The Justin-Siena girls basketball team remained in third place in the Vine Valley Athletic League with a 38-29 road win over Napa High on Friday night.
Napa (0-11, 0-8 VVAL) led 9-4 after one quarter at Messner Gym. But the visiting Braves (6-5, 5-3 VVAL) played one of their best quarters of the season in the second and took a 19-16 lead into halftime.
After trading baskets to start the third, Justin-Siena finished the quarter strong with a 29-20 lead. The Grizzlies started the fourth by twice closing the gap to 4, but the Braves got some key baskets and free throws down the stretch.
Mary Heun led Justin-Siena with a career-high 13 points and added 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Three seniors stepped up — Isabelle Wells with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, Lexi Rosenbrand with 4 points and 8 rebounds, and Lili Galambos with 2 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Alyssa Curtola added 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals, Cassie Richardson 4 points, Isabella Wright 3 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals, and Charmaine Griffin 2 points and 3 steals.
“We knew coming in that Napa would be a tough game. Their record does not reflect their team, as they are in a tight game every time they play,” Justin-Siena head coach Andy Bettencourt said. “The girls did a great job of responding to a poor effort against Vintage on Wednesday with a much more inspired effort tonight. We were able to make shots and move the ball well enough against their zone, and defensively I loved our physicality, especially on the boards. We still have a ways to go, but tonight we definitely took a positive step forward.”
Napa was led by junior Sofia Tinnon’s 15 points, while seniors Julie Solomon and Grace Sedgley added 7 and 4 points, respectively.
In the Braves’ 52-33 loss at Vintage on Wednesday, senior Samai Wilson 3 points and 3 rebounds and Curtola had 9 points and 3 assists. Wright added 5 points and 5 rebounds, Griffin 4 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, Rosenbrand 4 points and 3 rebounds, Heun 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals, Galambos 2 points and 3 rebounds, and Wells 2 points.
“Vintage beat us, flat out,” Bettencourt said. “They outplayed us on both ends of the floor and won the game by having way less turnovers and way more offensive rebounds and free throws than us. That was a credit to their aggressiveness and physicality on both ends of the floor.”
The Braves were to host first-place Petaluma at 4 p.m. Saturday, making up a previously postponed game.
Casa Grande 43, American Canyon 40
The Wolves (6-3, 5-2 VVAL) saw their five-game win streak end with a stunning loss to the visiting Gauchos (3-6 VVAL) on Friday night.
Jasmine Fontilla (14 points, 3 rebounds), Amaree Bennett 6 points, 2 rebounds) and Destiny Evans (5 points, 8 rebounds) led American Canyon. Also contributing were Trinity Billingsley (3 points, 3 rebounds), Jasnoor Sidhu (3 points, 2 rebounds), Jullianna Cornelio (3 points), Kaniya Bryant (2 points, 3 rebounds), Eliza Garcia (2 points) and Jeri Haney (2 points).
Petaluma 50, Vintage 48
Despite a huge night by Kate Kerr (19 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals) and a third straight impactful performance from Liv Hedberg (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals), the Crushers (5-4 VVAL) had a four-game win streak broken with Friday night’s home loss to the first-place Trojans (7-1 VVAL).
Lizzie Qui (5 points, 3 assists, 3 steals), Kayla Cleveland (4 points, 4 assists, 2 steals), Gianna McDaniel (3 points, 4 steals), Sophie Lerner (2 points) and Sophia Notaro (2 points) rounded out Vintage’s scoring.
“Our effort was fantastic, as usual, but some nights the ball just doesn't bounce your way,” said Crushers head coach Joe Donohoe. “We played uphill all night and still were right there at the end. Early foul trouble flipped our gameplan quickly again. I can't quite explain it other than we seemed bit off tonight from the speed we've been playing at, which is understandable after watching the tremendous effort the girls gave on Wednesday night (in a 19-point win over visiting Justin-Siena). As a coach, I might have overestimated how much gas we had in the tank.
