Title goes to Falcons for sixth straight year
For the sixth consecutive year, the Forest Lake Christian junior varsity boys basketball team won the Central Valley Christian League title. This season, the Falcons finished with a 22-5 overall record with a 13-1 CVCL record.
“The team chemistry was unbelievable in terms of jelling,” coach Phil Costantini said. “Also the speed coming up from this team was incredible and I let the guys have a run-and-gun style of offense, where they hit the outlet and got down the floor. I think the team averaged 67 points per game this season.”
Team standout was freshman Andrew Ritchart, a 6-foot, 3-inch player who was moved up to the varsity squad during the playoffs and played key minutes in the first-round upset win against Turlock Christian.
Ritchart, a captain, led the team in scoring with 19 points per game. Freshman guard Ben Sparling added 16 points per game while Luke Ziegenmeyer was the team’s leading rebounder.
The Falcons counted on freshman point guard Austin Maynard to break down presses while Tanner Colacuccio, a sophomore captain, was the team’s defensive specialist, tallying 6.3 steals per game. The team’s third captain was freshman Zach Rose.
The Nevada Union JV boys team finished 10-15 this season with a 2-8 Metro Conference record, beating McClatchy and Yuba City.
“It was not necessarily a good year on paper, but it was the hardest working bunch I have been around in years,” coach Dale Latimer said. “The players had a lot of character and a lot of class.”
Captains of the team were sophomores Brian Jackson and Chad Mason. Jackson, along with fellow sophomores Cody Curtis and Dylan Davis led the team in scoring.
Latimer highlighted three games in which his Miners played extremely well.
The first was the team’s 55-48 win against Placer in the Kendall Arnett Tournament. In another tournament, this time the Chico Pleasant Valley Tournament, the Miners won a 51-49 thriller against Red Bluff to win the tournament’s consolation championship.
The final game was a 54-48 win against Yuba City, Jan. 25, in which 6-5 freshman forward Zach Spencer racked up 22 points.
Season wrap-up information for the Bear River JV team was not made available to The Union.
Two of the area’s junior varsity girls teams finished undefeated in league play to give fans a sneak peak at what the future of Bear River and Forest Lake Christian girls basketball programs will look like.
The Bear River JV team finished 20-4 overall and a perfect 12-0 in the Pioneer Valley League, winning its final 15 games of the season.
“If you look at our scoring leaders we had eight players within two points of each other,” coach David Pistone said. “The girls exemplified the idea of playing as a team.”
Katie Thompson led the team with 7.7 points per game, 3.6 steals per game and 2.2 assists per game in addition to contributing 5.3 rebounds per game. Genevieve Spears led the team in rebounding with 7.6 per game while chipping in 5.2 points per game. Nicole Grebe put up 5.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Guards Erin Noud and Shannon Dayton contributed at least two assists and six points per game.
Forest Lake Christian
The Forest Lake JV team also went undefeated in league play, compiling a 24-2 overall record and a 14-0 record in the Central Valley Christian League.
“All of our players were very talented and came together as a well-balanced team,” coach Steve Huusfeldt said. “We also had three very solid post players.”
Freshmen post players Teresa Reed and Bethany Huusfeldt led the team in scoring while Huusfeldt also led the team in rebounding. The team’s other low post presence was sophomore Becca Koopman, who spent some time on the varsity squad at the beginning of the season.
The Falcons relied on point guard and team captain Shelby Lowe, a sophomore, to break down presses while they looked to another sophomore captain, Julie Moore, to hit three-pointers.
In addition to Moore, Kelsea Yates shined as a three-point shooter.
The Nevada Union JV team finished just two games shy of a .500 record with a 9-11 overall record, but did finish an even 5-5 in Metro Conference play.
“It was a young group this year with five freshmen on the team,” coach Wayne Brummund said. “They were a pretty hard working group, but struggled with their shooting. The players did, however, improve so much in ball handling that by the end of the season, teams couldn’t really pressure us.”
