Basketball season is upon us! The weather gets colder, playoff football comes, and the majority of the athletes move inside for basketball. Foundation games tip off on Tuesday night.
Vine Valley Athletic League
The new league that has three Sonoma County Schools in it. Petaluma, Casa Grande, and Sonoma Valley. Since this is the inaugural year of the league, there is no defending league champion. None of the teams in the VVAL won their old league last year. Vintage and Napa were in the Sac-Joaquin Section last year and competed in the Monticello Empire League. They struggled in the MEL with teams like Vacaville and Wood being perennial powerhouses. American Canyon also comes from the Sac-Joaquin Section, but they competed in the Solano County Athletic Conference (SCAC) last year. They finished second only to Vanden, who went 10-0 in that league last year. Justin Siena is coming up from the MCAL, where they struggled against the likes of Marin Catholic, Drake, Redwood, etc. Casa Grande is coming from the NBL, where they too struggled the past few years. Petaluma and Sonoma Valley come from the now vanquished Sonoma County League. Every single VVAL team tips off their season on Saturday November 24th. Call it opening day, high school hoops addition.
Most of the teams in the VVAL will be young. Petaluma will be carrying 4 sophomores on their roster, with Esteban Bermudez and Eric Perez, brother of Petaluma legend Ryan Perez, with the ability to start this season. This, with a nice combination of veterans like Robbie Isetta and Kenny Alexander could make Petaluma very competitive this year. Petaluma tips off their season at San Marin
Casa Grande returns three year veterans Garrett Siebels and Noah Bailey. Casa Grande head coach Jake Lee has other options with Tiju Grant, Scott Nave and Rasheed Nixon. The Gauchos travel north to face Maria Carrillo to open the season.
Sonoma Valley returns a tough team with guys like Tyler Garrett and sharp shooter Jack Boydell. Sonoma goes to Santa Rosa to take on old SCL foe and now NBL-Oak opponent Piner.
Vintage returns Imani Lopez and Jared Rendon who did a bulk of the scoring for the Crushers last year. Vintage hosts Deer Valley in their opening game of the season.
Napa has a very young team, with only three seniors. They have a pair of sophomores in Brock Bowers and Brayden Greenlee. The Grizzlies host Armijo in to start off the season.
For Justin-Siena, Liam McDevitt, who was a captain as a sophomore last year, will be a leader for the Braves. Justin Siena also takes on a former league opponent. The will travel to Kentfield to play MCAL power Marin Catholic.
Games to watch:
1/4: Vintage @ Petaluma. This will be an early factor of who has a leg up in the VVAL.
1/9: Vintage @ Napa. The big game, hoops style. This is a huge rivalry game in the new league. We will see here if Napa’s young team will be able to step up on a big safe.
1/11: Casa Grande @ Petaluma. Another big rivalry game and like Napa, Petaluma will need to have their young stars step up and push the Trojans over the Gauchos. Casa has an experience advantage which could be a factor.
1/14: American Canyon @ Sonoma Valley: A very big game in VVAL play. If the Wolves get it done, it could put them in the driver’s seat, but also could be said about the Dragons of Sonoma.
1/16: Sonoma Valley @ Petaluma. Last year, these two teams tangled in two very contentious games, in which in one there was a fight, and prompted two ejections. Petaluma and Sonoma Valley have always been rivals based on proximity, but it will be far more intense this time around.
North Bay League – Oak
The Oak division of the NBL should be very tough. Cardinal Newman, Montgomery, Piner, and Windsor all have the ability to win this league. Question is, who will be the ones hoisting the NBL-Oak banner? Let’s break down the league right now. Four NBL-Oak teams tip off their season on Saturday November 24th.
Windsor won the NBL last year, but lost their two best players in Riley and Justin Smith. The Jaguars also have a new coach after Travis Taylor stepped down after last season. Jared Greginger. He coached the Healdsburg JV’s the past few years. His first game as head coach will be at a familiar place, Healdsburg next Saturday.
Analy returns JJ Fain and Quinn Vermeulen. They also have a new coach, Jason Carpenter, who led the Tiger JV’s the past couple seasons. Analy hosts Ukiah, who got thier only win of the year last season over the Tigers. That game will also be next Saturday.
Piner is hoping Scott Erickson is healthy to keep the Prospectors competitive in the NBL-Oak. Piner was very young last year with only two seniors last year. Adonis Gutierrez and Naod Yohannes will be key for them for their success. The Prospectors host VVAL opponent Sonoma Valley on next Saturday.
Cardinal Newman returns Nate Capurro and Chauncey Leberthon from their 21-7 squad last season. They already have a key win over VVAL foe Napa, 75-64.
Montgomery has Harvey Rouleau, Eli Camarillo and Tyson Timko coming back. Zac Tiedeman team will be tough once again in the NBL-Oak. The Vikings will be defense oriented and not allow any easy buckets for opposing teams. Their first contest will be in the Russ Petrich classic at Montgomery November 29th.
Andre Gaudreau and Emilio Campos cap off the key returners for the Santa Rosa Panthers. Madison Lott enters his second season at the helm for the NBL school. The Panthers will host Napa on November 27th.
Games to watch:
1/3: Montgomery @ Windsor. The two top teams in the NBL last year battle it out early in the year for the head start.
1/8: Piner @ Cardinal Newman. A huge game early in the league season. This could be an early indicator on who will be the favorite in the NBL-Oak
1/16: Montgomery @ Cardinal Newman. The first version of the rivalry tips off. These two teams play last, so they will also have the final game of the season on 2/1.
North Bay League – Redwood
Healdsburg, reigning champions of the Sonoma County League should be the dominant team in the NBL-Redwood. Trey Chapman, and Dylan Hayman will mark off key returners for the Greyhounds. Last year, they ran through the SCL, going 12-0, with their closest game being a one point win over Petaluma.
Elsie Allen has a new coach in Will Garza and they hope to change the culture of the Lobos. With a new league, Elsie Allen will be playing more competitive opponents. The Lobos travel to Piner on Monday to open their season.
El Molino has a new coach as well in Collin Walker. They, too hope to change the culture up in Forestville and keep competitive in every game this season. The Lions were scheduled to play at Willits today, but no confirmation if that game was still on due to the poor air quality.
Ukiah won their first game of the season last year over Analy, but struggled the rest of the way. They host their annual Fred Iten tournament at the end of the month.
Justin Loggins heads up the Maria Carrillo Pumas this season. Carson Jones and Garrett Jepson will be some big players for the Pumas.
After a few rough years, Rancho Cotate has been steadily improving. Connor Barbato is back, after averaging 15 points a game last season. Rancho hopes to be a challenger to Healdsburg this season. They open the season next Saturday at Tennyson.
Games to watch:
1/3: Rancho Cotate @ Elsie Allen. Two teams hoping to have a big turnaround after sub par seasons last year will go head to head.
1/25: Maria Carrillo @ Elsie Allen. This could be a game for second place and who would get a home game in the NBL-Redwood tournament.
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