After a rough road trip to San Diego that saw the Nevada Union boys basketball team drop four straight games, the Miners are happy to be back at home.
In the friendly confines of Albert Ali Gymnasium Wednesday night, the Miners (6-10) took down the Oakmont Vikings (3-8), 66-58, making it four straight at home and 5-2 overall on their own court.
NU’s home record is something NU head coach Jeff Dellis said he is proud of and that it is an ingredient of a team that has league title aspirations.
“As we approach league, one of the things I always tell kids is, ‘If you take care of business at home and split on the road, you put yourself in position to win a league title,’” said Dellis. “Oakmont is very much a (Sierra Foothill League) type team. They were in the SFL for a long time. Their scores against other SFL teams are comparable to this, so it should bode well for us and give us some confidence”
With only one game left before the Miners open the Sierra Foothill League season, it was important for NU to wash out the bad taste left by the Mt. Carmel Holiday Hoops Tournament that saw the Miners go 0-4 with three losses by eight or more points.
Against the Vikings, it was the Miners defense that set the tone early. In the first quarter alone, NU forced seven Oakmont turnovers and allowed just six points. In the first half, the Miners forced 13 Viking turnovers and allowed only 18 points. NU forced 25 turnovers on the night.
Senior guard Cody Gardner was instrumental in the Miners’ fierce defensive attack, leading the team with six steals, including three in the fourth quarter.
The Miners never trailed in the game and held leads as large as 15, but the Vikings made a late push in the fourth sparked by Dominic Marrero. The speedy point guard hit a 3-pointer and followed it with a steal and fast-break bucket to pull the game to within three at 58-55 with 2:45 left. Marrero finished with 30 points, including three 3-pointers.
“They’re a team that has a lightning-quick point guard, and he hurt us,” Dellis said.
With the momentum beginning to shift, it was NU’s Gardner and Lucas Vojak who grabbed it back. Gardner pushed the lead to five with a strong take through several defenders, and Vojak got an offensive rebound and a put-back on the Miners’ next possession to push the lead to seven with a little over a minute to play. Gardner and Vojak hit a combined 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
“I’m proud of them,” Gardner said of his teammates’ defensive effort. “They stepped up, and we came home with the win. We’re hustling and stepping up as we get ready for the league season.”
Vojak led all NU scorers with 20 points, including a power slam that got the crowd going in the third. Gardner finished the night with 18 points, a team-high seven rebounds and six steals.
The Miners got strong play from several players with Sean Zuccaro scoring eight, Jason Mickel with seven points and four rebounds, McKay Ritchie adding five points and four assists and Elliot Fournier with six points, five rebounds and four assists.
“I thought Elliot had a great game,” Dellis said. “I think Elliot had his best game of the season. He had to play the post some, he had to play the two some, he played the point some, he was all over the floor, and he adjusted as well as I have seen him adjust. He made those adjustments seamlessly.”
The Miners have one more non-league game before the SFL opens, taking on Yuba City at 7 p.m. today at Albert Ali Gymnasium.
JV: Oakmont 52,
Nevada Union 46
The Miners dropped to 9-7 overall as they fell to the Vikings by six points.
NU trailed by six at the half and played Oakmont to a draw in the second half as it never could get closer than five in the fourth quarter.
Leading the Miner offense was Daniel Carter with 11, Lukas Sweigart added 10, and Trevor Humpherys had nine.
NU faces Yuba City today at home in its final tune-up before SFL play begins.
Freshmen: Nevada Union 62, Oakmont 37
The Miners continue to impress as they downed the Vikings by 25 points.
NU got 16 points from Chance Brown to lead the offense. Jahn Chensee added 15, and stellar defense from Kross Corbett contributed to the big win.
The Miners will host Yuba City today at Albert Ali Gymnasium.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org