By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
Resume builder types of wins are key as the the playoffs approach, the Napa Valley College men’s basketball team got one of those wins by beating Contra Costa 84-70.
“Those are .500 wins, so now we’ve beaten those two (Contra Costa) twice, Cañada (Redwood City) once, Mendocino (Ukiah) once, and Los Medanos (Pittsburg) once and all of those teams are all teams above .500,” Napa Valley College coach Steve Ball explained of his teams quality wins on the season. “When you’re talking about getting into the playoffs, having that kind of a resume, also finishing the way we’re finishing, hopefully we can finish up with a win on Friday. Winning 80% of your games for the last month and a half, two months is a good thing as well.”
Early on in the game Napa Valley (15-11 overall, 11-4 Bay Valley Conference) jumped out to a 15-point lead but ended the half up 11. In the second half on multiple occasions the Comets (14-12, 8-7 BVC) cut the lead to three points. Throughout the season NVC has had double-digit leads, and let them go.
“Yeah, you know I’m starting to believe that part of it is us, but part of it is some of the teams we’re playing are pretty good teams,” Ball explained of how good teams have clawed their way back in games this season. “I’d like to think that we can continue to pummel a team in the way we start, but we’re playing some good teams and eventually they’re going to make some plays too and unfortunately sometimes it’s as we’re unravelling and not making plays, we kinda compound those things, we need to pick a side to not be good on and just stick to that side and then still continue to do well on the other side of the ball.”
“Our biggest thing is we have a hard time staying efficient, defensively, offensively but when we’re actually playing good together everything just flows naturally, so we just have to make sure that we’re on the same page all the time,” Napa Valley College sophomore guard Akeem Dear said of how the early lead evaporated. “We just have to make sure we’re on the same page all time, and that’s where the difficulty comes.”
Late in the second half with the Storm up by three sophomore Akeem Dear hit a few three-pointers to give NVC a more comfortable lead.
“Around that time I always feel like I’m the most confident, when I feel like I’m needed and once I hit it my energy kinda transfers over so I’ve got confidence in myself,” Dear explained of the crucial buckets he hit to open up NVC’s lead. “It gave me the opportunity to transfer my energy to others and it kinda picked up, that’s how we ended up going on that run I believe.”
“He got two nice open looks, the guys found him,” Ball added on the crucial three-pointers Dear hit late in the game. “We’ve been trying to tell them that we’re not playing favorites or anything with Sasha (French), guys get open shots when the ball goes into Sasha, because three defenders go to look at him, so now you just move without the ball and Akeem was the beneficiary of a couple of those late in the game.”
Napa Valley was led by three double-digit scorers on the evening. Armani Mills had 19 points and a rebound. After Mills fouled out Amancho Adopo and Dear picked up the slack. Adopo ended the evening with 16 points and five rebounds, while Dear scored 11 points and brought in seven rebounds.
“We have a whole bunch of talent on this team and it depends who steps up every night, Armani’s pretty consistent, but when he’s not we need somebody to step up everyday,” Dear said of how him and Adopo stepped up when it was needed most. “We have guys who know how to play basketball, who have good experience playing basketball, so it’s just on us to step up and do that and I think we found that equation to do that every night .”
“Armani had a great first half, it would’ve been nice if he could’ve stuck around a little longer, but unfortunately he got in some foul trouble and couldn’t control his emotions and got whacked (with a technical) as he was getting subbed out,” Ball said of Mills good night that was cut short early in the second half. “Something you don’t need to do and he’s going to learn he’s young, he’s only a freshman, he’s going to learn how to control his emotions. Passion is good, emotion is not.”
It was also sophomore night where Napa Valley’s seven sophomores were honored for all the work they’ve done of the basketball program.
“Could be their final home game, they’re a great group of young men,” Ball said of his seven sophomores. “They’ve given a lot to the program, and we really appreciate what they’ve done.”
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Dear said of winning on sophomore night. “Napa has shown me a lot, given me a lot, blessed me with a lot. Coach ball he’s taught me a lot of things that’s made me the man I am right now and I’m thankful for Napa, I’m thankful we can win our last home game at Napa, so it’s a great feeling winning this game today.”
Up next for NVC is the season finale at Marin-Kentfield Friday at 5:30 p.m. On January 17th the Storm squeaked away with a 60-56 win.
“I think it was a three or four point game,” Ball said of the January 17th meeting with Marin. “We didn’t shoot the ball well that night, so hopefully we’ll do a better job with that and finish this thing off in the regular season and roll into the playoffs.”
It’s been 20 years since the Napa Valley College men’s basketball program has made the CCCAA playoffs.