21 Jan 19
The Ukiah Daily Journal
Friday evening’s men’s basketball game at Mendocino College Eagles between the host Eagles and the visiting Solano College Falcons was a bit of a rare experience for the Eagles this season.
The Eagles won the game. But that has not been an uncommon experience for Mendocino this season. The win was the Eagles’ 13th of the season vs. just 6 loses, the second best season won-loss record among the Bay Valley Conference teams.
The win improved the Eagles’ conference record to 4-3. They are tied with Los Medanos and Marin who also have 4-3 conference records. Yuba holds down first place with a 6-1 record. Merritt is second at 5-2. Alameda is 2-5, Napa Valley 1-5 and Solano 0-7.
The Eagles are 7-1 on their home court, 4-3 on the opponents’ courts and 2-2 on neutral courts.
What made Friday’s game standout from most of the Eagles’ other games played this season was the 19-point margin of victory in the 83-64 win.
Of the Eagles’ 19 games played so far this season, 13 have been decided by single-digit margins of 9 points or less; 11 of those games by 5 points or less. Seven games weren’t decided until the final possession of the game.
Such closely competitive games are intense, highly entertaining and quite satisfying for the winning side and its fans; though not so much so for the other side. But even the winners can come away drained by the experience.
Playing many such games, as have the Eagles, can take its toll. Once in a while a team needs to “take a break” from that “grind.” Friday’s game provided that break and the Eagles took advantage of it.
Solano came into the game occupying the cellar of the conference standings with an 0-6 record and a conference worse 2-14 record.
Based on that record, one might assume that it was a game the Eagles should win. But wins are not guaranteed.
In their conference opener in Dec., the Falcons gave first place Yuba all they could handle. The Falcons led 40-26 at half in that game. Yuba rallied in the second half to win the game by just 2 points, 70-68.
The Eagles played at Yuba last Friday. They got down early in the at game, trailing 47-27 at half. They rallied in the second half, but ended up losing that game by a final score of 90-80.
So, based just on comparative scores against that common opponent, the Mendocino – Solano matchup seemed not to be the mismatch that the teams’ respective records might otherwise indicate.
Through the first five minutes of play Friday evening, the Eagles held a slim 10-9 lead. The Eagles had led 7-2 on a first-possession trey by sophomore forward Bymnet Tecle, a jumper by sophomore forward Gabe Knight and a fast-break layup by sophomore guard Jared Strate.
Treys by Strate and Tecle and a Strate layup off an assist by sophomore point guard Diego Reyes, plus some defensive stops, produced an 8-0 run and an 18-9 Eagles’ lead at the 12:36 mark of the first half.
The teams traded points over the next three minutes of play, the Eagles still up 9, the score 23-14 with 9:35 to play in the half.
Over the next 6 minutes plus, with the Eagles subbing players in, the Falcons managed to whittle down the Eagles’ lead and tie the score 30-30 with 3:36 to go in the half.
But that turned out to be the Falcon’s high-water mark of the game. Starting with a Reyes’ drive down the right side of the lane for a layup, the Eagles retook the lead and never relinquished it for the remainder of the game.
Reyes’ layup started a 9-point Eagles’ run to close out the half. Reyes then made a steal and an assist to Strate fast-break layup. Strate added another trey and freshman guard Divon Davis-Boddie closed out the first-half scoring with a layup in the final seconds of the half to give the Eagles a 39-30 lead.
Strate led the Eagles in scoring in the first half with 16 points, including 4 treys. In addition to Tecle’s 2 treys freshman guard Kevin Deel also hit a shot from beyond the arc.
The Eagles started the second half like they ended the first, with a Davis-Boddie drive for a layup. At the 15:47 mark, a putback by sophomore forward Larry Bryson gave the Eagles a 46-37 lead, the Eagles maintaining a high single-digit lead.
The trend continued. At the 13-minute mark a Strate drive through the paint for a layup had the Eagles up 51-40.
A Reyes’ steal leading to a Strate fast-break layup with 12 minutes on the clock ignited what would be an Eagles’ 9-1 run, pushing their lead to 60-42 with 10:07 to play, Reyes scoring the last 2 points of the run on another driving layup.
The remainder of the game saw the Eagles maintaining a lead in the “teens,” with all 13 Eagles suited up for the game seeing playing time and making contributions to the eventual win.
Highlights included treys by Deel and Knight, a layup by freshman guard Fred Bryant, a putback and then a layup by Bryson on consecutive possessions, a layup by freshman guard Landon Garcia-Floyd off an assist by sophomore center Cole Kinslow and a Garcia-Floyd putback for the Eagles’ final 2 points of the game in the 83-64 win.
Ten different Eagles got into the scoring column for the game.
The Eagles top scorer on the night was Strate with 20 points. Bryson had 12, Tecle 9 on three treys, Davis-Boddie and Knight with 7 each, Reyes, Kinslow and Bryant with 6 points each and Garcia-Floyd with 4.
Other game statistics were not yet available, but several Eagles contributed work on the boards, led by Strate, Bryson and Knight, limiting Solano’s second-chance opportunities.
The Eagles also forced several turnovers and had multiple steals in the game.
Eagles head coach Billy Offill felt that Eagles’ two wins this week, including Friday’s win over Solano were especially important, given the team’s two conference losses to Contra Cosa and Yuba last week.
“We had that 0-2 week for the first time in quite a while, losing to Contra and Yuba and facing a lot of adversity in those two games. We knew we needed a bounce-back week and what better way to do that than having two home games. The crowd and community support for this team has been great all year.
“We did what we had to do against LMC (Los Medanos). It wasn’t the prettiest win. We didn’t shoot the ball well. I told the guys I know we’re going to shoot the ball well. Solano tries to scramble around a lot. If we shared the ball and looked for assists, we’d find some good looks.
“Jared Strate was a beneficiary of that early. Diego Reyes played what I think is the best game of his career here. He probably shot ball just six times total. He just finds everybody. He controls the tempo. He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s getting to the rack. He’s getting steals. He had really, really good game.
“Jared is a really good player. He defensive rebounds as good as anybody. For a 2 guard that likes to shoot threes, he gets dirty. He gets down there and gets some tough D boards. He’s physical. He gets himself to foul line. He can finish. He’s tough. He’s a captain. He’s become a really solid college player. He’ll make a nice player at the next level as well.
“Davis-Boddie is a guy that will have a big role at the point as well. Those two guys were up there with assists.
“It was nice to see our guys get some buckets and get up in the 80s after scoring just 58 points the other night.
Our goal of the program is to hold teams to 65. When they (Solano) had 30 at the half, I thought they had a little too much. So we clamped down in the second half. Our pressure was key, getting some steals and picking them up full court or our 2-2-1. We got them out of their rhythm.
“It was a nice win for our guys. We’ve been playing close games for a couple months. So it’s nice to get away from somebody, and give everybody solid minutes and have our guys all go out there and contribute and do a nice job.
“We shared the rock, played good pressure D, we locked up, got deflections, got steals, we pushed it, we hit some threes, we got some good post play. We played a nice overall game tonight. If we do that down the stretch, we’ll be fine.
“It was a nice night for our program to get out and get away from Solano at home. It was a great win for our guys. Their chemistry and toughness showed tonight. It was a good quality team win.
“Next Wednesday we have to close up the first half against Merritt who has been playing really well. They’ve already beaten Yuba and Contra. So that’s not going to be an easy game on the road.”