“We had a chance at the end and it just didn't work out this time. I’m super proud of how we responded to injuries and early foul trouble tonight against a very good Petaluma team. We are still heading in the right direction and that is what it’s all about.”
The Crushers were to visit Rancho Cotate for their first nonleague game Saturday afternoon.
Justin-Siena wrestles outside
The Braves traveled to San Anselmo to wrestle Drake in a COVID-friendly outdoors meet, one Pirates head coach Johann Gerlach called a “retro dual” due to the schools being former former Marin County Athletic League opponents. Gerlach and Braves co-coach Jesse Ward, a former Napa High grappler, have known each other since they wrestled each other in the early 1990s.
Cooper Cohee led off for the Braves with a 16-0 technical fall, and brothers Jacob Guiducci and Brandon Guiducci added pins in the second and first periods, respectively.
The most celebrated win, Ward said, came from Isaac “Georgie” Dominguez. He scored a first-period pin at 285 pounds despite normally wrestling at 220s.
“It was great to be back wrestling in the MCAL and competing with an old friendly rival,” Coach Ward said. “The dual provided a fun change of pace with the sun shining on the mats. Our small squad was evenly matched with their team. Lots of technical wrestling from Cooper, Brandon, Jacob, Sophia (Conley) and Seabass (senior Sebastian Medina). Overall, a great roll.”
The Braves visit American Canyon at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Varsity Boys Basketball
Petaluma 65, Vintage 55
The first-place Crushers (9-2, 8-1 VVAL) absorbed their first league loss of the season Thursday night, as the third-place Trojans (5-2 VVAL) never trailed in avenging last month’s 61-54 loss in Petaluma.
Petaluma came out with intensity and jumped on Vintage early, taking a 15-10 lead after one quarter. They extended their lead to 36-22 before the Crushers closed the gap to 10 by halftime on a buzzer-beating Bryce Powers layup.
“We knew at halftime we were in for a battle and a comeback wasn’t going to be easy,” Crushers head coach Ben Gongora said.
Vintage bounced back in the third by outscoring the Trojans 16-11 to cut the deficit to 47-42. The Crushers’ comeback continued into the fourth, when Josh McCormick (10 points) drove to the basket to cut the Trojans’ lead to 49-48. But Petaluma answered with a 10-0 run to push the lead to 59-48.
“They were the more aggressive team tonight,” Gongora said of the Trojans, who shot 24 free throws while Vintage had only 11 attempts. “Every game our goal is the same, to go 1-0. It’s that simple. Find a way. We weren’t able to find a way. We had our chances, even though we played without our usual grit. A one-point game midway through the fourth is anyone’s game. This game is only as bad as we make it. We’ll learn from it and work to not have a repeat. The players know what happened and will work to fix it.”
Also for the Crushers, Logan Nothmann had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, Owen Schnaible 8 points and 4 assists, Jackson Corley 8 points and 6 boards, and Cole Capitani 7 points.
Petaluma was led by senior Liam Gotschall’s 17 points, while returning all-league senior guard Esteban Bermudez chipped in 9.
The Crushers (9-2, 8-1 VVAL) visit Sonoma Valley (1-8 VVAL) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“The focus is now on Sonoma,” added Gongora. “I have a feeling we’ll be ready and our grit will return.”
Justin-Siena 3, Napa 1
The Braves came back from a first-set loss to defeat the visiting Grizzlies, 19-25, 25-22, 25-15, 25-15, with assistant coaches Samantha Lau and Lesley Giovannelli guided Justin-Siena in head coach Kate Reilley’s absence.
Reilley said Megan Hanson and Anna Hanson had great matches, Eleanor Meyers was dominant at the net, lethal at the serving line and solid in the back row, and that freshman setter Ranessa Rualo played well all-around and had a record number of assists.
For Napa, sophomore setter Morgan Cravea dished out 22 assists, while senior Shannon Sowersby led the offense with 12 kills.
“Our girls faced a good team in Justin-Siena and I am continually supporting their efforts and growth,” Grizzlies head coach Kelly Van Winden said.
