NCS basketball: RVC boys, girls come up short against Ferndale

By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For the second consecutive season, the Rincon Valley Christian boys lost a road game to Ferndale in the NCS Division 6 basketball championship.

After storming back to take a 53-50 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Eagles did not score again as Ferndale ended Saturday’s game on a 16-0 run, winning 66-53. It was the third consecutive Div. 6 championship for the Wildcats (15-12).

“Ferndale’s pretty good,” RVC coach Darren Nelson said by phone after the game. “They played well, and it’s tough to win up there.”

The game started rough for the Eagles, Nelson said.

“We were down 9-0 after a couple of minutes,” Nelson said. “We started to get settled in after a little bit, and started matching them, bucket for bucket.”
After the rough start, RVC trailed by six — both at the end of the first quarter and at halftime.

“We were only down six at halftime, and we didn’t play that well, so I was kind of optimistic for the second half,” Nelson said.
The second-half scoring was comprised almost entirely of runs. The Eagles’ Paul Meihaus scored the first five points of the second half to bring RVC within a point. Then, Ferndale seemed to blow the game open, racing out to a 44-32 lead before RVC answered with 10 straight points to close to within two.

“We switched defenses in the third quarter, from man to a 3-2 zone,” Nelson said of that run. “That definitely threw them off. We did that halfway through the third, and they didn’t score for a couple of minutes.

“We were getting steals off of that, and we were scoring enough to close the gap.”
The third quarter ended with the score knotted at 46.

“We had an 8-minute game to decide the NCS title,” Nelson said.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles clawed their way to that narrow 53-50 lead before Ferndale pulled away, primarily on the strength of strong free-throw shooting as RVC’s Jacob Hicks fouled out.

Hicks led the Eagles with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“They started figuring out the zone a little bit more,” Nelson said of the fourth quarter. “We just gave up some easy buckets. We had a lot of shots the whole game just go in and out. I can think of at least five shots that could’ve easily dropped.”

The Eagles should have no problem reloading for next year, as point guard Kasey Cazet, who had 10 points and nine assists Saturday, is the team’s lone senior.

“I think we’ve got tons of potential,” Nelson said. “Half the team is underclassmen this year, so all those guys are coming back. Even if those guys didn’t play, they got to learn; they got to be on one of the best teams around.

“Some of the guys nobody heard about this year could have big years next year.”
Nelson said he was proud of his young team, and that he hopes to be able to coach next year after graduating from Sonoma State.

“I’m just super proud of our guys because no one expected us to be there,” the 23-year-old coach said.
“We just want to give God all the glory for this season, and feel blessed that we had an opportunity to play for an NCS title, and I felt that we had a great year.”

GIRLS NCS DIV. 6 CHAMPIONSHIP: FERNDALE 43,
RINCON VALLEY CHRISTIAN 32

In Saturday’s Division 6 girls basketball championship, Rincon Valley Christian started strong, taking a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
But the Eagles fell behind after they were held scoreless for the entire second quarter. With Saturday’s win, the Wildcats (18-2) earned their first NCS title. Rincon Valley Christian finished the season 16-15.

Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat’s online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 or eric.wittmershaus@ pressdemocrat.com.