Napa High defended its home court in the first boys basketball Big Game of the year Wednesday night, knocking off crosstown rival Vintage 64-56 behind a pair of double-doubles from senior Zach Swim and sophomore Brock Bowers.
The Grizzlies improved to 11-5 overall and 3-0 in Vine Valley Athletic League play, while Vintage sank to 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the VVAL standings.
“It always feels really good to beat Vintage,” said Napa head coach Zack Cook. “All our players know their players. They’ve grown up together and played sports together, so it’s a really fun rivalry.”
Swim put up 13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists while Bowers one-upped him with a nearly identical stat line of 13 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.
“We came in here knowing it would be tight because it’s Big Game,” Bowers said. “It can go either way with the crowd.”
Bowers led a trio of productive underclassmen for the Grizzlies, who also got solid performances from freshman Tyler Oda (four points, four assists, one rebound) and sophomore Brayden Greenlee (11 points).
While Bowers and Oda are starters for Napa, it was Greenlee who gave the team the spark it needed to pull away in this one.
Ahead 28-23 at halftime, the Grizzlies pushed their lead to 50-37 at the end of the third quarter after Greenlee did his best Klay Thompson impression, nailing three straight catch-and-shoot treys as he scored all 11 of his points across a four-minute span.
“That was awesome,” Cook said of Greenlee’s scorching third quarter. “That really pushed us over the top. He’s been in a real slump for three, four games and it was great to see him break out of that slump in such a big game.”
To boot, all three of Greenlee’s deep shots came off second-chance points.
Considering that the Crushers lost by just eight points, this may teach them a positive lesson about crashing the glass in the long run.
“It just came down to little mistakes adding up to big things,” Vintage head coach Rob Johnson said. “These kids think about this all year. They say, ‘I need to score this or do this,’ but then they forget the little things.”
The Crushers actually boasted both of the game’s top scorers in senior Grant Polk (17 points, eight rebounds) and junior Blake Murray (14 points, four rebounds).
Murray made the play of the game in the third quarter when he grabbed a steal and rumbled into the lane to dunk over a helpless Napa defender. The emphatic slam brought all Vintage fans in attendance to their feet, but any momentum from the play was lost thereafter as the Crushers trailed by double-digits until the final seconds of regulation.
Vintage will look to snap its three-game losing streak on Friday night when it faces Sonoma Valley at home. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will put a four-game winning streak to the test when they square up with the only other undefeated VVAL team – American Canyon.
Vintage JV 51, Napa 28
Alex Dehzad had 16 points Josh Kho and Everett Mitchell each added 10 as the Crushers improved to 2-2 in the VVAL and 8-5 overall.
“This was our best defensive effort so far this season,” Vintage coach Ben Goodman said. “The kids are starting to play well together and being very coachable. Napa plays very hard and it is always is fun to play them.”
Vintage Freshmen 49, Napa 17
The visiting Crushers (8-3, 3-1 VVAL) outscored the Grizzlies 29-8 in the second half by generating turnovers and keeping Napa off balance.
Vintage had 11 players score, led by Dustin Wyman’s 10 points and Cole Capitani’s eight points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Mitchell scored six, and Omar Hernandez, Liam Alexander and Bryce Powers each had four points.
The Grizzlies (1-11, 0-2 VVAL) were led by Andrew Remboldt's nine points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks, and the defense of Ross Cringan.