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Napa Valley Up & Comers: Wright, Leal Ruiz, Curry have sights set high for junior seasons
Up & Comers

Napa Valley Up & Comers: Wright, Leal Ruiz, Curry have sights set high for junior seasons

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With the 2019-2020 school year in our rear-view mirror, The Register sports staff has turned its attention to the Napa County student-athletes that are returning to play sports in 2020-21.

Per announcements from the California Interscholastic Federation and North Coast Section in late July, the fall season for high school sports in the 2020-21 school year is now scheduled to begin in December and January with the rest of the sports slated to start in February and March to help stop the community spread of the coronavirus.

With that in mind, we continue our Up & Comers series, which highlights rising stars and players to watch for when their long waits are finally over.

Our 38th edition features Isabella Wright of Justin-Siena, Landon Leal Ruiz of Vintage and Khai Curry of American Canyon.

Isabella Wright

School: Justin-Siena

Class of: 2022

Sports: Basketball, swim and dive

In just her second high school season, Wright was a leading force for the Braves varsity basketball team.

The 5-foot-10 sophomore averaged team-highs of 8.2 points and 7 rebounds per game for Justin-Siena, which went 7-19 overall and 3-9 in the Vine Valley Athletic League in a rebuilding year. Wright, who was a second-team All-VVAL selection and was named the County Girls Basketball Newcomer of the Year for the 2018-19 season, once again earned second-team honors and was one of five finalists for the County Girls Basketball Player of the Year award this past season.

Among her standout performances last winter, Wright had 16 points and 9 rebounds in an upset of second-place Petaluma. She also scored in double digits six times and recorded two double-doubles.

“Bella brings a great motor and effort to every single game,” head coach Andy Bettencourt said. “She rebounds at a high level and can score really well around the rim. We look forward to her continuing to improve as her career progresses.”

As Wright improves and continues to patrol the paint, the Braves should be a competitive team in the VVAL for the next couple years.

Wright also competed for the Braves swim and dive team her freshman year and swam in the 100 backstroke, 200 IM and 200 free relay. 

Landon Leal Ruiz

School: Vintage

Class of: 2022

Sports: Soccer

After years of honing his skills with the Napa Soccer Academy, Leal Ruiz has successfully adapted to the high school varsity level in a short amount of time.

The center midfielder led the Crushers JV team in scoring his freshman year and was then an impact player for varsity this past season. He was second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and chipped in 6 assists for the league champion Crushers.

Vintage went 17-4 overall and 11-1 in the VVAL and advanced to the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

Individually, Leal Ruiz was also a first-team All-VVAL selection and was named the County Boys Soccer Newcomer of the Year for his efforts this past season. According to his coaches, he came up big in close games, scoring winning goals against San Ramon Valley, Casa Grande, Petaluma and Napa High.

“He was an expert on free kicks and set pieces and,” co-coach Javier Covarrubias said. “His vision, work rate, and tenacity in the middle of the field many times set the tone and control of the game.”

As one of four returning all-league players for Vintage, Leal Ruiz should only continue to get better for a Crushers team that should only continue to win games and compete for league and section titles.

Khai Curry

School: American Canyon

Class of: 2022

Sports: Basketball

The incoming junior wing has been a key member of the Wolves varsity teams the past two years.

As a freshman, he brought energy, defense and shooting to the table as a role player primarily off the bench. He showed throughout the season he belonged at the varsity level and eventually helped lead the Wolves to a dramatic win over Casa Grande in the VVAL Tournament in the 2018-19 season.

Curry scored 9 points, all on three-pointers, in the fourth quarter of that game to spur American Canyon to the 67-57 win. For his efforts that season, Curry was a finalist for the County Boys Basketball Newcomer of the Year award.

This past year, Curry stepped into a larger role and handled it like a true veteran. As one of the team’s primary defenders, he would routinely match up against opponent’s best players. He was a finalist for the County Boys Basketball Defensive Player of the Year award and averaged 7.6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.9 steals per game in the seven games of recorded stats from the 2019-20 season.

With star guard Oliver Aandahl now graduated, players like Curry and Gabe Patrick will headline the Wolves teams this year and next.

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Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at gmorris@napanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris. 

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Sports Reporter

Gus Morris covers St. Helena and Calistoga sports for the Napa Valley Register. Before joining the Register in 2018, he covered collegiate sports for the student publication at the University of Oregon.

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