El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York

East County was well represented in the final showdown of CIF basketball. Mount Miguel High School, Spring Valley, and Christian High School, El Cajon, sent both their boys and girls teams to the championship games.

Mount Miguel’s girls (No. 2) brought home the Open Division championship with a gut-wrenching 50-49 win against Mission Hills (No. 4).

After a three-year legal battle and two decades of effort to build a high school for Alpine students, the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) and Alpine Union School District (AUSD), in conjunction with the Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability (ATBA), have dropped litigation. No high school will be built in the foreseeable future. 

The first story I ever covered for The East County Californian was a boys water polo game. It was a warm evening in September of 2015 and I had never been as far east as El Capitan High School where the game was being played.

I was born and raised in the South Bay. I took ballet lessons at the civic center in Chula Vista, went to church in Bonita, attended Southwestern College for both of my associate degrees. Whatever lay east of the I-25 was largely uncharted territory for me when the then-editor of The Cal, Albert Fulcher, asked me to help cover sports in East County.

At 3:30 a.m. one morning in October of 2007, Donna Perry woke up to a hundred foot wall of fire. In the flurried scramble to evacuate, the confounding question became: what to do with the horses.

After getting her own horses to safety, Perry said she and a few others went back to take care of her neighbors ponies who refused to be moved to safety.

The terrifying experience, followed by several long days at the Lakeside Rodeo where most local livestock are taken during fires, put into sharp focus the question of equine emergency response.

In January, the high hopes of El Capitan’s all-underclassmen varsity girls basketball team were only a glimmer on the horizon. The dream arrived sooner than expected.

Entirely staffed with freshmen and sophomores -- and one lone junior who is a foreign exchange student -- the Vaqueros tampered their expectations for the season. That was before they went undefeated in league, before they earned a place in semifinals.

The Grossmont Hills league is heating up as soccer sensations battle for end-of-season wins.

West Hills is currently leading the league 4-0-3, but head coach Robert Romero said it has been a close season.

“We’ve been hanging on by a thread,” he said. “I think our league is one of the more competitive ones. Each of our games have been very close.”

Bleachers shake from stomping feet. Gleeful shouts of painted fans overpower the squeaking of shoes on the glossy court. Shrill whistles and screaming buzzers join the symphony of enthusiasm in a delightfully packed gym. This is another Helix-Grossmont rivalry game. 

The Foothillers hosted the Highlanders on February 2, 2018 for their second face-off this basketball season. Helix (5-1) won, 60-52, making them 2-0 against Grossmont (3-3) this year. 

After six weeks of stiff preseason competition, league play can seem to fly by quickly. East County girls basketball teams are coming to the end of the first round of conference matches, a frustrating reality for some and an unbelievable milestone for others.

El Cajon Valley is starting a new season on the heels of a historic year for the school’s soccer program. The Braves took home the 2017 State title, a momentous victory for a school that tends to see very little in the way of athletic success, compared to its powerhouse neighbors. 

But if anyone expected the Braves to slide into another victorious season, they sorely mistook the nature of high school sports. Only five players from the title-winning team returned, and of those, only two are starting.

Every program goes through rebuilding seasons, but El Capitan girls basketball team is really starting from the foundations. 

The varsity squad has no seniors and no juniors. In fact, on the roster of about a dozen enthusiastic up-and-coming athletes, only three are even sophomores.

Head coach Darin Curtis said the makeup of the program is pretty unusual this year.