Freshman Maria Viola led the team with nearly 10 points and six rebounds per game. Fellow freshman Christian Woodruff turned in one of the best games of the season, grabbing 22 rebounds against Bear River.
Brummund highlighted two away games at Granite Bay and Yuba City as games to remember from the season.
Against Yuba City, Emily Ryan went to the line making one free throw, missing the second and grabbing her own rebound to get fouled again. She then made both free throws to win the game 43-42.
In a similar scenario, with the Miners down by two points with three seconds remaining against Yuba City, Viola was fouled and made both free throws. She then stole the inbound pass and was fouled and made two more free throws to win the game 46-44.
The Bear River freshman girls team finished 16-6 overall and 8-2 in the Pioneer Valley League.
“They were a fun group of girls and had a real desire to play basketball,” coach Debbie Schaffner said. “They were always ready to play and eager to learn. During close games they always came through and played (hard) the entire game.”
Jasmine McGown and Ariel Miller led the team in scoring with 6.1 and 6.2 points, respectively. Miller also led the team in rebounding while McGown’s speed made her the team leader in steals along with Rachel Jones.
Point guard Brittany Lawton and wing Stephanie Ursiny were the team captains.
Schaffner recalls the first Colfax game of the season as the most memorable when the Bruins were down by one point at halftime and ended up winning by three points.
Bear River boys
The Bear River freshman boys team’s season was marked by a serious of unfortunate injuries to key players throughout the year.
After beginning PVL play at 4-0, starting center Brian Fry broke his leg and two games later another starter, guard Josh Zlacket, suffered a broken arm. The Bruins finished 6-6 in the PVL and 10-13 overall.
The team standout was Garret Smith who led the team in points, rebounds, steals and free throw percentage.
“Overall it was a great team, with lots of hustling to make a good season,” coach Dick Werntz said. “The kids came a long way.”
Nevada Union boys
Switching gears to Nevada Union – the freshman boys team finished the season with a winning record of 13-11, going 6-6 in Metro Conference play.
“It was a physical group of kids who really bonded into a team the second half of the season,” coach Gene Smith said. “Near the end of the season we had a different star any night, making us a hard team to defend. We also had great free throw shooting.”
Troy Britton, a captain, led the team in scoring with 10 points a game while Nick Cancilla and Kemp Stanford chipped in seven and six points per game, respectively. The other team captain, Michael Saturnino, along with Britton, led the team in rebounding with nearly seven per game.
Smith highlighted two memorable games as the Dec. 30 contest against Rio Americano in the Oak Ridge Tournament and the first game against Yuba City. Against Rio Americano, the Miners found themselves down by 24 points and came back to win 45-44.
In the Yuba City game, the Miners were down by 21 points in the third quarter and came back to win 36-32.
“The kids really had a never-say-die attitude,” Smith said.
Nevada Union girls
Nevada Union’s freshman girls team also finished with a winning record, ending the season 12-11 and 4-6 in league play.
“As far as a team goes, these were outstanding ladies,” coach Kate Dudley said. “Where do you even start to describe them? The losses were all close games and within our power to win. It was also a learning experience for the girls having never played together before, coming in from seven feeder schools and learning to play together.”
Six-foot center Kristen Dahle shined for the Miners, leading the team with 13.0 points and more than 14 rebounds per game. Dahle was named the team’s overall MVP while post Kayla Allen was named the offensive MVP after averaging 11 points per game.
Earning the defensive player of the year honor was Brittany McManus, who Dudley describes as tenacious and always diving on the floor to get a loose ball. Dudley also praised the play of Paige Prentice and Emily Lohmeyer, a player who had never played basketball before.
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Golfers Jackie Hill and Bonnie Marvelli teamed up to take top honors in the 2021 Partners Best Ball Championship of the Nevada County Country Club Women’s Golf Group.