Van Winden said it’s been a challenging season since senior Mia Larson suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks before the campaign started, and got tougher when senior Angelina Miller went down with a season-ending broken hand in practice two weeks ago, and freshman outside hitter Aubrielle La Pointe with a sprained ankle last week.
Justin-Siena 3, Napa 0
For the third time in four games, a Braves pitcher threw a three-hit shutout. For the second time of those three, it was Nick Andrews. Perhaps throwing even better than his outing the week prior in a 9-0 home win against Sonoma Valley, Andrews had a perfect game through 4 1/3 innings and ultimately needed only 49 pitches to get through the first five innings.
Justin-Siena struck first with well-executed offense right out of the gate. Andrews led off the game with a walk, Dalen Tinsley doubled to the left-field corner, and Noah Young and Keith Binz hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to make it 2-0.
The Braves added an important insurance run in the fourth after Robby Sangiacomo (2 for 3, double) and Bryce Laukert picked up back-to-back singles, as Sangiacomo scored from second on an errant backdoor pick-off attempt on Laukert at first by the pitcher.
The Grizzlies made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and an infield error. However, Andrews (77 pitches, 7 strikeouts) induced a comebacker to seal the victory for the Braves (7-5, 4-4V VVAL).
Braden Snoke, Everett Johnson, Young and Binz each had a single for Justin-Siena, which hosts St. Patrick-St. Vincent (10-4) of Vallejo in a nonleague game at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Justin-Siena 6, Napa 5
For the third game in a row, the Braves came out on top in a tightly played contest and beat the visiting Grizzlies on Friday.
In a game that featured good pitching and defense, timely hitting and some controversial calls, Napa got on the scoreboard first in the second inning on a two-run triple to the left-center field wall by Graham Chapouris. But the Braves tied it in the third, 2-2, when Matt Chadsey smacked an RBI double to right-center and eventually scored on an error.
Justin-Siena went up 5-2 in the fourth on an RBI single by Jason Gray (2 runs, walk, stolen base) and a two-run error. Napa came back with RBI singles from Colby Chambers and Kai Gulliksen, who had two hits, in the fifth to pull within 5-4. In the top of the sixth, the Grizzlies loaded the bases with two outs when Justin-Siena elected to intentionally walk Chapouris, who also had a single, two walks and a stolen base. But winning pitcher Trevor L'Esperance (2 innings, 3 hits, run, walk, 3 hit batters) hit Miles Tenscher to force in the tying run.
The Braves countered in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single from Denzel Dilley (3 hits, run, stolen base) to retake the lead, 6-5. That set the stage for more Dilley heroics in the top of the seventh, when Napa had the bases loaded with one out after another runner was picked off. With the speedy Ian Boon (2 hits, 2 stolen bases) batting, the Braves elected to play the infield in. Boon lifted a perfectly placed soft fly ball that appeared to have the distance to fall, but second baseman Dilley came out of nowhere to make an outstanding grab for the second out.
Willy Wilson then hit a ground ball up the first-base line and that L'Esperance scooped up and threw to first base for the out on a bang-bang play to end the game.
Cameron Aldous took the loss for Napa in relief of Noah Massey. A sophomore who has also been pitching in varsity games for the Grizzlies, Massey threw the first 4 innings and allowed 8 hits, 5 runs (2 earned) with 2 strikeouts. Luke Giusto started for the Braves and went 5 innings, yielding 7 hits, 4 runs (2 earned) and 2 walks while striking out 2, before giving way to L'Esperance. Giusto had 2 hits at the plate with a stolen base, and Stevie Todd III had 2 hits, a run and stolen base.
“This was a great game to watch from the bleachers because everybody got their money's worth. It had everything you wanted,” said Braves head coach Steve Meyer. “I was pleased with our defense, run game and execution, except for holding on to the ball too long in the outfield. Napa has really improved. It was a fun game.”
Justin-Siena (7-5, 4-4 VVAL) will take on Casa Grande in Petaluma on Wednesday. Napa (1-9, 0-9 VVAL) travels to Rancho Cotate on Monday for a nonleague game. Both games start at 4 p.m.
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