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Napa Valley Notes and Quotes: Pacific Union College drops men's hoop opener at UC Merced, 75-52
Notes and Quotes

Napa Valley Notes and Quotes: Pacific Union College drops men's hoop opener at UC Merced, 75-52

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Chris Jones and Malik Skillern each scored in double figures, but the Pacific Union College men’s basketball team lost its 2021 California Pacific Conference opener, 75-52, to host UC Merced at Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium on March 24.

Jones scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and had three rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes.

Skillern scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting and had two steals and two assists in 31 minutes.

Jamal Johnson scored nine points and had two rebounds.

Alton Turner had six points and five rebounds. Carson Anderson had five rebounds.

Other contributors for the Pioneers included Victor Wariso (six rebounds), Jordan Lopez (four rebounds), and Isaiah McCullough and Gyasi Farries (two rebounds each).

Pacific Union was 17-of-55 shooting (30.9 percent), 5-of-18 from 3-point distance (27.8 percent), and 13-of-27 from the free-throw line (48.1 percent).

UC Merced was ahead at halftime, 31-25.

It’s a very limited season with the Pioneers playing a seven-game spring schedule.

***

The Pacific Union College women’s cross country team finished fourth at the recent California Pacific Conference Championship Meet in Angwin.

Alma Ramirez was PUC’s top finisher, placing 14th in a time of 22:02. Evleena Bouit was 20th for the Pioneers in a time of 25:32.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott, Ariz.) won its sixth straight team title. UC Merced was second and Cal Maritime was third.

Ariana Anderson of Embry-Riddle won the individual title, clocking 18:09 for the 5K race.

Embry-Riddle moves on to the NAIA National Championships on April 9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

***

The Embry-Riddle men’s cross country team won its seventh straight title at the recent California Pacific Conference Championship Meet at Pacific Union College in Angwin.

PUC’s Abraham Garrido was 18th in 34:21, Matthew Ocegueda was 20th in 35:32, and Cyrus Jones was 23rd in 37:09.

UC Merced was second and Cal Maritime was third.

Grady Kerst of Embry-Riddle won the individual title, clocking 26:16 for the 8K race.

Embry-Riddle moves on to the NAIA National Championships on April 9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

***

St. Helena High School senior Harper McClain finished third in the girls’ championship 3,200-meter run at the Sundown Track Series #3 meet on Saturday at Queen Creek High School in Queen Creek, Ariz.

McClain, who will run on cross country and track and field teams for the University of Oregon next year, had a time of 10:35.57. She ran unattached in the meet.

The series of three meets, all in Arizona and starting in February, “attracted distance runners from multiple states looking to be pushed to personal bests by some of the country’s elite runners,” according to a report by MileSplit California at ca.milesplit.com.

“As was the case in each of the three distance-only meets, each one produced faster and faster times across mile and 3,200-meter races,” MileSplit California reported.

Dalia Frias of Mira Costa-Manhattan Beach won the race in a time of 10:24.79. Riley Chamberlain of Del Oro-Loomis was second at 10:27.22.

***

Ony Velez of Gilroy and Billy Witt of Kelseyville won division titles at an Amateur Players Tour event on March 28 on the South Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.

Velez won the Division 1 title, shooting a 6-over-par 78.

Witt won the Division 2 title, carding a 76.

***

Prolific Prep of Napa Christian (30-3) is No. 12 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings, announced on March 30 at maxpreps.com.

Prolific Prep is No. 13 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings, announced on March 23 at maxpreps.com.

The Crew are playing this week in the GEICO Nationals, which began Wednesday and wrap up Saturday at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. Prolific Prep opened Wednesday against La Lumiere of La Porte, Ind.

***

Christopher Goin of Alameda fired a 3-over-par 75 to win the Silverado South Shootout, a US Am Tour event, on March 21 at Silverado Resort and Spa. It was played on the South Course, which was set up at 6,207 yards.

Adam Kenney of Livermore was second with a 78.

Tying for third with 80s were Dennis Kunz of Foster City and Gary Addison of Fairfield.

Tying for fifth at 81 were Dan Corral of San Bruno, Blake Mori of Rancho Murrieta, and Izaiah Jackson of San Francisco.

Finishing tied for eighth with 82s were Mark Steppan of Oakland and Colin Miller of Danville.

Tying for 10th with 83s were Tom Weber of Santa Clara, Cameron Emrick of Reno, and Dan Woods of Napa.

The US Am Tour, according to usamtour.com, is “a nationwide series of amateur golf tournaments open to anyone that wishes to compete on the local, regional, and ultimately national level.

“Our mission is simple — to provide an unrivaled, immersive, and comprehensive Tour and tournament experience for competitive amateur players of all abilities and ages.

“The US Am Tour operates single round and multiple round golf tournaments across the country at the best public and private venues.”

Silverado will host two additional US Am Tour events this year:

  • Silverado North Shootout, June 28.
  • 2021 NorCal Cup, South Course, Oct. 3. It’s an invitation-only event with 48 players.

