It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen when two high school girls basketball teams square off to open the season two months after it usually ends.
Vintage started its season on fire Friday night, racing to a 17-point lead at one point in the first quarter in a Vine Valley Athletic League contest against visiting American Canyon.
But the Wolves were on fire the rest of the night, cutting their deficit to eight points by halftime and to two after three quarters before forcing overtime and prevailing 58-54.
The teams’ head coaches each took the helm in the 2016-17 season, and Vintage’s Joe Donohoe was 6-0 against American Canyon’s Angela Davis going into the game. The Wolves are now 4-8 all-time against the Crushers.
“When we went down 20-3, I called a timeout and before I could get a word out, the young ladies were saying to each other ‘OK, nerves over, we need to calm down and play.’ It was encouraging to see them coach each other up with such positivity,” Davis said.
“So we just set goals for ourselves for the remainder of the game: Get it to 10 or under by half, get to within four by the end of the third, then close the gap and win the game. Everyone played a part in our successful outcome — from the plays on the floor to the energy from our bench. They just believed that they could, played with each other and came out with the team win.”
American Canyon was led by two players with double-doubles. Returning sophomore starter Jasmine Fontilla, the reigning All-Napa County Newcomer of the Year, had 20 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and two assists, and Destiny Evans tallied 12 points, 12 rebounds and a steal.
Trinity Billingsley had 11 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, Amaree Bennett five points, six rebounds and a steal, Jasnoor Sidhu five points, three rebounds, two steals and an assist, Jullianna Cornelio three points and three boards, and Olivia Gradington two points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Vintage was led by Eden Wood, who scored 11 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Lizzie Qui, who had a team-high 12 points and two steals. Kate Kerr added six points and 12 rebounds, Liv Hedberg three points and four rebounds, Gianna McDaniel 10 points, Ella Pridmore seven points, four rebounds and two steals, Kayla Cleveland two points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, Sophia Notaro two points and six rebounds, Katy Gibbs one point and three boards, and Sophie Lerner two rebounds and one steal.
“We started amazingly (but) American Canyon fought back in the second quarter,” Donohoe said. “We got in foul trouble and started turning the ball over, as young teams do early in the season. It was a hard-fought second half by both teams. We had three starters in foul trouble (in the fourth) and our bench kept battling and kept it tight. We weren't as good on the free-throw line as we can and need to be, which cost us. Missing 10 in the fourth quarter led, in my opinion, to overtime. American Canyon made shots and we didn't.”
With seven seniors and three underclassmen leading their scoring, the Wolves are looking like a favorite in the VVAL.
Vintage has four starters back, but no seniors and no other returners. The Crushers committed 20 turnovers and were just 13 of 34 from the free-throw line.
“We have a young group again this year, and I can't wait to see where we end up,” Donohoe said. “I’m disappointed we didn't get the win tonight. That said, we did a lot of really good things. Our effort and energy were tremendous, particularly on the defensive side. Our issues were all correctable things.”
Both teams continue VVAL play at 7 p.m. Wednesday, when American Canyon visits Justin-Siena (0-1 VVAL). Vintage hosts Casa Grande (0-1 VVAL), a 36-32 loser to visiting Sonoma Valley on Friday.
Petaluma 45, Justin-Siena 39
The Braves and host Petaluma came out with a lot of energy after their long layoff and Justin-Siena led 8-7 after one quarter. However, the Trojans used strong offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting to go up 23-16 by halftime. After being down 30-18, the Braves finished the third quarter strong to pull within 33-29. Justin-Siena cut it to a one-possession game multiple times in the fourth, but could not get the stop or score to tie the game or take the lead.
Petaluma significantly outrebounded the Braves and dominated at the line, shooting 31 free throws while the Braves got only four attempts.
Leading Justin-Siena were Isabella Wright with 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists, Charmaine Griffin with nine points and three rebounds, Alyssa Curtola with eight points, four rebounds and three steals, Lili Galambos with four points and four rebounds, Lexi Rosenbrand with three points and seven rebounds, and Cassie Richardson with two points and four rebounds.
