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Clayton Valley Reigns Supreme on the Pitch

A weekly look at sports action from around the Diablo Valley Athletic League.

The Beast is in the East … East Concord: The boys and girls soccer teams entered this season with gigantic bull’s-eyes on their backs as defending DVAL champions but neither team has let the pressure or expectations affect their play. The girls are crushing the opposition, having outscored their last four opponents 16-0 during their current four-game winning streak. They are sitting atop the league ranks with a perfect 5-0 record.

The boys, however, have been hearing whispers about the up-and-coming and their freshman sensation, Jonathan Ayala, making a run at the league title. and it was a rough and rugged contest with several players exiting the game with injuries after being involved in major collisions. The Eagles were able to score the equalizer in the 83rd minute and the two teams played to a tie. The evenly matched teams face each other again Feb. 8 at Ygnacio Valley. The outcome of the match could very well determine the league champion.

They Said It (Boys Soccer: Clayton Valley 1, Ygnacio Valley 1): “We knew it was going to be a tough game on the road against the defending league champions, Clayton Valley. We have been working all year for this game. It was a tough game. We took the lead and tried to hold it but they fought back.” — Ygnacio Valley coach Cesar Chavez.

Inside the Boys Basketball Game of the Week:  College Park (8-4) hosted with the top spot in the DVAL standings on the line. Northgate coasted for much of the game, with a huge lead before giving up a run in the fourth. Northgate hung on for the .

Scouting Report:

  • The Broncos are no longer just a one- or two-pony show. They have as many as seven rotation players contributing and three players averaging double-digit points. Less than a month after the Broncos'  to , where standout point guard Connor Jean was openly wondering if the Broncos would find a consistent third cog in the rotation, Nate Moniz and Matt Butler eclipsed 20-points in Friday’s win over College Park in a hostile Falcons gym. Butler has been spectacular during the team's eight-game winning streak and is really starting to develop into a lock-down defender, leading the Broncos with 2.3 steals per game.
  • The Broncos, however, do have a flaw, which they will need to remedy come North Coast Section playoff time. The team has a propensity for allowing the opposition to shoot a high percentage from the three-point arc. College Park’s Logan Ryan and Michael Daily nailed nine triples, while Acalanes’ Michael Jackson and Stephen Collins rained down eight in a (the Broncos’ last defeat).
  • The Falcons’ brand of small ball did produce the expected high-volume of threes attempted and converted, but not the fast break points or opportunities necessary to stay with Northgate. Also, even with five guards in the game for College Park, Northgate still had a significant advantage in fast break points.
  • Despite its lack of size, College Park is not a push over on the glass. They  excel at offensive rebounding, especially off missed free throws and jump shots. At one point in the first quarter, the team came away with seven consecutive offensive rebounds.

They Said It (Northgate 76, College Park 66): “We try not to rely on one guy. That is why when Zach Corby is not having a scoring game, the other guys step up and we still come away with a win. Nate Moniz is a great player and he is starting to play more. We can score with a number of different players that other teams do not know about. We feel like we cannot be defended because we always have somebody else who can score the ball.” — Northgate coach Steve Mitchell

Inside The Number Three: , Clayton Valley’s Karley Menez, shot 9-for-13 from 3-point land last week in totaling 44 points during two blowouts. She outscored Clayton's opponents last week — Concord and Ygnacio Valley — who only totaled 34 points combined.

Alumni Watch: Karley’s older brother and Clayton Valley alum Drew Menez is an assistant coach for the U.S. Basketball Academy. But, like his sister, he can flat-out score. Menez led the Eagles in scoring his junior and senior seasons and last year, as a senior for Whittier College, Drew led the conference in scoring and was named first-team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Mailbag: "DVAL Observer" from Antioch e-mailed me inquiring about a DVAL baseball preview and offered terrific insight into the upcoming 2011 season:

Clayton Valley continues to be the team to beat with its superior pitching and live bats. The program produces new gems from its baseball factory each year and this season appears to be no different. They have JV players good enough to start on two or three varsity teams in the league, I believe. The league's 2010 MVP, Chazz Meadows, returns for his senior season before heading to Long Beach State next year.

Second place may be a toss-up between Concord and College Park, although the new manager at College Park may spark his players to make a run for second after a disappointing season last year. College Park's Matt Lisle, head coach at Ygnacio Valley last year, takes over the baseball program from Cliff Coleman. I've only seen Concord once this winter so an assessment would be incomplete.

Berean Christian and Northgate may be the middle-of-the-pack picks this season but could be a surprise as well. Northgate was looking for freshman, JV and varsity coaches to lead the program several weeks ago, so I'm not sure what shape the team will be in when the season begins, although it does have a good program to begin with and one that can continue to contend.  Berean, the smallest school in the league, as always, appears to be the sleeper each year, having defeated College Park in the season following its NCS championship win and then again last year. It also handed Clayton Valley its only league loss last year, following the team's NCS championship title from the year before. Berean, however, lost a work horse in their pitching staff and several players to graduation, and will field a young team.

Ygnacio Valley and Mount Diablo will pull up the rear with coaching and players uncertainties. Lack of support always factors into the sports programs at these two schools.  Filling the rosters will be an issue for Mount Diablo and Ygnacio.

By season's end, it's not inconceivable that five of the seven teams from the league could qualify for the NCS playoffs in their respective divisions.”

E-mail Adam Berke at adberke@gmail.com with any questions, comments or feedback.

Patrick Creaven contributed to this report.

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