Winter sports are under way at Justin-Siena High School, which plays in the Vine Valley Athletic League. There is boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, and wrestling.
A look at each team:
Justin-Siena is off to a 2-2 start, with wins over Terra Linda-San Rafael (50-23) and St. Vincent-Petaluma (42-40), and losses to Marin Catholic-Kentfield (50-34) and Tamalpais-Mill Valley (44-38).
“Our team has looked good so far,” coach Andy Bettencourt said. “We have an interesting mix of experienced varsity players with younger players in their first varsity experience. The team has done a great job of helping our younger players adapt to the varsity level. We continue to get better at every practice.
“We are really enjoying coaching this team. They have a great sense of team and have brought an attitude to learn and get better every day. We have a really incredible group of 10 young ladies and are excited to go through this season with them.”
The Braves participated in a few summer tournaments, including the one that it hosts, the Wine Valley Summer Jam.
“Our expectations are to compete every single night that we step on the floor and to get better every day,” said Bettencourt.
Ashlee Whittemore, a guard who was the Player of the Year on the 2017-18 All-Napa County team, leads a group of seven returners. Whittemore led the Braves (13-14 overall, 7-7 Marin County Athletic League) to a tie for fifth place in the league and into the CIF North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs last year. She scored 511 points and averaged 18.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game.
“Ashlee has been awesome so far this season, not just as a player, but as a leader of this team. She is an incredible player and an even better kid,” said Bettencourt, who is assisted by Tim Malloy and Haley Cremen.
Kiran Monteverdi (guard), Ella Thatcher (guard), Mikhaela Cepeda (guard), Grace Walter (center), Karlie Wells (forward), and Lexi Rosenbrand (forward) are also returners.
Alyssa Curtola (guard), Sarah Reynolds (guard) and Isabella Wright (forward) are key newcomers to the team.
Cremen starred in basketball at Justin-Siena and was a three-time All-Napa County Player of the Year. Cremen was also a four-year player at Chico State.
First-year coach Dave Granucci has the Braves off to a 3-1 start. After a season-opening loss to Marin Catholic-Kentfield (72-52), the Braves have won three in a row, beating El Molino-Forestville (52-37), Vacaville Christian (53-36), and Richmond (54-45).
“Things have been going well,” said Granucci. “We have a great group of guys that are committed to each other. They are focused on improving each and every day. Great time to be a Brave.”
Granucci left Saint Martin’s University of Lacey, Washington, where he was the associate head men’s basketball coach the last two years, to take the head coaching position at Justin-Siena in June.
The Braves played in a summer league at Napa Valley College and had workouts four days a week.
Justin-Siena (10-16 overall) finished in ninth place in the Marin County Athletic League standings at 3-11 and did not qualify for the MCAL tournament during the 2017-18 season.
The Braves’ season ended with a 50-38 loss to Piedmont in the first round of the CIF North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs in February.
Saint Martin’s was 17-13 during Granucci’s first season. The Saints went 25-8 and lost to Western Oregon, 77-55, in the second round of the NCAA Division II West Region Tournament last year.
Granucci was the head coach at the College of Marin in Kentfield from 2012-15, leading the Mariners to a 57-26 record and the 2015 Bay Valley Conference title. He was the Bay Valley Coach of the Year in 2015. Marin finished No. 6 in the state’s 2015 poll.
He was an assistant coach from 2009-12 at the College of Marin.
He was an assistant during the 2015-16 season at San Francisco State, as the Gators went 16-11.
He was an assistant at City College of San Francisco from 2006-09.
Granucci played basketball at Sir Francis Drake High School-San Anselmo, City College of San Francisco and San Jose State. He played professional basketball in Italy for Viola Basket Reggio Calabria.
Barrett Donohoe (guard), Liam McDevitt (guard), Kevin Galvin (guard), Landon Mispagel (forward), Jadyn Satten (forward), Keith Binz (guard), Casey Potrebic (guard), and Dominic Moore (guard) are the returners from last year.
Solomone Anitoni (guard), Shane Rosenthal (guard), Zach Johnson (guard), Zach Keefer (forward), Tyler Charifa (guard), and Wyatt Humphries (forward) are the key newcomers to the varsity.
“The guys have been working really hard. It’s a great group to coach,” said Granucci, who is assisted by John Nessman, Matt Uffmann and Eli Granata.
Justin-Siena is led by three returning CIF North Coast Section qualifiers: Tommy Lopez, JP Negueloua and Jacob Guiducci.
Syohei Harr, Nathan Lowenstein, Sebastian Medina, Nico Minardos, Anthony Fannin and Trace Cosgrove also return for the Braves.
Cooper Cohee, a regional- and national-level experienced wrestler from the Napa Sheriff’s Activities League, leads a group of newcomers.
Caden Parlett, Zachary Zurowski, Miles Martin, Cole Chatagnier, Estrellita Gil and Yahaira Martinez are also new to the program.
“Our key is building confidence with such a youthful team, which has been the norm here for us,” said coach Jason Guiducci, who is assisted by Jesse Ward and Rob Cohee.
The Braves have competed at WrestleMania in Petaluma, against Sacred Heart-San Francisco, and at the annual La Sallian Cup Dual.
“This past summer we had a few wrestlers take ownership over their careers like never before. Three wrestlers, JP Negueloua, Trace Cosgrove and Nico Minardos, attended the Stanford University Wrestling Camp, while Minardos also trained at the Oklahoma State Wrestling Camp,” said Jason Guiducci.
Jacob Guiducci traveled to Colorado Springs for a week-long training camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Justin-Siena is led by 12 returners: Jordan Bowman Davis (defender), Aidan Dolinar (goalie), Arturo Fernandez (forward), Chris Gutierrez (forward), Josiah Gutierrez (midfielder), Antonio Hernandez (goalie), William Melancon (defender), Daniel Suacedo (midfielder), Nicholas Zeiter (midfielder), Jacob Smith (midfielder), Jose Antonio del Carmen (midfielder), and Ramiro Cendejas (midfielder).
“We will have a physical team that is organized and dedicated to show order inside the field,” said coach Felipe Nieto, who is assisted by Eric Gutierrez. “I expect this team to improve from previous years and rebuild a new soccer program at Justin-Siena.
“Expect to see lots of energy and dedication. We are taking this year as a first step towards building a solid soccer program.”
The Braves are led by nine returners: Adrianna Delgadillo (attacker), Lauren Flaherty (defender), Isabella Galambos (defender), Caroline Melancon (midfielder), Adilene Padilla-Gonzalez (attacker), Natalie Schiefferly (winger/defender), Presley Schultz (midfielder/attacker), Sophia Van Duzer (goal keeper/defender), and Mikaela Zeiter (defender).
Jillian Fischer (midfielder/defender), Esmeralda Herrera (attacker/defender), Anjali Monteverdi (attacker), Tessa Salvestrin (attacker), Fernanda Sosa (attacker/midfielder), and Jocelyn Stojack (goal keeper) are also on the team.
“Our players had a solid preseason and are excited and ready to play,” said coach Eric Branagan-Franco, who is assisted by Belinda Halloran (associate head coach) and Sarah Treweek.
“We have a high number of seniors this year who we hope will take ownership and lead our younger freshmen on the team. We are excited to see what the younger players will provide this season. As head coach, I want to continue to develop from the past two seasons and our focus will be having a consistent level of play throughout each game.
“We expect the girls to play hard in every game; however, we also expect them to learn and grow as soccer players and play with a distinct style of play.”