The Shasta County Sports midseason Lunch Pail Gang, players who come to work, check in and get things done on the basketball court. (Illustration by Aaron Williams / Shasta County Sports)
Years ago, when I was at the newspaper, I wrote a basketball piece where I highlighted those kids who I loved watching. Not because they would fill up the basket with points, but because they were solid contributors who came to the job daily and just worked. I called them the Lunch Pail Gang. I love those players – the ones who might not be the focal point of the offense or the star of the team, but nonetheless show up, put in an honest day’s work and help make things better. After all, you talk to anyone in business and they’ll tell you the janitor and secretary are as important, if not more so, than the CEO.
I love guys and gals that relish in their role for the team and excel at it. Maybe it’s my lineman mentality from football, but doing your job is essential to success. Touchdowns aren’t scored without the Hogs up front blocking and the superstar on the basketball court doesn’t get to shine without the bangers down low grabbing boards and the points dishing out assists.
So with that, I present the midseason Lunch Pail Gang. These are based off observations and stats submitted to MaxPreps. Want to get your player noticed, hit us up, drop us a note telling us to watch so-and-so, or get your coach to keep updated stats.
See you at the gym.
Cade Corontzos, Shasta
Probably the most-underreported stats in high school basketball is charges taken. And often, the charge is a huge momentum changer. Corontzos averages nearly 1 charge per night in sixth-man minutes. He’s a high-energy guy who knows his role isn’t to score but be a defensive pain in the rear and he relishes in it.
Luke Lindsey, Foothill
While I wish the mullet was still in play, I love Lindsey’s energy and passion. The electric junior is Red Bull on the court. He’s got stats across the board – 11.9 points, 1.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 0.8 blocks per night – and has a knack for coming up clutch in key moments. Josiah Hutt may be the engine that drives the Foothill machine, but it’s Lindsey who supplies the fuel.
Lambert Salvatierra, West Valley
While Sean Proscher lights up the scoreboard as a 3-point scoring machine, Salvatierra, for me, is the heart and soul of the Eagles. He’s a grinder at point guard, who directs James O’Brien’s offense with deft ability. He’s a slasher on offense who can finish down the lane and a lock-down dude on defense. Like a lot of dudes on this list, I’d like to put a step-counter on Salvatierra just to see how much mileage he logs each night.
Leslie Cummings, Enterprise
It would be easy for the Hornets’ quarterback to big-time it on the hardwood. Instead, Cummings is hard-working and never seems to take a possession off. He pestered Shasta in the first rivalry meeting and hit some clutch shots to boot. With talent surrounding him, Cummings can relish in his role of defensive pest, occasional scorer and big-time energy source.
Brian Meeker, Fall River
You have to love a kid who averages more rebounds than points scored – and that’s exactly what Meeker has done over 18 games for the Bulldogs. Meeker pulls down 9.3 rebounds per night and adds 6.8 points per contest. Victories are often won down low and rebounds matter.
Austin Larson, Redding Christian
While I defer to the “Can he play at the D-II, D-III level?” to my colleague TJ Holmes – whose answer is “absolutely” – Larson is a Lunch Pail guy to me not because he puts up insane numbers, but that he does it night in, night out. It’s not the 31 and 14 that he averages, it’s that he averages that. That means, as an opposing coach, I know I’m in a 31-point hole before the tip.
Christian Teague, Anderson
Smart and heady, Teague’s game-winning buzzer-beater against West Valley earlier in the season was a product of his Lunch Pail worthiness. He knew the inbounds play wasn’t going according to plan and looked to find an open shooter as time wound down. And then had the foresight to realize the shot was off and took a great path to the rebound. Cagey and crafty, Teague also can fill it if needed.
Andres Munoz-Nieves, Central Valley
A tireless worker on the floor, he’s the standard that juniors Nawoj Cawker, Kevin Seaman and Dojah Alido can look to as the how to grind during a full 32-minute game. In the Anderson tournament earlier in the year, Munoz-Nieves was clutch as the Falcons handed Del Norte an overtime loss, hitting free throws down the stretch and playing lock-down defense in the extra period.
Kaden Jones, U-Prep
The Panthers’ point can score if needed, but he does a great job facilitating the U-Prep offense. His ability to get the ball to scorers Logan Hawes, Jordan Miller and Tanner Stephens is a big reason the Panthers are front-runners with West Valley in Division IV. A tireless worker on the floor, Jones never stops moving or slows down.
Jenna Wallace, Foothill
Leading the team in points and rebounds, 15.4 and 9.9, isn’t all that Wallace does either. Wallace might end up leading the section in minutes played. And for a post, that’s huge.She’s on the floor most of the night for the Cougars and is always in the thick of the action. In addition to senior leadership, Wallace’s stamina gives her a spot with the Lunch Pail Gang.
Taryn Giacomelli, Shasta
In a few years, the young Wolves could be scary good. Ella Rodriguez can score, Isabelle Smith is multi-faceted and Genny Kendall is a coming along nicely. Giacomelli could be the best of the lot. She’s a tireless defender, can score and has a motor that simply never quits. She’s rounding out her game still, but as the old axiom says “hustle never takes a night off.”
Karina Archibald, Enterprise
Eased into the season while recovering from a knee injury, Archibald seems to be hitting her stride. She can score in bunches, defend with tenacity in addition to bringing senior leadership intangibles. But the thing that gives Archibald a spot here is that she’s all business inside the lines. She’s 100 percent focused, playing smart and hard from tip to buzzer.
Mille Odurukwe, U-Prep
She’s not going to drop double-digits night in, night out, but she’s going to give you a low-post presence, hustle and the most of her ability. And that’s what the Lunch Pail Gang is all about. Odurukwe is a physical presence for the Panthers, charged with grabbing boards and making it easier for the cadre of scorers to do their thing.
Jordan McCoy, U-Prep
There’s a second Panther on the list for the simple reason that McCoy works. She’s got offensive game, but what I saw against Enterprise, when she was charged with guarding Jadyn Matthews, earned McCoy a spot on the squad. Yes, Matthews had 20, but she worked for every … single … point. McCoy is another who logs miles on the floor and whose motor never seems to stop.
Crysta Papesh, Anderson
Cubs coach Jeremiah Jones close when he said in preseason that Papesh wouldn’t be surprised if she averaged 20. Papesh is averaging 16.7 and 13.9 boards per night and is the straw that stirs the drink for Big Blue. It’s one thing to score at will, but Papesh, a stretch 4, relishes in rebounds and doing a lot of the dirty work that gets noticed from the Lunch Pail keepers.
Maddie Steele, West Valley
Team scoring leaders Jenna Adkins and Ashlee Lewis probably grab the headlines more often, but the junior Steele is a perfect fit on the Lunch Pail Gang. She’s third on the Eagles in scoring, but has the stat sheet surrounded. She’s averaging more than three boards, steals and assists per night for the 11-11 Eagles.
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