Napa Valley starts 1-2
The Storm opened their season with three games in two days against Bay Valley Conference foe Contra Costa, going 1-2 against the visitors from San Pablo.
On Thursday, NVC got four innings of five-hit ball from starting pitcher Jayge Campbell in an 11-6 victory over the Comets. The 2020 Vintage High graduate left with the Storm ahead 6-5 and got the win, striking out three and allowing three earned runs — one on a home run — and a walk. Tanner Fonoti worked five innings for the save, yielding an earned run on three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts.
Leading NVC at the plate were Tony Diaz (3 for 4, RBI, home run, double, walk, two runs scored), Koby Sherwood (3 for 4, two doubles, two RBIs), Bronson Wyman (2 for 4, two doubles, four RBIs, walk, two runs scored), Wyatt Dorman (2 for 4, RBI, run scored, stolen base), A.J. McMahon (2 for 3, three runs scored) and Dominic “D.J.” Pautin (2 for 4, RBI, run scored) and Christopher Blyskal (1 for 4, run scored).
St. Helena High graduate Caleb Jeske — the 2019 All-Napa County Player of the Year — added a walk, stolen base and run scored.
Contra Costa bounced back by sweeping Friday’s doubleheader, 9-3 and 14-5.
A 2019 St. Helena product, Jack Adkins, took the loss in the first game after pitching the first 1 2/3 innings. He gave up five runs, all earned, on four hits, five walks, a hit batter, and two strikeouts. Erik Altemus (3 1/3 innings, four runs, four hits, three walks, four strikeouts, home run) and Cole Shafer (two innings, one hit, two strikeouts) finished up.
Out-hit 9-7, the Storm got offense from Wyman (3 for 3, double, RBI), Dorman (1 for 3, double, run scored), Diaz (1 for 4), Blyskal (1 for 3, run scored), Pautin (1 for 3), Marcus Steen (walk, RBI) and McMahon (run scored).
In the seven-inning second game, Wyman got the loss after pitching the first four innings, allowing seven runs, all earned, on seven hits — including two homers — with five strikeouts and two walks. Finishing up were Ronald Rodin (2/3 inning, seven earned runs, eight hits, two strikeouts, walk), Luis Santamaria (1 1/3 inning, hit, two strikeouts) and Adrien Garcia (one inning, hit, strikeout, walk).
Jack Wicker pitched a three-hitter with six strikeouts, giving up five earned runs thanks to nine walks.
The Storm got on the board in the fourth when Blyskal (1 for 2, two runs scored) drew an RBI walk and Adkins (1 for 1, walk) had an RBI single. McMahon (1 for 2, walk, two runs scored) added a three-run homer in the fifth. Steen had two walks and Michael Reagan, Derrick Robinson, Sherwood, Pautin and Diaz each added one, with Diaz scoring a run.
Napa Valley hosts Mendocino in BVC action this week, at 2 p.m. Thursday and at noon and 3 p.m. Friday.
Justin-Siena 17, St. Helena 1 (5 innings)
The Braves exploded for eight runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back on their way to an emphatic season-opening win at St. Helena (2-2) on Saturday.
Fresh off the football field Friday night and onto the diamond Saturday, leadoff batter Nick Andrews (2 for 2, RBI, three runs scored, two walks, stolen base) started the game-opening outburst with a base hit to right field, one of two hits he had in the inning.
The big hit in the frame came from starting pitcher David Elias (1 for 2, two RBIs, stolen base), who greeted relieving Saints ace Stacy Nelson with a two-run single to right field.
Staked with an eight-run lead before he took the mound, Elias fired a two-hitter with five strikeouts and three walks. Both hits came off the bat of Brent Isdahl, a single and a home run.
In the top of the fourth for Justin-Siena, Keith Binz (1 for 3, double, three RBIs, two runs scored) laced a two-run, two-out double to push the lead to 11-0, starting another rally that was capped by a mammoth two-run homer from Braden Snoke (1 for 3, three RBIs, two runs scored, walk).
