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NVC Men's Basketball Team Loses Home Opener to Redwoods

Photo courtesy of Don Lex, LuckyDuckImages.com
Photo courtesy of Don Lex, LuckyDuckImages.com

NVC men's basketball team loses home opener to Redwoods

Photo courtesy of Don Lex, LuckyDuckImages.com

By MARTY JAMES

martyjames.sports@gmail.com

Braxton Adderly scored 15 points and Brandon Radu added 13 points, but the Napa Valley College men's basketball team lost its home opener, falling Thursday night to College of the Redwoods (Eureka), 68-57, in a nonconference game.

Napa Valley (0-3 overall) trailed at halftime 31-26, but battled back early in the second half, tying the game twice, 38-38 on a free throw by Radu with 15:51 to go and again at 46-46 on a shot off an offensive rebound by Jaivon Williams with 10:40 to go.

Napa Valley pulled to within three points, 56-53, on a three-pointer by Chance Farrell-Martin.

Redwoods (5-2 overall) dressed nine players for the game. Four players, led by Isaac Puzz with 20 points, scored in double figures for Redwoods, which plays in the Golden Valley Conference.

Napa Valley opened the 2019-2020 season at the Cabrillo Tip-Off, losing nonconference games to host Cabrillo, 82-63, and Shasta (Redding), 64-57, in Aptos, Nov. 1-2.

Adderly, Zach Swim, Brian Green, Shakir Howard and Saleem Ali-Musa started for Napa Valley in the game against Redwoods.

"That's a good Redwoods team," NVC coach Steve Ball said. "They are solid. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They make a lot of shots. And tonight we were on the flip side of that. We made a lot of mistakes and we didn't make a lot of shots. (Redwoods') alertness paid off for them and we weren't very alert."

Napa Valley was hurt by turnovers early on in the game, but still had leads of 14-10, capping a 7-0 run, and 17-14.

Redwoods went on a 7-0 run, giving the Corsairs a 29-20 lead.

Napa Valley came back, trimming the Redwoods lead to five points, 29-24.

"We gave some effort. I like that. I like that, defensively, in the first half, at least, we kept them to 31," said Ball.

Napa Valley, with 10 freshmen on the roster, was led by Adderly, who also had five rebounds, and Radu, who led the Storm's comeback with a 7-0 run early in the second half.

Radu played at Redwood High School (Larkspur), averaging 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.4 assists per game as the Giants (24-9 overall, 13-3 Marin County Athletic League) reached the CIF North Coast Section Division II playoffs and the CIF State Division III playoffs.

"He finishes really well and he shoots really well," said Ball. "He just needs some weight. He just needs to get stronger. It's just his strength. His pace on his passing isn't where it needs to be and a lot of that has to do with strength. Some of it has to do with realizing how fast the windows close at this level."

Howard scored nine points, Farrell-Martin had seven points, Ali-Musa had six points and four rebounds, Green had 11 rebounds, Swim had seven rebounds, and Jaivon Williams had four rebounds for Napa Valley.

Ball expressed his concerns about the number of turnovers.

"It's the carelessness with the basketball that's got to be fixed," he said. "We've got to make quicker decisions. It seems we're overthinking a lot of things and not making timely decisions and the decisions we make, we don't put enough pace on the ball with our passes. We just we have way too many turnovers and you can't live like that when you shoot, especially when you shoot as poorly from the 3 as we did tonight."

Thomas Nelson scored 14 points, Drew Gillette had 11 points, Donald Willis 10 points and Bradley Willis seven points for Redwoods. The Corsairs had wins over San Jose City, Foothill (Los Altos Hills), Monterey Peninsula and American River (Sacramento) coming into the game. Their losses were to College of Marin (Kentfield) and De Anza (Cupertino).

"I know we battled back and competed really hard and defended. I would like to see us finish doing that," said Ball. "I get a little discouraged when guys hit shots and we are still trying to figure things out on the fly, you know having conversations about who's man that was right now. Everybody should know where the hole was in the scramble and we don't do that yet."

NVC threw some different defenses at Redwoods.

"Defensively, we tried to switch things up a little bit, and just play harder," said Ball. "But we just haven't quite grasped the concept of scrambling and ending up switching defensively. We do it on the ball really well. But when it's the next pass to the next pass, we don't anticipate where that next pass is going. So then it's a reaction instead of an anticipation.

"We were picking up full court, mostly trapping a little bit out of it at times, at opportune times. And then we were supposed to be able to scramble a little bit better on the backside of it. But with that takes effort and communication. I think we had effort, but we didn't have a whole lot of communication on it. So that's why you'd see some open looks that guys got."

Adderly and Ali-Musa are two of the Storm's top returning players. Adderly averaged 10.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1 steal per game last year. Ali-Musa averaged 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year.

"Hopefully (Adderly) got a little fire lit under him. He started the first two games and didn't play exceptionally well. He played a little better defensively tonight, jumped in some passing lanes and caused some turnovers," said Ball. "Braxton's the guy that we can count on. We know we can count on him.

"We thought we could count on Saleem for a little more tonight. But they just kept packing the paint so much it was hard to get him anything until they went man."

Napa Valley continues its season when it plays in the Bakersfield Extravaganza, Nov. 22-23, at Bakersfield College. Napa Valley faces Cerro Coso (Ridgecrest) on Nov. 22 and meets Bakersfield on Nov. 23.

The Storm will play its next home game on Nov. 27 against Skyline (San Bruno).

* Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association, Associated Press Sports Editors, and California Prep Sports Media Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September of 2019.