Short-handed Vikings still bury Miners

Oakmont reserves show well in win over Nevada Union
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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A big chance to throw the race for positioning in the Sierra Foothill League standings into further chaos went by the wayside Wednesday night in the gym at Oakmont High The host team entered the game in a tie for second place, but had to take on a Nevada Union team that was just one game behind without three of the top seven players in its rotation. Oakmont rode a strong performance by a group of forwards who have seen limited minutes thus far this season to a win that was somewhat surprising in terms of its large margin. The leading scorer for the Vikings, 6-foot-8 center Tony Gill, was out after missing the entire week’s practices due to illness and he was joined on the bench by point guard Matt Daly, who is out with an injury. Even without them, and key reserve guard Gabe Hetrick, Oakmont powered its way to an 18-6 advantage after one quarter and carried through to a 61-40 win. “Nathaniel Grady, Eric Marten, and Trevor Bellinger gave us some big minutes,” said Oakmont coach Rick Campbell. “Grady hit some big jump shots and Marten and Bellinger provided key interior defense and rebounding in the absence of Tony Gill.” A trio of the usual suspects was instrumental in Oakmont’s impressive start. Fred Mobley (six points) and Alex Ford (seven points) carried the bulk of the first period scoring load while 6-foot-6 forward J.T. Adenrele was absolutely dominant in the paint, both on the defensive end and on the glass. Adenrele blocked a total of seven shots on the night, but it was a pair of early rejections that changed the course of the game. The emphatic nature with which the junior swats balls away from his defensive rim can be an intimidating thing. Against the Miners, Adenrele’s presence in the paint changed their approach to the game and altered far more shots even than the seven he turned aside. Nevada Union scored just six points in the opening period and just 18 before intermission. After an eight point third, the Miners had their best offensive output in the final stanza after the issue was long-since decided. “Collectively, we were pretty good defensively,” Campbell said. “Solid team defense and rebounding will always keep you in games, and if you can couple that with some effective offensive execution you can do some good things. We continued to share the ball effectively.” Passing was a big part of the Oakmont attack once again, as the Vikings did a nice job working the ball. Mobley dealt four assists, and Adenrele set up multiple buckets with his passing out of the post. Adenrele did a nice job working his way to the backboard for easy baskets beginning in the second quarter. He led the Vikings with 15 points and also grabbed seven rebounds to go with those seven blocked shots. Mobley scored 14 points and Ford added 13 in a balanced scoring distribution for Oakmont. “Last night was good for us, we found a way to win in the midst of adversity,” Campbell said. “That's a good sign for us. In the words of (Woodcreek) Coach Pinkerton, ‘its about survivability in this league.’ We will be tested every night, and its about finding a way to survive.” Grady scored eight points and pulled down four boards and Marten, who got the start on the front line as well, added five points to go with four rebounds of his own. That duo, along with Mobley, had some foul trouble during the game, which could have been a major problem for Oakmont, but they battled through, even mixing in some zone defense to help out. Nevada Union got 17 points from Peter MacDonald and 11 points from Colin Lee in the loss. The Vikings (4-2 in the SFL, 14-5) are back in action Friday night, opening the second half of the SFL season (2-4, 14-7) with a 7:30 p.m. date with Granite Bay. Oakmont won the season’s first matchup with the Grizzlies 50-47 three weeks ago. “As for Friday, we will have to wait and see who is healthy,” Campbell said. “Either way, we know we will be tested, so we'll try again to find a way to survive.”