Braves head coach Jeremy Tayson said outfielders Jackson Dann and Binz played well defensively, with Dann adding a sliding grab for the second out in the fifth.
Also providing offense for Justin-Siena were Bryce Laukert (2 for 3, three RBIs, two runs scored, walk), Everet Johnson (1 for 4), Max Zuntz (RBI, run scored), Madden Edwards (RBI, run scored), Gianni Natuzzi (RBI), Daniel Kelly (RBI, two runs scored), Ethan Jefferson (run scored) and Tim Walsh (run scored).
Justin-Siena will host Vintage at 4 p.m. Wednesday in each team’s VVAL opener.
Prep Boys Basketball
American Canyon 72, Mt. Diablo 65
The Wolves visited the Red Devils of Concord on Saturday and got a nonleague win, two nights after dropping their VVAL and season opener at Vintage.
“We shook off much of the rust from our first game and started to tap into the team I know we can be,” American Canyon head coach Scott Hayburn said. “After only a total of four hours of practice, I was amazed at how quickly this team jelled and came together after a disappointing showing at Vintage. We shot the ball exceptionally (9 of 13 from the 3-point arc and 19 of 23 from the free-throw line) and our press led to 15 steals and a number of unforced turnovers.”
Leading the Wolves was senior Gabriel Patrick, who had 17 points with three 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, three assists and six steals. He helped set the tone with a thunderous dunk after junior Mikey Pierce found him cutting down the lane with a perfectly placed pass in the first quarter.
“He demonstrated leadership and focus throughout the contest,” Hayburn said of Patrick.
Pierce had 14 points, making 6 of 6 foul shots, and hauled in six rebounds. Another junior, Khai Curry, added 13 points and was 8 of 8 from the charity stripe.
Turning in his second strong showing in a row was junior Raekwon Bell, posting 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
“This is the kind of basketball we want to play: balanced offensive attack that runs and shoots and a smothering defense that forces turnovers,” Hayburn added.
American Canyon visits Justin-Siena at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Justin-Siena 16, St. Helena 5 (6 innings)
The Braves won their season opener by the mercy rule, an inning early, at St. Helena (0-2) on Saturday.
Justin-Siena opened up an 8-5 lead with five runs in the fifth on a two-run single from Aidan Phinney and a two-run double from Lucas Stephenson. A key two-run double in the sixth from Jack Sordi stretched the lead.
Nic Scevola got the win as he pitched the first two innings, allowing a hit, three unearned runs and a walk with three strikeouts. Sordi (two innings, two hits, two unearned runs, two strikeouts, two walks) relieved him before Chase Briskovich (two innings, two strikeouts, walk) finished up.
Phinney finished with three singles, four RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. Sordi had a double and single, two RBIs, four runs scored, and a stolen base. Briskovich added two singles, an RBI, three runs scored, three walks and a stolen base. Sam Denkin had a single, run scored, two walks and two stolen bases. Lucas Stephenson had a double and two RBIs, and Matt Chadsey had two RBIs and a stolen base.
Of the 13 Braves, 12 had a hit, run or RBI.
“We played well for the first game of the season except for the six errors on defense,” said Braves head coach Steve Meyer. “Mentally we did good and took advantage of most of the situations.”
For the Saints, Justice Penterman (three innings, five runs, two earned, three strikeouts, six walks) took the loss on the mound. Christian Meineke (1 2/3 innings, six earned runs, four hits, two strikeouts, two walks) and Josh Johnson (1 1/3 innings, five runs, two earned, four hits, strikeout, walk) finished up.
St. Helena’s three hits came from Wynton Meyer (1 for 2, two RBIs, stolen base), Johnson (1 for 3, RBI) and Meineke (1 for 1, walk, run scored). Also chipping in were Penterman (RBI, two runs scored), Will Meyer (two runs scored), Zantos Segura (two walks) and Micah Marquez (walk).
Justin-Siena visits Vintage at 4 p.m. Wednesday for its VVAL opener.