Foothill Valley League seems wide open to all comers
The Foothill Valley League saw some amazing games during the fall season in all sports. Here’s what to expect from inside the gym on the hardwood in the FVL.
Placer sits at 10-8 currently. The Hillmen started the year 2-6, but behind strong play from their pair of post players Max Petrenko and Konner Baroni, won eight of nine before dropping two of three in their host Kendall Arnett Tournament.
Giving the Hillmen a boost defensively are Ian Howes, Michael Stuck and Peyton Harbour. Placer begins league play Jan. 8 against Nevada Union.
Oakmont began the year 4-1 but have since won just three of their past 11 games.
The Vikings don’t have a lot of size, but as head coach John Hunter emphasizes, Oakmont can compete with energy and effort.
“Our close losses, we just didn’t make shots,” said Hunter. “Overall, this is a great group of guys that have given us everything that they’ve got… I’d like to see our shots fall more, but if we’re giving it all we’ve got, we’ll take our chances against anybody.”
The Vikings, who open FVL play with Lincoln Tuesday, are led by seniors Grahm Spitzer, Josh Ganub and Max Bumgarner.
Rio Linda’s only two wins have come against Bradshaw Christian and Elliot Christian. The Knights are just two years removed from a CIF state playoff appearance, but only won five games a year ago.
Rio Linda, who is 2-11 as of Thursday night, features Elijah Jones’ (17.3 points per game), Elian Morales and Abraham Banks.
Ponderosa has played the toughest schedule of all the FVL teams and has an 8-7 record to show for it. The Bruins have earned key wins over Vista del Lago, Woodcreek, El Dorado and Union Mine.
The Bruins, who have only one player under 6 feet, are led by seniors Luke Tank, Elijah Henderson, junior Aidan Falls and sophomore forward Ty Uber.
Nevada Union is a much better team than its 7-11 record indicates. The Miners have wins over Del Oro at the Mike Takayama Tournament and against Chico.
Foothill Valley teams would be wise to not sleep on the Miners, who like to run the floor, play tight defense and shoot the 3. Fiery second-year head coach Mark Casey has a solid inside post presence and motor in 6-foot-6 senior David O’Looney and junior point guard Aidan Keros.
Lincoln has the best preseason record of all the league members but also has one of the worst strength-of-schedules. Only Oakmont played an easier preseason slate, according to Maxpreps.
The Fighting Zebras will look to use the 3 as a primary weapon with the likes of Jack Lanigan, Angelo Nicandro and freshman Jake Overbay ready to fire at will for head coach Robert Ash, who has four 20-win seasons on Lincoln’s sidelines.
There doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut favorite for the girls’ side of the FVL, according to their respective preseason marks.
Placer, who Maxpreps says has played the hardest preseason schedule, is led by senior point guard Tyra Al Mujadidi and swing player Delaney Keddie and junior stretch post Anne Lillis.
The Lady Hillmen (10-7) were runners up in their host Coach G. Memorial Tournament before taking the Chavez Christmas Classic. Placer was scheduled to play McQueen of Reno, Nevada, on Saturday.
Oakmont (6-10) has lost five of its last six games but has played competitive games against Woodcreek, Grant and Rio Americano.
The Vikings are led by double-double threat Preet Gill, who nets 18.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Junior Camille Hoskins and senior Melodey Temple will also be relied upon for Oakmont.
Ponderosa was 9-5 at the start of Friday’s contest at Cordova High. The Bruins had won three of their last four games behind junior Bailey Day’s scoring.
The Bruins, who have already surpassed last year’s win total, are tough on the glass as senior Timmi King and junior Lilli Guimont each average more than 10 boards a night.
Rio Linda, who was 5-11 at the start of Friday, features two sophomores as their top two leading scorers in guards Harmony Fairweather and Azeneth Rubio.
The Lady Knights have already lost to Lincoln and Ponderosa.
Lincoln began the year winning its first seven games. The Fighting Zebras won the Duard Millet Tournament in Oroville and took third place in their host Lincoln Invitational.
The Zebras are led by Kalyna Kim’s 18.2 points a game while Keegan Linke has a solid all-around game with over seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals per contest.
Nevada Union has the second toughest preseason slate behind Placer, but the Miners have 10 wins to eight losses.
Behind strong play from Reese Wheeler, Molly Burton, Maddy Zucca and Aijah King, Nevada Union earned three wins over Sierra Foothill League teams – against Granite Bay and Rocklin twice.