RVC Eagles flying high

By BOB PADECKY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Both the boys and girls basketball teams from Rincon Valley Christian are playing for NCS titles this weekend. If both win, there would be only one proper way to acknowledge such a rare achievement. Call off classes Monday morning. Ask the kids to go to the school’s gym. Order a lot of pizza. Get out the projector. Watch video of both games. Whaddya think, Doug Crouse?

RVC's Stephen Fisher, shown during a game in January, scored the winning basket Wednesday night as the Eagles advanced to the NCS final. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

“I like it a lot,” said Crouse, coach of the girls team and the school’s athletic director. “I’ve always said the kids do too much school.”

For the record, school administrators, Crouse was smiling when he said that. On the other hand, RVC shouldn’t let such an accomplishment pass quietly into that good night. It would be worth more than an announcement over the school’s public-address system. This story just screams for attention.

Consider the coaches. Crouse is 46, in his 19th year as girls coach. He has a 485-118 record, a cool 80.4 winning percentage. When Crouse graduated from college in 1985, RVC’s boys coach wasn’t even born yet. Darren Nelson is 22 years old. This is his first year as head coach. Like the boys he coaches, Nelson is also a student. He will get his degree in business this fall from Sonoma State.

“This is a rocket ride for me,” Nelson admitted.

Consider the family environment — literally. Nelson’s older brother, Miles, is married to Crouse’s oldest daughter, Hannah. Don Totemeier coaches RVC’s baseball team and is the grandfather to two RVC basketball players, Garrett and T.J. Robert.

Consider the teams. RVC’s girls this season moved up from Division 6 to Division 5. With nine of 10 players returning, Crouse thought they would do well this season. Their 29-2 record indicates they did that. RVC’s 22-7 boys, well, had a more modest view of things.

“Our goal was to win league,” said Nelson, an ex-SRJC player said. “And I thought maybe that was a little lofty.”

Consider the contrast. This is Crouse’s ninth trip to the NCS finals, hardly a surprise. The boys won Wednesday night when 6-foot-4 Stephen Fisher took a pass from Kasey Cazet with 7.7 seconds left, took TWO dribbles from half-court — he swears he did — and made the game-winning layup as time expired against San Francisco Waldorf.

“You gotta make this basket,” Fisher was saying to himself as he drove to the basket. “Don’t panic. I hope I don’t travel. I hope I don’t carry the ball.” A lot can happen in five seconds.

The Eagles trailed, 22-5, at the end of the first quarter. So, to win like that, well, Fisher didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m. Thursday. He woke up to 50 Facebook comments. The video of his layup went viral. He has yet to be asked for his autograph.

“I told him it’ll be one of those moments that will stay with him the rest of his life,” Nelson said.

It will stay with the school, as well. A game-winning, buzzer-beater in the NCS semifinals, that should get a lot of face time. Like Monday. Regardless what happens Saturday night in Ferndale, get out the projector Monday. Show Fisher dropping it in with his left hand. That’s gotta be worth a slice a pizza. Gotta be.

For more North Bay sports go to Bob Padecky’s blog at padecky.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.