Empire notes: Classy move by opposing team

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File this one under classy. In the middle of an important, for-first-place North Central League I girls basketball game, Cloverdale High senior Tehya Bird scored her 2,000th career point. The game was stopped briefly so she could be handed the game ball and be appropriately mobbed by her teammates. But what else? The visiting Middletown Mustangs brought Bird a gift and coach Andrew Brown and every one of his players crossed the floor to shake hands and congratulate Bird.

Kiech reaches hoops milestone

Speaking of career points milestones, Sonoma State senior Kylie Kiech scored the 1,000th point of her college basketball career Saturday in the Seawolves’ 77-66 overtime win over the visiting San Francisco State Gators. Kiech, a Cardinal Newman grad, is the sixth woman to reach the milestone in program history. She came into the game needing nine points to hit 1,000. She finished with 22 points on the night. The Seawolves, who are 14-8 overall and 10-7 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, host Stanislaus State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Clear Lake boys looking to close out league

The Clear Lake High boys basketball team is on fire. The Cardinals were 21-3 overall and 12-0 in league heading into Tuesday night’s game against Kelseyville — a team they beat 71-37 the first time through the North Central League I schedule. The final league contest of the season is a road game at 7 p.m. Thursday against Cloverdale, a team that is second in league at 11-1. The Cardinals beat the Eagles 69-59 the first time through the league schedule. Of course, the upcoming game is at Cloverdale and that gym can be a mighty tough place in which to steal a win.

Freshman leads Bear Cubs baseball team to 8-0 start

Last week in this space, there was word of the hot bats for the Santa Rosa Junior College softball team. Well, the Bear Cubs baseball team is tearing it up, too. Santa Rosa is 8-0, with resounding wins over Chabot, Marin and Laney College. They beat DeAnza 12-1 and Feather River 17-1.

Freshman and Rancho Cotate grad Joey Kramer is leading the offensive charge with a .400 average. He’s tied with sophomore Logan Douglas, who prepped at Petaluma High, for RBIs with 13. Douglas is hitting .394. Dominic Rigio, a sophomore out of Maria Carrillo, is hitting .367 and freshman catcher Blake McDonald, who prepped at Montgomery, is hitting .357.

Sophomore Noah Rennard, another Maria Carrillo product, continues to be an ace on the mound. He’s got a 0.54 ERA in 16 innings pitched and three appearances. Up next for the Bear Cubs is a road game Thursday against Solano College, followed by a home game at 2 p.m. Friday against Mendocino College.

Gauchos girls basketball team closing out VVAL race

The Casa Grande Gauchos have locked up the Vine Valley Athletic League girls basketball race and close out the regular season with a final regular-season home game at 7 p.m. Thursday against Sonoma Valley. The last time these two squads met, the Gauchos beat the Dragons 53-34.

The Gauchos were 14-9 overall and 9-1 in league heading into Tuesday night’s home game against Justin-Siena, a team they beat 43-22 on the road the first time around. The only blemish on their record is a 49-44 loss at the hands of crosstown rival Petaluma on Feb. 4. The Gauchos are currently ranked seventh in the North Coast Section among Division 2 schools. Also on that list? The Montgomery Vikings at No. 4, Rancho Cotate ninth and Petaluma 11th.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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