Nicole Gleeson of Vintage High School and Napa’s Carly Johnson and Maizy Armstrong-Brown are no longer opponents from rival schools in basketball.
They are now teammates.
The three players recently tried out and were selected to play on the Under Armour U-17 UA Rise showcase girls basketball team, which is based out of Marin County and led by Zach Borello, the varsity girls coach at Branson School-Ross.
There are eight players on the Under Armour U-17 UA Rise showcase team, which is run through the North Bay Basketball Academy and plays its first tournament, the JBS West Coast Spring Challenge, at Bradshaw Christian High School in Sacramento this weekend. Game times for Saturday are 1:20 and 5:40 p.m. Game times for Sunday are to be announced.
Under Armour U-17 UA Rise plays in its first NCAA viewing tournament on April 27 and 28 in Walnut Creek at an invitational event.
“It’s fun to have two of my closest friends to play with now,” said Gleeson, a 5-foot-10 senior who was the Defensive Player of the Year on this year’s All-Napa County team. “Playing with them, we have a lot of chemistry. It’s a really good benefit to have.
“When you’re on a team like this, everyone is competing at a high level. It’s a lot of fun.”
Players from Petaluma High, Marin Catholic-Kentfield, Redwood-Larkspur, Sonoma Academy-Santa Rosa and San Domenico-San Anselmo are also on the North Bay team, which will play throughout the spring and summer, around the Bay Area and also in Seattle, Indianapolis and Atlanta. The season concludes in late July.
“Nicole and I have always wanted to play together,” said Johnson, a 5-foot-5 junior point guard-shooting guard, who was a finalist for Player of the Year on the All-Napa County team. “We thought we’d never be able to play together, since she’s graduating. But now we get to play together.”
Under Armour U-17 UA Rise practices twice a week, at different schools in Marin County.
Borello said it’s a high-profile schedule as Under Armour U-17 UA Rise is part of the Under Armour Rise circuit. Several of the events are listed as NCAA viewing periods.
“I’m very excited to see the team play this weekend and start our tournament schedule,” Borello said. “Our tournament schedule is a high-level national schedule, playing tournaments in Washington, Indianapolis and Georgia. I have high expectations for this team and the girls and it’s my goal to have girls playing at the highest level and playing great in front of college coaches all spring and summer.
“We are going to play fast and aggressive and should be a fun pace to play at. I’m anxious for this weekend.”
Under Armour U-17 UA Rise is part of the 2019 UAA Girls Basketball Circuit, as announced by Under Armour and Under Armour Association.
Armstrong-Brown, a 5-foot-5 sophomore, was a finalist for Newcomer of the Year on the All-Napa County team.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity, because I’ve always played with people that are older than me,” said Armstrong-Brown. “Carly and Nicole have always helped me out and have helped me develop in my basketball career. I’ve always liked the way Nicole has played and I’ve always looked up to her. It feels really good to play with both of them.
“I feel like we have great talent. It’s going to be a really good season for all of us.”
Vintage (20-8 overall, 11-1 Vine Valley Athletic League) won the league title and lost in the first round of the CIF North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs, falling to San Ramon Valley-Danville in February, 57-41.
Napa (15-12 overall, 6-6 VVAL) did not advance to the playoffs.
“It’s definitely going to be a great experience, all of us playing together,” said Armstrong-Brown. “I just love the sport. I love the way it feels to just hold that ball in your hands. It’s very exciting to play.”
Gleeson averaged 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 4.2 steals per game as a shooting guard, point guard and post player for Vintage. Gleeson had 111 steals and 41 blocks overall and was also named as the VVAL Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-VVAL.
Gleeson, who scored 564 points in her career at Vintage, wants to play basketball in college.
“Getting all of this exposure brings up your confidence, being able to play in front of these college coaches,” she said. “It’s good experience. It gets you to see what you’re going to be playing against in college.”
Gleeson and Alyssa Andrews were honored as co-Players of the Year at Vintage.
Johnson received first-team All-VVAL honors after averaging 10.3 points, 4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
“This is a good opportunity, to get the exposure and the experience to play at a higher level,” said Johnson. “It just pushes you to do better. I really want to play after I graduate high school.”
Armstrong-Brown, a point guard, was named All-VVAL honorable mention.