***

Heather Luna, the general manager of the Vallejo Admirals of the independent Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, was named as the Director of League Administration for the Pioneer Baseball League, it was announced by the league on March 18.

Luna, a Napa native and Vintage High graduate, will oversee the Pioneer League’s player transactional rules, serve as the league’s liaison with Major League Baseball, and operate the league’s website and social media outlets, according to a press release.

“As a Latina in a traditionally male industry, Heather is truly a pioneer in the ranks of senior sports executives, particularly having served as an AGM and a GM in independent professional baseball,” Pioneer League President Michael Shapiro said in a press release.

Luna was the assistant general manager of the San Rafael Pacifics, an independent team, in 2018.

“She has incredible organizational and management skills that will serve the Pioneer League well as it fully develops as both an independent league and an MLB Partner League,” Shapiro added.

Luna is a Sonoma State graduate. As part of her master’s program in sport management at the University of San Francisco, she did an internship with the Oakland Raiders, spending one season with the team working as a premium services representative.

Luna also worked for host committees for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara in 2016 and Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017.

The Pioneer League, an independent league, will have eight teams for the 2021 season. There are three teams in Montana (Billings, Missoula, Great Falls), two teams in Idaho (Boise, Idaho Falls), two teams in Colorado (Grand Junction, Colorado Springs), and one team in Utah (Ogden).

The Northern Colorado Owlz will join the League in 2022.

The Admirals recently announced they will not be playing this year “due to the uncertain infrastructure surrounding COVID … the Pacific Association has chosen to restructure in 2021 to allow those teams in approved counties the opportunity to play should they be able to.”

Said Luna, “As much as we would love to open our gates should Solano County get to the orange tier, allowing 20% fans, or beyond, the endless hypothetical planning just cannot be thrown together last minute.”

The Admirals said they “are gearing up to be fully prepared for the 2022 season” and to look for newsletters and updates via their Facebook and Instagram accounts (@vallejoadmirals) toward the end of 2021.

“We want our fans to know that we are not going anywhere and trust that we are planning to show Vallejo a Wilson Park update it deserves,” Luna said. “Thank you for your ongoing support, allowing us to put together the best summer experience at the ballpark yet in 2022.”

The 2021 regular season was anticipated to begin at the end of May and end after playoffs in early September. This is the second year in a row the Pacific Association, which also includes the Napa Silveradoes and Sonoma Stompers, has had to cancel a regular season due to the coronavirus.

***

Sasha French completed the season for the Azusa Pacific University men’s basketball team by averaging 7.9 points on 48.6 percent shooting from the field and 4.8 rebounds per game in 11 games (all starts).

French, a senior forward and a 2015 Justin-Siena graduate, averaged 20.4 minutes per game during the limited 2021 season for Azusa Pacific (5-7 overall, 4-6 PacWest).

French is a transfer from the University of Albany in New York who has also played at Prolific Prep of Napa Christian, the Hun School of Princeton, New Jersey, and Napa Valley College.

He was a redshirt freshman at the University of San Francisco.

***

Nate Bittle, a 6-foot-11 forward-center for Prolific Prep of Napa Christian, was named to the 2021 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team, it was announced on March 25 by USA Basketball. There are 14 players on the roster.

Bittle, from Central Point, Ore., was named to the 2021 McDonald’s All-American Games final roster in February, it was announced in a press release at mcdonaldsallamerican.com.

He is averaging 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for Prolific Prep (30-3 overall).

“Due to COVID-19, the 2021 Nike Hoop Summit game will not be played, but the team members joined a video conference on March 25 to learn of their roster selection for the first time,” USA Basketball said in a news release at nikehoopsummit.com.

Bittle, listed No. 10 in the ESPN 100 for the 2021 class, has signed a national letter-of-intent to play at the University of Oregon.

Bittle transferred from Crater High School in Central Point, Ore. to Prolific Prep for his senior season.

“Despite the game not being able to be played this year, we are excited to recognize these elite players for their success during such a challenging year,” Sean Ford, USA Basketball Men’s National Team director and chair of the USA Basketball Developmental National Team Committee, said in a news release. “Each of these players are worthy of being part of the 2021 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team, and we look forward to them being part of national teams in the future.”

As a junior at Crater High, Bittle was named as the MaxPreps Player of the Year in the State of Oregon and third-team All-American by MaxPreps.

He was third-team All-American by MaxPreps as a sophomore.

He was selected first-team USA Today All-USA Oregon and first-team All-State in 2019.

***

Gary Trent Jr., a guard, and Rodney Hood, a guard-forward, were acquired by the Toronto Raptors from the Portland Trail Blazers on March 25 for Norman Powell, a guard, it was announced at nba.com.

Trent, who played at Prolific Prep of Napa Christian, was averaging 15 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 30.8 minutes per game through 41 games during the 2020-21 season.

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Email Marty James at martyjames.sports@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @marty_nvsports

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