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Panther Hoops (Jan 13, 2016)

The 2015-2016 High School basketball season has begun. The Anderson Valley junior varsity and varsity boy’s basketball teams are both two games deep into the season with pre-season being a success for both teams. The first game was against Potter Valley High School in Potter Valley on January 6th. The JV’s game against Potter was definitely a great morale booster for the players on the team. Carlos Garibay was the leading scorer for AV with 10 points followed by Isaac Sanchez with 9 points and Kevin Alarcon with 6. As tip-off took place and the clock started winding down in the first quarter, the AV JV boys played a well fought quarter against Potter Valley outscoring them 13-3, with Isaac Sanchez scoring 7 points out of those 13. In the next quarter, the two teams were both fighting for the ball continuously going back and forth as the passing wasn’t that great and the shots weren’t dropping for either team. Kevin Alacron surprised everyone in the crowd and Coach Espinoza with his abilities on the court that night. Also a pleasant surprise was Caleb Devine-Gomes who made a 3-pointer as his first points of the season during the second quarter. As the second quarter came to a close and half-time rolled around, Anderson Valley led Potter Valley 22-10. During the third quarter, Carlos Garibay dominated under the hoop scoring 8 points. The JV boys only allowed Potter Valley to score 4 points in the third quarter because of their well executed defensive plays. At the end of the third quarter, AV was still leading the game 36-14. The final eight minutes of the game was at hand and Potter Valley put up a great fight against AV. Potter scored 10 points in the fourth quarter while AV only scored 7. At the end of the game, Anderson Valley came out on top beating Potter Valley 43 to 24. Every player on the Junior Varsity team for AV gave their all on the court as they went into the game.

Next up was the Anderson Valley Boys Varsity. The first quarter for the Varsity boys was explosive. The team scored 22 points in the quarter with Abraham Sanchez and Erin Perez both scoring two 3-pointers. Cesar Soto facilitated the ball around the court making sure that the open man gets an open shot. The team only allowed Potter Valley’s Varsity team to score 4 points in the first quarter as AV held possession for most of the quarter. The second quarter came around and Potter Valley put up a harder fight inside the paint with the center for their team not allowing any rebounds to be missed. At the end of the second quarter Anderson Valley still out scored Potter Valley 19 to 16. The half-time score was 41 to 20 with AV in the lead. The third quarter was another explosive quarter for AV scoring another 22 points as a team, with Tony Pardini scoring 6 points out of the 22. Towards the end of the quarter the second string of the Varsity team played. In the fourth quarter, none of the starters for Anderson Valley played as Coach Espinoza had the second string players play the remaining eight minutes of the game in preparation for Mendocino two days later. Although the team only scored 2 points that quarter, the team held possession for most of the eight minutes and Potter Valley scored 12 points. AV was also able to have Joshua Chavez score his first points of the season as well. As the game drew to a close the Anderson Valley Panthers beat the Potter Valley Bearcats 65 to 47.  Every player on the Varsity team was able to play on the court this game as well and give 100% every time they set foot on the court. Abraham Sanchez was the top scorer for Anderson Valley with 15 points followed by Cesar Soto with 10 and Jared Johnston with 9. Bring on the Cardinals. (Written by a junior staff member)

I had forgotten many of the specifics for the Potter Valley game and directed a junior staff member to complete the first portion of the article.  I figured I should save my typing time for the Friday night series of games being played against league rival Mendocino.  There are 7 teams in the NCL III basketball league, many experts and non experts have predicted the road to the championship goes through AV and Mendocino. I will add I believe Highway 162 (Covelo) will play a large part into whether either team has a chance at the league title.

Friday night, 5pm, if games were won during warm-ups, the AV JV boys would have lost the game the minute the 6-4 freshmen phenom center for Mendocino stepped onto the floor.  To the Panthers credit, the AV “big” (size is relative) men didn’t blink an eye. The Mendo JV boys who appear to be transitioning with a new coach, look to be “mini-me’s” of their varsity counterparts.  It looked like AV’s plan to keep Mendo’s big man in check was to double team him every time he touched the ball.  That worked for the 1st quarter with an 8-8 tie.  AV made a concerted effort to drive to the hoop the entire game to try and put the 7 man team in foul trouble early, which worked.  AV JV’s ended the half down by 2 points, 19-17 but only having gone 4-14 from the free throw line.  The 3rd quarter the offense picked up with big man Carlos Garibay hitting two key 3 pointers and AV’s run and gun offense tiring out Mendocino’s big man.  In the 4th quarter with two starters fouled out for Mendocino, AV held them to 2 points with the final score of 42-28.  Looking at the score book, AV had a horrible free throw shooting night, leaving 23 points on the charity stripe (10-33).

The following day, Saturday, the JV participated in a three game round robin in Point Arena, losing a close game to PA 45-53.  For the second time in 24 hours they beat Mendocino (44-42) and then went on to a rematch with Potter Valley where every single player played equal minutes and won 46-42.  The Point Arena JV’s look to be the team to beat for the NCL III league title.  Of note:  JT Carlin earned All-League honors which could have been shared by Ulises Garcia, Carlos Garibay and Isaac Sanchez.

Bring on the Varsity match!

There’s no love lost between either team on the floor.  In the past couple of years it has been a contentious relationship, where Mendocino has had the upper hand.  In a repeat from last year’s preseason schedule, Anderson Valley lost to Mendocino in a tournament, going on to sweep Mendocino where it counted in League play.  The first game of the series was expected to be an indicator of whether this year might repeat itself.  As the Varsity boys made it onto the floor for pre-game warm-ups, this reporter noticed they were all wearing matching shoes.  I later learned that the Panthers biggest fan, Robert Mailer Anderson, had spent the previous week beating up on the young Panthers and reliving his time on the brown/gold court.  In an effort to further team cohesion, Mr. Anderson provided the generous gift of basketball shoes to the entire varsity squad which is GREATLY appreciated and in the pre-game talk Rob’s parting words “Go hard or go home” were to punctuate this night.

Anderson Valley went hard.  Panther boys jumped to a 9-0 lead off of quick shots from Abraham Sanchez, Erin Perez and big man Alejandro Soto.  First quarter ended with AV up 16-11.  The second quarter had big man Alejandro Soto in foul trouble limiting his playing time which allowed Mendocino to take advantage and ended with Mendo up 26-23.  The short manned Mendo players looked tired walking into the locker room at halftime, while AV had yet to go deep into their bench.  The atypical low scoring first half showed that this night’s game was going to be a defensive effort.  Mendo came out in the second half and within the first 30 seconds scored 2 points to make the score 28-23.  After a turnover on the next AV possession and a shooting foul on Mendocino where they hit 1 of 2 freethrows, Mendocino led 29-23.  Then something incredible happened, Mendocino did not score again until the 4th quarter, while AV dropped 17 points, going into the 4th quarter with a 40-29 point lead.  Mendocino made runs to try and get back into the game and outscored AV 16-12 in the 4th, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Panther defenders and Anderson Valley finished the game with a final score of 52-45.

Based on watching the AV team and comparing them to last years League Champions, the boys appear to have matured, are more well rounded and are definitely more physical than recent Panther squads.

The next game, Tuesday January 12th pits the AV Panthers against the Round Valley Mustangs, a good 3 point shooting team that has the potential for an upset.  On 1/15, AV travels to Laytonville where the spirited Warriors will be waiting for the defending champs to arrive.

That’s all for now, I look forward to seeing another packed house like last Friday.  And in the words of Sir Charles Barkley (thanks to RMA) “The meek may inherit the earth, but they won’t get the ball.”

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