By Pete Zarustica
Garden Grove Journal
The biggest news in Orange County sports came from Anaheim in 2011, but the local high school teams made some noise as well as we look back on the year that was.
The Halos signed the “best player in baseball” and looked forward to a stellar 2012; the Anaheim Ducks had the best player in hockey but stumbled badly.
There were no CIF team titles for local prep teams, but one squad came close and there were stars a-plenty on the fields, courts, pools and diamonds.
Our Top Five Local Sports Stories of 2011.
1. Angels Sign Albert Pujols: The $254-million, 10-year contract for the slugger from St. Louis could lift the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right into heaven, athletically and financially. That is, if he can avoid the bad luck and early exits that many Halo free agents have experienced.
2. Rancho Wins the GGL Football Title: Led by multiple-threat Brett Hurley, the Vaqueros broke Garden Grove’s three-year hold on the league crown. Rancho beat Los Amigos 29-17 in a showdown for the title.
3. Argo Girls Poloists Almost Win CIF: Garden Grove High’s girls’ water polo team came close to winning its first CIF section title, losing 11-8 to Santa Ana Valley in the Division VII final. They’ll be good again in 2012.
4. Bert Blyleven Elected to Hall of Fame: The former Santiago High star was finally elected to be honored at Cooperstown. He won 287 major league games and is fifth on the all-time strikeout list, playing for the Twins, Pirates, Rangers, Indians and Angels.
5. Sacramento Kings Flirt With OC: The Kings came close to leaving the state capitol and becoming the latest tenant at the Honda Center under the new name of the Anaheim Royals. It seemed all but a done deal but the team will be in Sacto for at least two more seasons. Watch this space.
Also Memorable in 2011
• Kory Weeks of Rancho Alamitos was the Garden Grove League MVP and led the Vaqueros to the GGL baseball title.
• Kaylee Carlson of Pacifica, a freshman, starred for the Mariners who won the Empire League softball title and advanced to the second round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs. Carlson was second in the county with a tiny 0.75 ERA.
• Garden Grove’s boys’ basketball team won its third-straight Garden Grove League title.
• Bolsa Grande snapped a 25-game losing streak in football and finished with a 4-6 record under new coach Simon Fuentes.
• Pacifica baseball team advanced to the CIF quarterfinals, losing 2-1 to Arcadia.
•Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks was the NHL’s Most Valuable Player for 2010-11, but so far this season the locals are mired last in their division and next-to-last in the league.