rd season as coach. Ashmore has consistently led his teams to success, and is one of the primary reasons why Newark has dominated the NCS for so many years.
Ashmore has led Newark to the CIF-State Championships five times out of the last six seasons, most notably losing in the state championship game in 2009. The Cougars have won 14 of the last 15 MVAL titles under Ashmore, and have won the last 11 titles consecutively.
“Coach Ashmore is a great coach and expects nothing but the full potential from each of his players. He preaches team defense which is why we are a very good team,” said Frenchwood.
Ranked the 18th best team in the state of California this season according to calhisports.com, the Cougars have high expectations in their pursuit of a 12th consecutive MVAL title and another deep playoff run.