In a Big Game where a playoff berth was a long shot for one crosstown rival and impossible for the other, the Vintage High girls basketball team ignored its league record and dropped Napa out of second place with a 45-42 road victory Thursday night.
The Vine Valley Athletic League contest saw senior Morgan “Mo” Groves lead the fifth-place Crushers (9-15, 4-7 VVAL) with 11 points in her second league game back after missing several due to injury. Lizzie Qui added 9 points, Rachel Galvin 7, Kate Kerr 7, Victoria Solorio 6 and Ellie Savage 5.
“It’s been really good to have Mo Groves back. In two games back, she’s had 22 points and 22 or 23 rebounds, and we were missing that throughout league,” Vintage head coach Joe Donohoe said. “But other people got opportunities during that time and took advantage of them, and that happened tonight. Eden (Wood, a returning starter) rolled her ankle yesterday in practice and couldn’t go. We taped her up and she warmed up and it was just too painful. But people stepped in and did her job for her, and that’s what a team’s supposed to do. I’m really proud of this team. We’ve come a long way.”
Sofia Tinnon led Napa (12-13, 6-5 VVAL) with 12 points. Top scoring threats Anna Ghisletta and Maizy Armstrong-Brown each scored 9. Hannah Newman and Devan Wickersham chipped in 5 apiece, and Grace Sedgley 2.
Napa led 10-9 and 21-20 after the first two quarters, but was outscored 13-11 and 12-10 in the last two despite Tinnon scoring 9 of her 12 after halftime.
The Grizzlies were coming off a 38-36 road loss to a young American Canyon team they beat 50-39 last month but has progressed.
“American Canyon is a good, athletic, young team, but like tonight, we let them outrebound us and we couldn’t shoot,” Napa head coach Taylor Willis said. “Against AC we were 1 for 21 from the 3-point line and 3 for 8 from the free-throw line. We had only 10 turnovers and we had 41 rebounds in that game, so we played a good game. We just didn’t have a great offensive game, and you need to score buckets. So in yesterday’s practice we focused on getting to the basketball and getting the basketball in the basket.
“We did a little better tonight, but we still had open layups that didn’t go in and were 61 percent from the free-throw line, so it was still not good enough. We didn’t shoot a lot of threes, and defensively I didn’t think we were disciplined enough.”
Vintage also avenged a January loss to Napa, 46-39.
“I thought we played really well against them last time, too, and made some shots, but we weren’t at full strength,” Donohoe said. “Again tonight we weren’t at full strength, but they’re not freshmen and sophomores anymore this time of year. They’ve logged a lot of minutes and effort and we’ve played a lot of close games. I knew it would be a dogfight and I knew they wanted it bad, but we’ve been working hard all year and this was a good time to show it.
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“You play in a lot of close games and you lose them, you start figuring out what you’re doing wrong at the end and tonight I thought we were really calm and I thought we were aggressive when we needed to be at the end. We got rebounds at the end and they didn’t and that was the difference, in my opinion. We shot terribly from the free-throw line, but we had (balanced scoring) and that’s when we’re at our best, when we’re spreading the ball around, and it’s great to have our seniors get a Big Game win in their last chance against Napa.”
Seven of Vintage’s 13 players are freshmen or sophomores. When Groves missed the first game, the Crushers’ starters averaged 14.6 years of age.
“The last time we played Napa, the combined age of our starters was 73, and none of them can drive,” Donohoe said. “You don’t see that too often in varsity basketball. As I told them in practice and pre-game, I don’t like this game not having extra special meaning, like with playoff implications, but you don’t really need to add juice to a Big Game. If (playing your crosstown rival) is not enough juice for you, you’re in trouble.
“I give Napa credit. Taylor’s doing a nice job with them. For me, it’s a nice time to be coaching this group. We’ve got a lot in the cupboard.”
Vintage was coming off a 51-48 overtime loss to against visiting Sonoma Valley in Tuesday’s Senior Night game, before which Groves and fellow seniors Maggie Anderson and Perla Bautista were honored.
The Dragons led 15-7 after the first quarter, Vintage led 23-20 at halftime, and Sonoma Valley took a 10-point lead into the fourth that it maintained three minutes into the quarter. But Groves, Qui and Galvin helped Vintage rally and take a three-point lead with 15 seconds left. But the Dragons’ Sophie Luchetti banked in the tying 3-pointer to force the game into an extra four minutes, and the visitors prevailed.
Leading the Crushers were Qui (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals), Groves (11 points, 11 rebounds), Wood (5 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals), Kerr (5 points, 3 rebounds), Galvin (4 points, 4 rebounds), Bautista (3 points), Savage (3 points) and Solorio (2 points, 3 rebounds).
Vintage JV 48, Napa 22
The Crushers (22-2) won at Napa High on Thursday behind Katy Gibbs’ 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a blocked shot, while Gianna McDaniel supplied 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and a blocked shot.
Also contributing for Vintage were Kayla Cleveland (7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 blocked shot), Sophie Lerner (6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot), Ella Pridmore (4 points, 9 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists), Julia Gerenser (2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals), Vanessa Macias (2 points, 2 rebounds), Sophia Notaro (8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 blocked shot) and Paige Simpkins (3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals).
The Crushers close their season at American Canyon next Thursday.