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Buljan eighth-grade girls complete perfect season

Ruiz' 17 points per game leads Bulldogs to title
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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A formidable combination of size, speed and incredible athletic ability proved overwhelming to all foes as the eighth-grade girls basketball team at Buljan Middle School took the Foothill Intermediate School Athletic League title in the season concluded earlier this week. The Lady Bulldogs delivered a stern message in burying their Rocklin-based rivals from Granite Oaks in the season’s initial contest, and then proceeded to leave a dozen additional opponents in their wake. While putting together a dominating 13-0 league record, the team was most impressive as it maintained its focus on each and every game, despite numerous lopsided outcomes. “We never took any team for granted and played hard every game,” said coach Alan Warnock. “The girls just did not want to lose.” Brianna Ruiz was impossible to defend, as she was able to own the paint and also take her turn on occasion as the primary ball-handler for the Bulldogs. She scored 17 points per game, and in the pivotal season-opening win over second-place Granite Oaks, she outscored the entire Falcon squad. Point guard Kristin Ladas ran the show for Buljan, and dished out seven assists per contest as she made everyone around her better. Lauren Stafford provided strong defense and the Bulldogs also received considerable help inside from Jennifer Simon and Marrisa Dumford. “Stafford was our defensive spark when we needed a steal she would get one,” Warnock said. “Dumford and Simon did the dirty work under the boards, getting rebounds we needed them the most.” A midseason stretch and games against E.V. Cain (Auburn) and Spring View (Rocklin) may have been the biggest obstacle for the Lady Bulldogs. “We had a lot of kids sick with the flu that week and struggled a lot filling spots,” said Warnock, “but the reserves stepped up and did the job for us.” While many successful middle school teams earn their keep with the full-court press, Buljan did much of its damage using its half-court trap, and then running out in transition. With their eighth-grade season in the books, this group moves on to high school next year, having left a legacy of excellence in the rearview mirror. Their overall record over the past two seasons is 29-3, with a 27-1 mark in FISAL games. “These girls are special because they get along so well on and off the court,” Warnock said. “When it is time to work hard they will but they also have a lot of fun together.” The members of the 2009 FISAL eighth-grade champion Buljan Bulldogs are Kirsten McFate, Brianna Ruiz, Jennifer Simon, Sydney Sandoval, Melissa Martinez, Paige Horn, Marrisa Dumford, Delaney DeMello, Lauren Stafford, Stephanie Johnson, Lexi Wilkerson, Jordyn Smith and Kristin Ladas. Buljan (Roseville) 13-0 Granite Oaks (Rocklin) 12-1 W.T. Eich (Roseville) 10-3 E.V. Cain (Auburn) 10-3 Spring View (Rocklin) 9-4 Silverado (Roseville) 8-5 Antelope Crossing (Antelope) 7-6 Twelve Bridges (Lincoln) 5-8 Glen Edwards (Lincoln) 5-8 Olympus (Roseville) 4-9 Creekview Ranch (Roseville) 3-10 Cooley (Roseville) 3-10 Cavitt (Granite Bay) 2-11 W.C. Riles (Roseville) 0-13