Vintage takes final girls basketball Big Game to put themselves one win away from MEL title

By Kyle Foster, photos courtesy of Don Lex (

Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive

It’s always hard to beat your rival on the road — the Vintage girls basketball team accomplished that feat Friday night when they beat rival Napa 39-31, and completed the Big Game sweep.

“Well you guys saw it, we just got done talking about the relentless pursuit of your goals and that’s what the relentless pursuit of your goals looks like,” Vintage coach Joe Donahoe said of beating their crosstown rival twice on the season. “Sometimes it’s not pretty, sometimes it’s not perfect, but it is relentless.”  

“It’s like the best feeling ever, like knowing how much we’ve accomplished this season, so it’s great,” Vintage junior Nicole Gleeson happily explained of sweeping Napa.

At the start of the game the Indians (10-15 overall, 4-5 Monticello Empire League) jumped on the visiting Crushers (17-9, 7-2 MEL).

“We weren’t handling the ball super well, fumbling it a little bit down low,” Ward said of what went wrong after gaining a early lead. “Felt like the calls hurt us, not that they were bad calls they just hurt us. We had Sienna out, we had Breck out, we had Carly out all in the first half, so that hurts us because they’re really good players, but everyone who came in did a really good job. At the end in the second half I felt like we had a lot of shots go in and out.”    

“You always know you’ve got to weather it,” Donahoe explained of Napa’s fast start. “I’ve got more respect for Darci’s program than I can even put into words, she does a great job and we’re just trying to get better everyday and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

It was a night where points were at a premium, and each team had trouble pulling away.

“We’ve played a lot of games in the 30s this year, so I don’t mind it,” Donahoe added on the low-scoring game. “Our goal everynight is to hold the other team to single-digits.”

Kate Ilsley led Vintage in the night — she had 12 points while bringing in 14 rebounds. Alyssa Andrews added nine points and six rebounds. Gleeson also pitched in eight points most of which on a fast break, while adding five rebounds.

“Yeah, she’s a dynamic athlete,” Donahoe said of Gleeson’s effort. “It was a game where you had to be a certain kind of player to be in there, Napa plays tough defense, and you gotta be strong with the ball for the most part we weathered the storms. We’d draw something up and it’d work and then we couldn’t quite get back to it because they’d made an adjustment, but overall we win by playing harder defense as the game goes on and that’s been the recipe for whatever it is now, we have 17 wins or however many wins we have.”     

Napa was led by Carly Johnson on the evening. She had ten points and four rebounds. Sienna Young added eight points with four boards. In her final home game and Big Game Malia Blackmon scored six points and grabbed two rebounds, at the end of the game she had many shots go halfway down and bounce out.

“Wasn’t my night for shooting but that’s ok,” Blackmon explained of a night when she could have scored more points.

The regular season will conclude Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Napa will visit Wood-Vacaville. Vintage will host Armijo-Fairfield where with a win they’ll either be MEL champions or co-MEL champions with Wood and Rodriguez. It’s been a long time since Vintage hasn’t won a league title in girls basketball for 33 years.



Kyle Foster

Hello I'm Kyle Foster. I'm the the main sportswriter for Napa Sports Association, you can reach me at with story ideas. Follow my Twitter @NapaKyle for game updates!

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