DEMAIN EVENT: Mid-Valley hoops struggles in the early goings
The echoes from sneakers squeaking on the courts in Mid-Valley gyms aren't traveling very far.
After an amazing 2011-12 prep basketball season, we are seeing quite the slide.
Last year, 21 of our 32 teams (boys and girls combined) earned a spot into the playoffs.
We were blessed with a season that doesn't come around very often.
We watched Matt Hayes break the scoring mark at Yuba City and the Lindhurst and Gridley boys teams, and Colusa girls, make the state tournament. It was an exciting season with potential everywhere.
This year, we'll be lucky to have half of that.
It's been a rough start for most of our boys teams. Of the 16 programs, just seven have winning records, and most of those are teetering on .500.
At 6-4 overall, Lindhurst has the best record among our larger schools, while River Valley (4-7), Yuba City (3-4), Marysville (3-8) and Sutter (2-5) are still trying to find their way.
Wheatland (8-4), Gridley (7-5) and Live Oak (6-3) are providing some light in the Northern Section. And while Biggs (7-4), Williams (6-4) and Pierce (5-4) are above .500, the lack of quality wins reveal that playoff runs aren't yet realistic.
On the girls' side of the equation, it gets slightly better.
Marysville and Sutter are 8-3, which is promising, but some quality wins on the schedules of both teams would be nice.
East Nicolaus (5-1) and New Life Christian (6-1) are probably the two most pleasant surprises thus far — and for two completely different reasons.
While the Spartans finished 20-7 last season, they lost three of their top four scorers to graduation and have a new coach in John Dolenga, who took over for longtime head man Bob Wolcott.
There isn't a better story right now than the New Life girls — all six of them.
That's right, the Crusaders have just six players and could possibly make a run in the postseason too, judging by some of the wins they put together — one of which is over Faith Christian (6-3).
Two of the area's better teams have been grinding due to their difficult schedules — River Valley (5-4) and Colusa (6-5). And the only other team with a winning record is Pierce (5-4), which has checkered wins and losses from the beginning.
Let's face it, basketball has never been one of the Mid-Valley's strong suits. Sure, there were teams here and there from Marysville's state semifinal boys teams and Colusa's state title and runner-up boys teams. But right now, basketball lies in the shadows casts by our baseball and softball programs.
And when you ask our softball and baseball coaches and players why that is, they always credit the traveling, AAU and summer teams.
So, I wonder: Can't we do the same for our kids with hoop dreams?
There must be programs in the offseason these young enthusiasts can join. And it's not as if we suffer from a lack of quality coaches in the area — from Bob Jensen (current AD at Lindhurst) to Brad McIntyre (River Valley) and even Mamo Rafiq (head coach of the Afghanistan national team) — there are hoops-savvy minded leaders in our community.
Here's to hoping the season, and the purchase of basketballs, picks up.
CONTACT Bryan DeMain at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4789. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADbdemain.