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Prep Boys Basketball

Napa Valley Prep Boys Basketball: Braves run past Wolves, 72-51, tighten grip on first place

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It’s no secret that Travis Hightower can do many unique things on the basketball court. He’s a difference-maker on a nightly basis thanks to his skill set.

The 6-foot-7 senior with a knack for showing up in the most important games was a menace Monday night at Daniel J. Clark Gym as he went for a game-high 25 points and grabbed 6 rebounds to lead the host Braves past visiting Vine Valley Athletic League foe American Canyon, 72-51.

The combo guard-forward scored 13 points in the second half, converted on three shots from beyond the arc, and made 4 of 6 free throws.

“I was getting a lot of good looks from my teammates,” Hightower explained. “I feel like that really helped my performance, then looking for me, and I was able to perform when they gave me the ball.”

The Braves swept their season series with the Wolves, having also defeated them 51-39 at American Canyon on Jan. 4.

After a slow start in the rematch, Justin-Siena (19-2, 7-0 VVAL) got its offense going and went on a 25-4 run that gave it a 27-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“I don’t know if so much changed as we just kept playing,” Justin-Siena head coach and athletic director George Nessman said of how his squad overcame its slow start. “We have a lot of respect for American Canyon. They play really hard. They have good shooters, good, good scorers. We just tried to stay with what we’re doing well. We try not to get distracted as a group, just to stay the course and stay after it. That’s what we did and, eventually, we were able to break through.”

The Braves extended the gap to 56-33 by the end of the third after holding American Canyon to just 3 points in that quarter. They ended that frame on an 11-0 run, as well.

“We made some changes defensively,” Nessman said of the adjustments his team made at halftime. “We switched some assignments and we changed some of our covers in terms of what they were doing. It helped a little bit, but really it was a matter of our guys knuckling down and competing a little harder defensively.”

Justin-Siena ended the night with a trio of double-digit scorers, a common occurrence this season.

Finishing as the Braves' second-highest scorer was forward Jaden Washington, who had 11 points, 3 rebounds and a blocked shot. He scored 6 points after the break and made 3 of 4 free throws.

“Jaden’s been doing that constantly for over a month now, well back into the non-conference portion of our schedule,” Nessman said of the junior, who comes off the bench. “Jaden’s a good basketball player and he’s solid. He's a smart, tough competitor and he brings a lot to the table for us, no question.”

Ma’el Blunt ended the night with 10 points and 6 rebounds. The senior guard did the majority of his scoring in the first half when he had 6 points.

Others scoring for Justin-Siena were Vince Jackson (8 points, 5 rebounds), Nick Jeramaz (6 points, 6 rebounds), Asher Cleary (5 points, 3 rebounds), DJ Ryan (3 points), Nate Spare (2 points, 1 rebound) and Jackson Dunkley (2 points).

The Wolves (12-9, 5-2 VVAL) had their moments of brilliance in the contest. They began the game on a 10-2 run and finished the first half on a 7-0 run to pull within 38-30 at the break.

“They just got themselves under control,” American Canyon head coach Scott Hayburn explained. “We were up 10-2, and then they outscored us 25-4. I felt like during that run we were becoming very frazzled. Once we regrouped, executed again (and) got good looks, we played our brand of basketball and that's what was able to make it a game.”

Senior guard CJ Mitchell led the Wolves with 15 points, making three shots from 3-point land. All came in the first half.

“When his shot’s going, he’s pretty unguardable,” Hayburn said of Mitchell. “I was proud of the way he played in the first half. Second half, I assume they made adjustments. They knew that what was beating them was CJ shooting the basketball and they took that away, and they did a real good job of it.”

After that, scoring was sparse for the Wolves. They didn’t have anyone else finish in double digits.

Both teams will continue VVAL action this week. Justin-Siena will visit Vintage at 7 p.m. Wednesday and American Canyon has the league bye Wednesday night before visiting Casa Grande at 7 p.m. Friday.

Justin-Siena JV 64, American Canyon 43

In a battle for first place, the Braves (13-7, 6-1 VVAL) split the season series with American Canyon on Monday night.

Justin-Siena overcame a first-quarter deficit by outscoring American Canyon drastically in the second and third quarters.

Leading the Braves was sophomore forward Charlie Vaziri with a game-high 26 points, 18 in the second half. He also connected on 6 of 7 free throws.

Others scoring for Justin-Siena were Finn Machado (9 points), Xiano Ortega (9 points), Justin Mangelson (8 points), Dylan Arnold (7 points) and Josh Madayag (2 points).

The Wolves (15-5, 6-1 VVAL) started the game fast as they quickly vaulted to an 18-13 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Leading the way for American Canyon was sophomore captain Joshua Aguiluz with 17 points, 11 in the first half. He made three shots from 3-point range while going 2 of 5 from the charity stripe.

Also scoring for the Wolves were Anthony Castro (10 points), Gabe Moore (9 points), Evan Emmons (4 points), Tito Villanueva (2 points) and James Apuyan (2 points).

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