PREP BASKETBALL: A look at NU, FLC and Bear River as they battle through league play
So often in sports it’s not how a team starts a season, but how it finishes it that defines them.
After strong runs through non-league and tourney play, local high school hoops teams are currently battling their way through their respective league slates with varying degrees of success. Some have been dominant against their league foes, others are still trying to find their stride.
With less than a month left in the regular season and league play heating up, we take a look at what each team has done so far and what they face down the stretch.
FOREST LAKE CHISTIAN
LADY FALCONS (11-5, 4-0)
After a 7-5 run against a tough list of non-league opponents, the girls hoops team at Forest Lake Christian was well prepared for Central Valley California League play.
Under the leadership of first year head coach Valerie Horner, an FLC grad and former player, the Lady Falcons are 4-0 against league opponents, with blowout victories over Sacramento Waldorf, Woodland Christian, Victory Christian and Foresthill.
The Lady Falcons are a perennial playoff team having reached the postseason in 11 of the last 13 seasons, but they haven’t won a league title since 2008. If they continue their torrid run through league play they may be hanging a league championship banner once again.
IMPACT PLAYERS: The Lady Falcons are led by senior forward Johnna Dreschler (14.8 points per game, 16.4 rebounds), and sophomore guard Amber Jackson (12.2 points per game, 4.4 steals per game).
BIG GAMES: Despite a 29-point victory over Woodland Christian (15-3, 3-1 CVCL) the first time around, the Cardinals seem to be the only obstacle in the Lady Falcons path to a league title. FLC will travel to face Woodland Christian on Feb. 2. The Lady Falcons close the regular season with back-to-back games, hosting Foresthill Feb. 13 and traveling to Delta Feb. 14.
LADY MINERS (11-8, 1-4)
The Lady Miners enjoyed a strong run through non-league and tourney play, winning 10 of their 14 games along the way. But, in the mighty Sierra Foothill League, wins are much harder to come by.
Nevada Union stumbled out of the gates in league play, dropping three straight SFL bouts before snapping that skid on Tuesday with a dominant win over Rocklin. The winning streak didn’t last long though as NU was blown out by Granite Bay Friday night to drop to 1-4 in SFL play.
The Lady Miners are one of several teams that will be battling for the four automatic playoff bids allotted to the SFL. Even if NU doesn’t finish in the top-four, there is still a possibility of an at-large playoff bid. Nevada Union made the playoffs last season with an at-large bid after finishing sixth in the league standings.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Nevada Union is powered by front court players Meadow Aragon, who leads the team in points per game and rebounds, and Greta Kramer, who is second on the team in points per game.
BIG GAMES: A three-game stretch in early February will loom large for the Lady Miners. NU gets Woodcreek and Granite Bay at home Feb. 6 and Feb. 9 respectively and then heads out to Rocklin Feb. 12. Wins in those games will go a long way in helping the Lady Miners reach the playoffs for a second straight season.
LADY BRUINS (13-5, 1-2)
The Lady Bruins grabbed a trio of tourney titles on their way to a 12-3 record in non-league and tourney play.
Things are much tougher in the Pioneer Valley League though and Bear River dropped its first two games, falling to Foothill and Placer by large margins. The Lady Bruins rebounded nicely though with a 56-47 victory over Center Friday night.
Bear River has a lot to contend with in the PVL as Colfax, Placer and Foothill all boast strong teams this season. The PVL gets three automatic playoff bids and those will be hotly contested.
IMPACT PLAYERS: The Lady Bruins are led by a strong trio of seniors in Mallory Rath (10.9 points per game, 14.1 rebounds per game), Katelyn Meylor (15.4 points per game, five steals per game) and Kylee Dresbach-Hill (10.2 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game).
BIG GAMES: With Foothill, Placer and Colfax looking like the clear cut favorites, the Lady Bruins will need to take care of business against the rest of their league opponents. Games against Lincoln (on the road Jan. 24 and at home Feb. 8) and Center (at home Feb. 6) are must wins, and an upset against one of the top three would also go a long way in getting the Lady Bruins to the playoffs.
FOREST LAKE CHRISTIAN FALCONS (6-10, 2-1)
The Falcons tested themselves in non-league play, facing multiple teams from higher divisions in preparation. It has paid off so far as Forest Lake Christian has won two of their first three CVCL contests. The Falcons knocked off Woodland Christian (64-41) and Victory Christian (52-49). Their only league loss came in a tightly contested bout with Sac Waldorf (44-42).
FLC is a young but tight-knit team, consisting of seven sophomores and one senior. They have a bright future ahead of them, but don’t seem to be waiting for success to come later as they have hopes of winning a league title this season.
IMPACT PLAYERS: FLC is led by sophomore guard Luke Gilliland, sophomore guard Simon Blackburn, sophomore forward J.R. Molloy, sophomore guard Ben McDonald and senior Gavin Holmer.
BIG GAMES: The Falcons have tough road games at Sac Waldorf (Jan. 26) and Victory Christian (Feb. 6) as well as a critical home game against Foresthill (Feb. 13).
NEVADA UNION MINERS (6-14, 0-5)
The Miners are in the midst of their final run through the SFL and are still in search of their first league win in 2018 after losses to Folsom, Del Oro, Woodcreek, Rocklin and Granite Bay.
With early season injuries and a relatively young roster, the Miners have struggled this year. But with the strength of schedule that comes with playing in the PVL, a few wins down the stretch could garner an at-large bid to the playoffs.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Nevada Union is led by senior guard Jack Fraser, sophomore guard Justin Gardner, junior forward Dawson Fay and senior guard Hayden Fay.
BIG GAMES: The Miners best chances at league wins will come on the road at Woodcreek (Feb. 6) and at home against Granite Bay (Feb. 9) and Rocklin (Feb. 12).
BEAR RIVER BRUINS (8-10, 0-3)
After an 8-7 run through its non-league and tourney schedule, the Bear River boys basketball team has hit a rough patch, going 0-3 in PVL play.
The Bruins struggled in blowout losses to Colfax and Placer, but battled Center closely before falling 64-58 on Thursday.
There is still plenty of time to make a run at the playoffs, but the Bruins will need to pull off some upsets along the way.
IMPACT PLAYERS: The Bruins are led by senior Clay Corippo and a talented group of young players in sophomore Brekyn Vasquez, sophomore Brad Smith, junior Garrett Pratt, junior Calder Kunde and sophomore Justin Powell.
BIG GAMES: Bear River has upcoming home games against Lincoln (Jan. 23), Colfax (Feb. 2) and Foothill (Feb.14).
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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