PD Preps Insider: Former Casa Grande girls standout on quest for NIT title

Former Casa Grande star Gretchen Harrigan, right, and Sacramento State teammate Hallie Gennett, left, force a turnover by Cal's Penina Davidson in a Dec. 3 game. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Former Casa Grande star Gretchen Harrigan, right, and Sacramento State teammate Hallie Gennett, left, force a turnover by Cal’s Penina Davidson in a Dec. 3 game. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Gretchen Harrigan, the All-Empire girls basketball player of the year when she played for Casa Grande a few years back, is helping lead Sacramento State on its quest for a National Invitation Tournament trophy.

The Hornets have advanced to the third round and will host St. Mary’s on Thursday. In the opening-round game last Thursday at Pacific, the starting forward scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds.

This past Monday, in an 84-49 rout of Eastern Washington, Harrigan played 20 minutes and scored four points.

Harrigan played for Santa Rosa JC as a freshman before accepting a scholarship to Sac State.

Windsor’s ace

Earlier this month, Windsor golfer Derek Cena put his name in the NBL record book by nailing a hole in one. It was thought to be the first ace in more than a decade of league competition.

The senior used a 9-iron on No. 8 at Oakmont East (145 yards).

“The ball landed about 10 feet past the pin and rolled back into the hole,” Cena said. “I was super excited when I saw it go down in the cup.”

Cena has been playing since he was 5 and was introduced to the game by his late grandfather, Brian Gilligan.

Rancho hits the road

Rancho Cotate’s baseball team will depart for Southern California later this week where the Cougars will participate in the Anaheim Lions Tournament. More than 70 teams will compete and each school is guaranteed five games.

Rancho’s first game is Saturday night against Rocklin. The Cougars are 1-6 but have been playing better recently, according to coach John Morrow.

Bodybuilding star

Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, an SRJC student and Casa Grande graduate, placed second in his division on Saturday at the Northern California Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships in San Francisco.

Lilja-Ruiz, 18, who took up the sport only a year ago, competed in the Teen Men’s Bodybuilding division.

El Molino boys can jump

The only high school boys volleyball team in the Redwood Empire is on a roll. El Molino beat Sir Francis Drake — the defending North Coast Section Division 3 champion — to win the NorCal Invitational Volleyball Tournament at Drake on Saturday. It’s the first time the Lions have won the highly competitive tournament since 2009, the year they went on to win the section D3 title.

Now El Molino gets a rematch. Drake visits Forestville at 5 p.m. Wednesday in a Marin Catholic Athletic League game. With no other local boys volleyball teams to oppose, El Mo plays in the MCAL.

Phil Barber and Howard Senzell contributed to this report.