PREP BASKETBALL: A look at how boys teams from NU, Bear River and FLC have fared so far and what awaits them in league play
The high school basketball season tipped off 50 days ago and in that time local teams have duked it out with squads from all over the state and beyond, testing their ability, developing team-chemistry and working on their shortcomings.
Now that the non-league and tourney portion of the season is in the rear-view mirror (for the most part) we take a look at how the boys teams from Nevada Union, Bear River and Forest Lake Christian have fared so far, and what awaits them in league play.
NEVADA UNION MINERS
So far: The Miners are 6-12 after a busy non-league stretch. The road has been long and difficult for NU, which played just four of their first 18 games at home. Of those 18 games, 12 have been against teams with winning records. The Miners also had their fare share of tight games early on with eight being decided by six points or less. NU went 4-4 in those contests.
By the numbers: Defensively the Miners have held opponents to less than 50 points on eight different occasions, and allowed more than 60 points just four times. On the season, they allowing 52.3 points per game. Offensively, they average 46.6 points per game.
“We’re not scoring the ball particularly well,” said head coach Mark Casey. “But the good news is our defense is getting better each game and It’s keeping us in everything. We’ve been really happy about our defensive effort. We’ve been holding some pretty good teams in the 40s, the problem is we’re scoring in the low 40s and in a few cases in the high 30s. So if we can rectify the scoring thing a little bit, some good things will happen.”
Team leaders: NU’s top scorer and rebounder is sophomore forward Milo Goehring, who is averaging 17.6 points per game to go with 8.9 rebounds. Senior guard Charles Wilcoxen is the Miners’ second leading scorer with just under 10 points per game. They also have a skilled senior point guard in Aidan Keros, and get strong play from senior guard Riley Cotton and junior guard Eli Jones.
“(Goehring) is basically a walking double-double as a sophomore,” said Casey. “(Keros) just makes us go. We’re pretty much lost without him steering the ship.”
What lies ahead: The Miners tip off league play next Tuesday against the Placer Hillmen, who shared the 2019 league title with Ponderosa a season ago. League foes Ponderosa (10-7), Lincoln (13-5) and Oakmont (11-2) all have winning records in non-league action. Rio Linda (5-6) and Placer (6-11) join NU as FVL teams with losing records at this point in the season.
A little background: A season ago, the Miners went 12-16 overall and 5-5 in FVL play, including a win against eventual co-champ Ponderosa. The last time NU won a league title was 2006 when they claimed the Metro League championship. The last playoff appearance for the Miners came in 2016, after they finished fourth in the SFL.
“We feel like this thing is wide open,” Casey said of league play. “This year there is no team that’s way out in front of the pack. But, there aren’t any nights off either. We have one way into the playoffs and that’s to win in league. It’ll take great defense and we’re going to have to be better on the offensive side.”
BEAR RIVER BRUINS
So far: The Bruins were 4-10 heading into Thursday night’s non-league finale against Encina Prep. Three of their four wins came at the Ganskie Invitational when they beat Western Sierra, Forest lake Christian and Golden Sierra to win the tourney title. Their other win came against Mesa Verde in the season opener.
By the numbers: Bear River has the ability to put up points in bunches. The Bruins average 61.8 points per game, and have scored more than 90 points in a game twice this season. They’ve been held to less than 50 points on just four occasions. Defensively, they are allowing 62.1 points per game.
Team leaders: The Bruins have lots of varsity experience in their lineup as they returned several key players from last season’s squad. Senior guard Justin Powell is a talented scorer, who can catch fire from deep and light up the scoreboard. Senior forward Brad Smith is a force in the paint and can also hit from downtown. Senior guard Brekyn Vasquez is a high energy player with a solid all-around skill set. Senior point guard Caleb Lowry is a quality facilitator and can also put up big numbers in the points column.
“We have the potential to play some good basketball this year,” said head coach Ralph Lewis. “(I look forward to) seniors having success.”
What lies ahead: Pioneer Valley League play tips off for the Bruins next Tuesday on the road against Foothill. The Bruins and Mustangs split their league bouts last year. Only one PVL team has emerged from non-league play with a winning record, that being Marysville at 10-8. Foothill (7-9), Colfax (6-9).
Center (6-10) and Lindhurst (4-7) all have losing records at this point of the season.
A little background: The Bruins went 6-4 and tied with Foothill for third place in league play a season ago. Center won the PVL title in 2019 with Marysville placing second. The last time Bear River won the league banner was in 2009, when the Bruins shared the PVL title with Whitney.
“As long as we keep progressing steadily throughout the season our team has great potential this season,” said Lowry. “The schedule we have played has been very tough and playing these big schools has been hard, but it is preparing us for the future.”
FOREST LAKE CHRISTIAN
So far: The Falcons are off to a 7-9 start, and that includes a 2-1 mark in Central Valley California League play, which tipped off a little earlier than most other leagues. Of their 16 games this season, seven have come against teams with a record .500 or better. They are 1-6 in those games, and 6-3 against teams with sub .500 records.
By the numbers: As a team, the Falcons are scoring 51.3 points per game, while allowing 59.1 overall. Things have been much closer since league play started. The Falcons are averaging 55.3 points per game and allowing 54.6 across their three CVCL contests.
Team leaders: Guards Luke Gilliland and Simon Blackburn are the team’s senior leaders. Gilliland is a proficient scorer now in his fourth year at the varsity level. Blackburn is a skilled point guard in his third full season on the varsity team. Gilliland leads the team with around 19 points per game. Blackburn is averaging around 11 per game.
“Luke and Simon are my captains and leaders of this team,” said FLC head coach Derek Gilliland. “Their leadership is imperative to our success … If they play well, get others involved, we will win games.”
FLC also has standout players in Luke Stokes, Teddy Jones and David Shumakker as well.
What lies ahead: The Falcons will look to go 3-1 in league play tonight when they host Foresthill, a team that is 14-3 overall and 3-0 in CVCL bouts. Foresthill, Sac Waldorf (12-6) and Delta (5-4) are the only teams in the CVCL with winning records as of Thursday. Woodland Christian (7-8), Victory Christian (6-6), Futures (5-11) and Encina Prep (0-7) are all .500 or worse.
“I’ve been around the last 10, 11 years and this is probably the most even I’ve seen this league, from top to bottom,” said Derek Gilliland. “I believe anybody at any time can win in this league. I’m excited. I think we can finish right near the top, if not the top.”
A little background: Last season, the Falcons went 15-13 overall and 8-6 in CVCL play, finishing in a tie for third place with Woodland Christian. Sac Waldorf won the CVCL banner with an 11-3 league mark and Futures was second at 9-5 in league play. The Falcons have finished with a winning record in league play the past three seasons, but haven’t won the league title since 2015.
“Chemistry,” said Derek Gilliland, of what he likes most about his team. “We have great chemistry, all 10 of them. From sophomores up to the seniors. Thats probably our biggest strength.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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