Last week, the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Mendocino College Eagles played a regular conference scheduled for the week, with games on the road on Wednesday 8th vs.. Contra Costa and home games Friday 10th vs. Yuba.
This week, Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” would be a good theme song for both Eagles teams, with both Eagles teams playing two road games and no home games for the week. Both teams will be in Los Medanos on Wednesday 15 March and then on Solano College again on Friday 17 December.
They return to a normal home and schedule the following week, hosting Merritt College on Wednesday, January 22 and traveling to College of Marin on Friday, January 24.
The Marin games mark the start of the second half of Bay Valley Conference.
Maybe it’s actually a good timing for the Eagles to be on the road this week. Of those two sets of games that the Eagles played last week, they had the better results on the road Wednesday vs.. the Contra Costa comets, with the games played at Diablo Valley College.
The Lady Eagles probably play their best game of the year until that moment, led by 6 points after three quarters. The comets tied the competition in regulation and managed to achieve a 2-point win, 58-56, in 2 extensions.
The men’s race, which preceded the women’s race, was almost as close, with the Eagles with 6 points in half, but in the second half ahead and holding off a late Contra-rally to win the game 71-68.
They played at home against the Yuba College 49ers on Friday and both Eagles teams performed less well than on Wednesday.
The Lady Eagles started their game well with the 49ers, played well and had a 10-8 lead after the first fifteen minutes of play.
But although Yuba only had 5 players suitable for the game, these five players turned out to be very good basketball players and well conditioned in their 17th game of the season.
The Eagles, who only played their sixth game of the season, fought, but were scored in quarters 2, 3 and 4 by margins of 17-7, 17-9 and 19-4, achieving a final score of 61-30.
The win improved the record from 49ers to 10-7 in general and 3-2 in conference play. The records of the Eagles fell to 0-6 and 0-4 respectively.
The men’s game, which preceded the women’s game, consisted of two of the higher ranked men’s basketball teams in the Northern California community. Yuba came in with 14-3 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
The Eagles were 13-3 and 4-0 respectively. The game turned out to be as competitive as you would expect.
Yuba retained a slender one-digit lead to the first 15 minutes of the first half, but the Eagles took their first lead on the 4:38 mark and continued with 21-19 in the defense-dominated game.
The match was twice the same for the half ended with Yuba with 29-26.
The second half went about the same way, with Yuba having a lean lead until the Eagles re-tied the game, this time at 42-42 with 14:10 remaining. The score was three times the same at 45, 48 and then 50 with 7:11 to play.
The 49ers ran ahead, with Eagles still on their heels, Yuba clinging to a 56-52 lead with 2:21 to play.
To play with 33.6, Yuba’s lead was 59-54; the Eagles take two and three away from the lead.
But they were forced to foul, with Yuba converting 6 or 7 free throws in the remaining time and winning the game 65-56.
Despite the less than desired overall results in the four games played by the two Mendocino teams last week, there were some remarkable individual achievements.
In the ladies game with Contra Costa, Regina Faalelea drew a game-high 14 rebounds and a team-high had 4 steals. Kiley Butler scored a team-high 10 points and carried 8 boards. Aimee Gordon scored 9 points and 9 rebounds. McKenzie Turner had 2 three.
Against Yuba, Gordon was the best rebounder of Eagles with 13 and the second highest scorer with 7 points. Linda Baqleh led the Eagles with 10 points. The Eagles had 10 steals in the game, Kiley Butler, Liana Menton and Gordon each have 2.
Eagles head coach Katherine Escobedo noted that most conference teams, including Contra, do not have large rosters. So far the Eagles have played Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba with a selection of 6, 6 and 5 respectively. The Eagles have a selection of 11 players.
However, at this time in the season, with 10 games remaining on the season schedule, the Eagles have only played 6 games, with their opponents of the conference playing an average of 16 games.
Although the Eagles have an advantage in the selection of the roster compared to most other conference teams, they follow gaming experience and conditioning.
In a reaction to the Contra game, Escobedo commented that “they were a good team. We had trouble guarding their point guard (Jaszmyn Ponder). She was one of those unstoppable players. She scored 35 points and another player scored in double digits (Jailynn Wyatt, 15). “
“But overall we played really well. That was the first game we played man (defense). They (the Eagles) have shown that they know how to play people and that they can do that. We are the only team in our conference that has played men. I was proud of that.
“Amiee and Regina both played very well. That was the best game from Regina so far. They both brought down many rebounds for us.
“In general, we played really well. It amounted to a little bit of nerves. Contra had played more games than we were and were more prepared. Their added experience gave them a sort of advantage in a close game.
In response to the game with Yuba, Escobedo commented that “the Yuba coach has a lot of experience and the team was well coached, highly disciplined and really in very good condition.
“We were (in advance) in the first quarter of the competition. Kiley (Butler) made a good move to go to the basket and give us a head start. Then Linda (Baqleh) turned to the basket to give us 4 points.
“After the first quarter we didn’t take good care of the ball. We have become tired. So we have to keep working on the conditioning.
“The lack of experience hurts us. Many of our girls don’t just come from high school. They have taken a few years off. I give them a lot of respect and props. They are doing really well, just jump out, practice and take time off to play to start this program.
