Bret Harte captured the CIF Division V title with a dominating performance.
Scott Giorgianni/Prep2Prep

Bret Harte captures CIF title with dominating performance

March 12, 2023

SACRAMENTO. – Every May, the small town of Angels Camp holds the Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee. This spring, the town will have something else to celebrate: a state championship. Bret Harte put a bow on an outstanding season with a 62-39 wire-to-wire victory over Marina (Huntington Beach) in the CIF Division V Finals.

“The frogs will be jumping in Calaveras County,” Bret Harte coach Jeff Eltringham said with a smile.

Ariah Fox, a lengthy senior and the team’s leading scorer, compiled 22 points, 15 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and two blocks for Bret Harte (26-7). Makenna Tutthill added 10 points while Chase Silva chipped in nine points and seven rebounds and Kadyn Rolleri tallied six points, six boards, and four assists.

“I’ve been playing sports with these ladies, most of them since middle school or even elementary school, and it’s just kinda end of that era for basketball at least,” a tearful Fox said. “They’re happy tears - now we’re just going to stop playing together, so it’s kinda sad.”

The Bullfrogs raced out to a 12-1 lead. Marina (21-16) got their first point halfway through the first quarter and landed its first field goal with 3:16 remaining. The Vikings made a push in the second quarter, closing to within six at the 3:38 mark, but Bret Harte quickly got it back up to 10, led 32-20 at halftime, and never again saw its lead dwindle to a single digit.

The Bullfrogs didn’t shoot the lights out but didn’t need to as they out-rebounded their opponent 47-30, had assists on 14 of their 23 field goals, and doubled Marina in the paint, 32-16. They were well represented by the community which sits at the edge of the Stanislaus Forest less than two hours southeast of the capital city.

“Our school is pretty small as it is, but just the fact that we had so many people from our community - it just means a lot,” Rolleri said.

When asked about a specific chant the hometown crowd does that mimics a frog, Tutthill responded: “You hear them, and they help you drive to get that win.”

“It sounds like home,” CJ Desbouillons added.

Freshman Rylee Bradley led Marina with a game-high 23 points, while senior Tiana To chipped in 10. On the path to Sacramento, Marina toppled No. 1 Gahr, the team which beat them in the San Joaquin Section Division 5 final, and punched a ticket to the state final by downing San Pedro in the Regional Championship. All of this came after a tough 2021-22 campaign which saw the Vikings win just six games in 26 contests.

“We had our back against the wall multiple times,” Marina coach Danny Roussel said. “Even in our Regional Final game I think we were out-rebounded by about the same margin. But in that game, our defense was able to get more stops, create more turnovers than we did today, and unfortunately they handled our pressure well.”

Roussel stated that the team had three goals: to win the first tournament, to beat Huntington Beach, and to make the playoffs. “All season long we really focused on little small goals, those little steps but they ended up being big steps for us,” he said.

Both teams appeared in the State Final for the first time. Bret Harte was not a stranger to Golden One, however, as they faced Valley Christian-Roseville, a one seed against a two, in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game on the same court. This time, a happier ending had Fox in tears and first-year coach Eltringham, who graduated from Bret Harte, beaming.

It was a full-circle moment for the coach, as he attended Bret Harte and as a youth played with the school’s Athletic Director.

“I bleed purple and gold,” he said. “It’s a little bit different when you’re from there…and then get to pull something like this off for the community. I’ve been joking on the bench, I hope the town don’t burn down, this is pretty special for our town, we don’t do stuff like this very often.”

Roussel is a three-time cancer survivor, and when asked what keeps him coming back simply stated: “I love the game of basketball, I love what it teaches these young ladies. Watching these girls bond with each other - it’s why I do what I do.”

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