By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
The Bay Valley Conference is very deep in men’s basketball this season — that showed Wednesday night when first-place Napa Valley College beat last-place College of Marin in a low-scoring game 60-56.
“On paper it’s the first-place team against the last-place team, that’s not a last-place team,” Napa Valley College coach Steve Ball said of how the Mariners (2-14 overall, 1-7 BVC) don’t play like the bottom dweller in the conference. “Those guys are tough, they’ve got some ball players on that team, coach (Scott) Tom does a great job with them, really gets them executing, defending, they listen to a scouting report, and sometimes he gets frustrated, we all do as coaches when they don’t but tonight they sure did. They’re just tough man, they’ve got Eric (Mireri) who just does a great job there, Derek (Morgan) does a great job, their two bigs are hard to guard, they’ve got a couple guys who can shoot the ball also, it’s a tough matchup for them I’m not looking forward to the second time we play them at their place.”
Each of the Storm’s home games so far this season has been very close. Wednesday was the first day back to class for NVC, but Ball, and Fons don’t seem to think that had anything to do with how close the game was.
“Our home games, sometimes we get a lead, and we just lose it, and we need to work on our defense, and just be composed, but we should fix it by next week,” Fons explained of the blown leads on their home court this season.
“It is tough, because the other guys are college basketball players also, and they work hard,” Ball said of how the home games have been close. “On any given night, we’ve played some tough teams, our conference has the most teams over .500 in the preseason of any conference in Northern California, so top to bottom there’s some depth, and we have to continue to grind. To be honest 8-1 at the halfway point, I’m ecstatic about that, if we can repeat that, and or go 9-0 in the second half there’s no reason we shouldn’t feel like we can’t beat every team, but we still need to go out, and play every game, and every possession like it matters. Sometimes we let down a little bit, and it’s hard to compete for that long as long as we’re asking the guys to do, so I get it, but I still think we can do a better job with that.”
It wasn’t the normal game scoring wise for the Storm (11-8, 8-1 BVC). They only had two players in double-digits on the evening, but they had six players score seven points or more. Napa Valley was led by Armani Mills who had 15 points — Sasha French added 11 points, and 11 rebounds.
“Armani hit a couple shots early, Sasha’s going to do his dirt on the block, and on the offensive glass,” Ball said of the two leading scorers on the night. “Joe struggled a little bit. We say struggle, but I think we had six guys with seven points or more. I thought Armani made a really smart play down the stretch instead of going in for a layup, he milked a little bit more clock, and let the game calm down, and relax, go to the free throw line shooting 80%, and knock them down.”
“Armani, he’s a very good shooter, he can shoot from anywhere, he can get to the basket, he’s a very good all-around player, Sasha of course, you know big Sash, he can get his buckets inside, he can shoot from outside as well,” Fons said of his teammates that led the way scorting on the night. “He (French) needs to get more fouls called underneath, because I’ve seen three fouls down low at least just in this game, but we don’t really pay attention to the refs, we just play our game, and those two did very well.”
Fons led Napa Valley in rebounding inhaling a whopping 14 rebounds on the evening, while pitching in seven points on the night.
“I was just being aggressive, I just wanted every rebound,” Fons explained of his good night on the boards. “I saw that they had about a 6’7” dude, another 6’7” dude, a 6’9” dude, I knew that we had to get some kind of rebounds, so I just did my thing.”
“Joe always gives us such great energy in practice, in games, racking the basketballs, putting the jerseys downstairs, like Joe does literally everything we ask of him,” Ball said of how big of a team contributor Fons is. “We love him, and he gives us everything he has.He maximizes what he has.”
Up next for the Storm is a rematch with Merritt-Oakland next Wednesday at 5:30 P.M. NVC won the previous meeting against Merritt on December 20th.
“That week off should help us a lot, just to recuperate, have a good week of practice, just more focused, more energy,” Fons added on the week the Storm will have off before their next game. “Should be fun next week.”
“Very competitive game, right after we beat them here they went down and won a tournament in Southern California, we must’ve lit a fire, and angered them up a little bit, because they’ve really been playing some good basketball as of late,” Ball explained of Merritt.