Looking ahead is the next Eagles game on Wednesday in Los Medanos. Escobedo noted that “LMC is 2-14. They have played 16 games and we have played 6. I’m excited to see how it goes. I think the second round of the conference will be good for us. We have seen what the other teams are like and what they can do. We have the ability but just need more experience. “
In the men’s competition with Contra, the Eagles had three double-digit scorers: Alex Rojas with 22, Fred Bryant with 21 and LJ Hallums with 11. Darius Traylor led the Eagles in rebounds with 10. He also had 4 assists, 6 steals, a block and scored 6 points. Landon Garcia-Floyd came off the bench and did not score, but had 5 boards, an assist and a handle and a block. Shafee Mumin scored 8 points, drew 6 rebounds and had 5 blocks.
Against Yuba, the Eagles again had three scorers with two figures: Hallums with 16, Bryant with 12 and Traylor with 10 points. Rojas missed double digits by scoring a point with a 9, but had a monster game on the glass and drew 16 rebounds. Traylor and Bryant each had 6 and Hallums and Bryant 5 boards each.
Eagles men’s head coach Billy Offill shared his opinion about his team’s game in the two games played last week, being the first to comment on the Contra Costa game.
“We immediately got warm. Freddie Bryant hit a few three early. It seemed that we would leave them. We were 20-8. But Contra, to their honor, started to play well and got a lot of energy going.
“We have dropped by 36-30 every half. We stayed on the couch and talked during the rest about what we wanted to change and to get some energy going.
“Divon (Davis-Boddie) was in error. But we had Landon out there. And the three of them called Freddie, I thought he would break the school record for three in one game (10). He hit 7-for-12 and even his misses were in and out. He gave us 21 points. Rojas had 22. I thought Shafee had his best game so far off the couch for us. He scored 8 points, had 5 blocks. He gave us good energy. “
(Note that the record of three threes in the game is owned by a Mendocino College basketball player from Ukiah High grad and Mendocino College grad Cesar Mendoza, a student sportsman with 3 sports for Mendocino. Mendoza played for the Eagles men’s basketball teams in the Seasons 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. He was also the place kicker for the Mendocino football teams in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He later returned to Mendocino College and played for the Eagles men’s football teams in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons).
Offill noted that ‘the 6-9-man of Contra had a good game with a double-double. I placed Shaffee against him because he (Mumin) is the length and he eventually blocked some shots and made some plays.
“It ensured a good late game situation for us. We had a 5-second differentiation between the game and the shot clock. Landon kicked Rojas who got a good shot that looked like he was in it. But it shot out. Contra got the rebound with about six seconds left (in the game), a decrease of 3.
“They (Contra) chose to push the ball to the center instead of calling a time-out. Darius cuts it off and steals it to the buzzer to close the game.
“Those victories brought us unbeaten on the road in the conference. Freddie had a career game high in three in a game with 7. Many of them were large buckets late. Darius was playing everywhere. He has become a great balawk. He sees things. He is on average 2.5 steals a game. He makes a lot of plays.
“The victory enabled us to keep pace with Yuba. We were hyped up. Then we sat back and cheered for the ladies who were going to work overtime. It was a heavy loss for them. We all rode back together. “
“On Friday against Yuba at home we had a great audience. They (Yuba) were ranked in the north and we became 8th. That was sort of the biggest game of the night in the state.
“I watch them (Yuba) on tape for a few years and I feel that they have a huge advantage here or there. But in this game I thought it was a fairly even game. The score showed that kind.
“You had an average of 85 matches per year for both teams. But at one point with about 3 minutes to go, it was all 50.
“We could have taken the lead early. Darius had a few steals and LJ had a few escapes. But we just couldn’t hide it (in points). We were down 8-2 to start the game instead of rising 10-2.
“It was a kind of numb process by two heavyweight teams. We went to half and it was 29-26 Yuba. It clearly scored lower than I expected.
“What we saw is that both teams are defensively good. Alex Rojas had 16 boards. To win the game, he had to rebound at a high level. His 14 defensive rebounds were high for us seasonally.
“Darius has played a lot on the drive-and-kicks. We had some great open looks late. But we had that silence when the score was all 50 and we couldn’t score.
“Cornell Greenwood hit a few large buckets for Yuba and gave them a little separation.
“But I thought our boys were arguing a lot. Playing head-up for 37 minutes (Yuba) gives us a lot of confidence, knowing that we can not only play with them, but that we are able to beat them.
“I think we have the pieces this year to play everyone on a particular night.
“It was a swing in one game. If we beat Yuba, we are ahead of one game. If we lose against them, we are behind a game with 11 more games to play.
“I think our boys have a good perspective on the game. We just got cold at the wrong time. I thought our boys worked hard and put themselves in a position to win the game. We just got cold in a difficult time.
“We defended the high-low post very well for most of the night. We even sat in the glass with them, and Alex went to a lot of trouble. LJ had a game high of 16, but he could easily have had 25.
“So we are ready again. But we will not play them until February 12 in Marysville, which will be a very difficult game. I think what we do from now until then will determine our basis (for the play-offs) .
“But we are pretty focused on playing one game at a time.
“This week will probably be our toughest week of the season, with two races on the road; Wednesday in Los Medanos and Friday in Solano, those are two road races against two really good programs.
“We are going to be ranked 8th in the north and 18th in the state. It is important that we play well next month. We have to close strongly.”