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NVC men’s basketball falls to Skyline in overtime, 72-71

NVC men’s basketball falls to Skyline in overtime, 72-71

NVC men's basketball falls to Skyline in overtime, 72-71

Photo courtesy of Don Lex, LuckyDuckImages.com

By MARTY JAMES

martyjames.sports@gmail.com

There were a number of positives that came out of the Napa Valley College men's basketball team's latest nonconference game, a 72-71 loss at home to Skyline College-San Bruno on Wednesday night.

There was the way in which the Storm took care of the ball. Averaging 25 turnovers per game through its first five games of the season, they reduced that number to a season-low 16.

There was the way in which the Storm started out the game, bolting out to as much as a 15-point lead at 25-10, 27-12 and 30-15.

There was the spectacular shot that Braxton Adderly hit with just 0.9 left on the clock that tied the game, sending it into overtime.

There was the surge that Napa Valley showed in overtime, as the Storm went ahead 64-62, 67-64, 69-66 and 71-68.

There was also the strong all-around play of Saleem Ali-Musa, who led the Storm with 21 points, along with Adderly, who had 20 points, and Brandon Radu, who had 17 points.

"I definitely want us to continue to compete like that," NVC head coach Steve Ball said. "We just have lapses where we give up 7-0 runs because we fall asleep mentally. It would be lovely to have the excuse of saying, 'Oh, well, they're freshmen.' We just lost to (12) freshmen, one sophomore. So (Skyline's) in the same situation as we are, but they didn't have a lapse.

"Our guys compete, definitely. You've got to win basketball games."

It was the second home game of the 2019-2020 season for Napa Valley (0-6 overall), which is still looking for its first win. There are 10 freshmen and four sophomores on the NVC roster.

"I think there's always something that you can pull away from every game. I would like to pull a win away from one of the games," said Ball.

Napa Valley lost both of its games at the Bakersfield Extravaganza, falling on Nov. 22 to Cerro Coso (Ridgecrest), 84-67, and dropping an 85-62 decision to Bakersfield College on Nov. 23. 

Both games were at the Gil Bishop Sports Center.

"They are starting to understand what we're teaching and we're starting to understand things a lot better," said Ball. "I hope that we can continue to keep our turnover totals down and continue to do a good job on the glass. We get extra possessions if we can get some more offensive rebounds like we're capable of doing, if we take better care of the basketball and not trying to force some passes too often.

"We're not playing against a pressing team really, but a lot of them are self-inflicted unforced turnovers, where we're just trying to force the ball into a space that is not going to fit."

Ali-Musa also had nine rebounds and a blocked shot. Adderly had three 3-point shots. Radu had two 3-pointers and six rebounds. Jaivon Williams scored six points, all on 3-pointers.

Brian Green scored four points. Zach Swim had five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Chance Martin-Farrell had five assists. 

"The game came down to one possession," Ball pointed out. "It could have been that last possession. It could have been those free throws at the end. It could have been any one of those. It could have been the missed box-out with three minutes to go in the first half. It could have been a forced pass with five minutes left in the first half. It could have been any one of those plays.

"So the importance, the gravity of each possession, is what I hope that we get out of this – how important each possession is, because the game comes down to two or three possessions, and you don't know which one it is. That's what we need to get out of this."

Skyline cut into Napa Valley's lead, finishing the first half on a 6-0 run and trailing 33-25 at halftime.

Skyline (5-2 overall), a member of the Coast-North Conference, began the second half on a 9-0 run to go in front 34-33, in a back and forth game.

A free throw by Noah Haynesworth with 10.9 remaining gave Skyline a 60-58 lead.

Adderly's game-tying basket came on a runner.

"They played hard. It's unfortunate," said Ball. "There are only two columns. There's no moral victory column at this level. We need to get in the lab more and we need to do more work."

Napa Valley missed two free throws with 10.7 seconds to go in overtime.

Elijah Flowers had the game-winning basket for Skyline, which has won three in a row.

Adderly missed a three-point attempt as time expired.

Skyline was led by Colby Vasquez with 24 points, Haynesworth and Flowers each with 13 points, and Jacob Shab with seven points.

Napa Valley was 14-of-18 from the free-throw line. Skyline was 16-of-24.

"I feel like there were some guys that weren't ready to play tonight. So we kind of shortened that rotation there a little bit," said Ball.

The Storm was ahead in the second half, 47-45, 50-48, 52-50 and 56-54.

Two free throws by Adderly pulled NVC within one point, 59-58, with 11.8 seconds left.

Haynesworth's free throw with 10.9 to go gave Skyline a two-point edge, 60-58.

Meanwhile, in the game against Cerro Coso, the Storm was led by Adderly (31 points on 12-of-21 shooting, seven rebounds), Radu (eight points, four rebounds), Swim (seven points, six rebounds, two assists), Shakir Howard (seven points, six rebounds, two blocks), Green (four points, 10 rebounds), Ali-Musa (four points, eight rebounds), Williams (six points, three rebounds), Farrell (four rebounds, two assists), and Dakota Macias (two rebounds).

NVC was 21-of-52 from the floor, 4-of-13 from three-point range, and 21-of-25 from the free-throw line. 

In the game against Bakersfield, the Storm was led by Williams (15 points, three assists, seven rebounds), Howard (15 points, three blocks, four rebounds), Radu (14 points, three blocks, two assists, two rebounds), Swim (eight points, three steals, four rebounds), Ali-Musa (five points, four rebounds),

Adderly (three points, four rebounds, two assists), and Green (three blocks, two steals, four rebounds).

NVC was 18-of-62 shooting, 9-of-23 from three-point distance, and 17-of-24 from the free-throw line.

The Storm's season continues when they play in the James Clark Memorial Tournament, Dec. 5-7 at Cosumnes River-Sacramento.

NVC's next home game is on Dec. 18 when it faces Merritt-Oakland in the Bay Valley Conference opener.

* 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.