SAN PABLO, CA ““ The Seventh Annual NorCal Clash that ended in a 96-93 victory for the boys from the class of 2018, was a back and forth affair that certainly gave the fans at Contra Costa College on Sunday afternoon their money’s worth.
Several players shined for both teams, and some players under the radar or emerging had solid outings, but no one played better than 6-4 Capital Christian-Sacramento junior guard/wing Zach Chappell.
He only had four points in a first half that saw the 2018 team with a 43-42 deficit, however in the second half Chappell took his overall game to another level, using his quickness and physicality as tools on both ends of the court in helping secure the win. Chappell finished with 21 points, six rebounds, five steals, four assists and three blocked shots. He was 6-of-9 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line overall, and 5-of-6 and 7-of-8 in those categories in the second half, respectively. For his efforts Chappell was named the Player of the Game by the panel of media and analysts in attendance.
“We were down at the half and I told my teammates I felt I didn’t do enough, so I just knew I had to pick it up ,” said Chappell, a 3.3 GPA student-athlete that has an offer from UC Davis.
The player that was the leading scorer and was the player that would have been the choice for top player honors had the 2017 team won was 6-4 shooting guard Joey Calcaterra of Marin Catholic-Kentfield. He had a game-high 25 points with seven rebounds. Calcaterra was also 4-of-9 from 3-point range (team was 10-of-37) in comparison with an entire 2018 team that was 3-for-22 from outside the arc.
Calcaterra was also 7-of-9 from the free-throw line but his team was only 13-of-18 while the juniors slashing style got them a whopping 42 free-throws of which they had 29 made.
“It’s always fun playing with the top talent that showcases who is elite and who can hang,” Calcaterra said. “My offense was strong today and I wanted work on my defense and quickness and I thought I did well keeping guys in front of me.”
After falling behind 14-2 early the juniors fought back to trail 19-13 in the first of four 10-minute quarters, by a point at the half, and they were tied 68-68 with the seniors after three quarters. In the final period they fell behind 89-79 with around three minutes left but from there they tightened up on defense and hit their free-throws in a 17-4 run to end the game.
The seniors actually had the ball with 2.9 seconds left but Chappell was doubling on Calcaterra and he blocked a desperation shot as the horn sounded.
The seniors were without Moreau Catholic-Hayward star Damari Milstead and that hurt them against the junior guards. He is nursing a hand injury.
Of the other top junior performers James Akinjo, a 5-11 guard from Salesian-Richmond, looked the best. He was the leader in the open court and had 12 points, eight assists and four steals.
Two juniors had identical double-double 11 point and 11 rebound performances, 6-7 forward Dylan Belquist of Los Gatos and 6-8 forward Mason Forbes of Folsom. Both constantly crashed the boards for a 2018 team that out-rebounded the seniors, 68-57. Logan Johnson, a 6-2 combo guard from St. Francis-Mountain View with an offer Fresno State where his brother, St. Francis grad and current Miami Heat player Tyler Johnson also played, looked good on both ends of the court. He had 11 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Junior guard Naseem Gaskin of Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland (eight points) had a tough shooting game but still played hard. He’s also grown over two inches and is now close to 6-4 after measuring around 6-1 last season. Fellow O’Dowd junior guard Elijah Hardy (six points) also was off on his shot but he played tough defense and hit the boards to finish with seven rebounds.
A player that didn’t put up a lot of numbers but impressed the analysts with the use of his left hand was 7-footer Jack Wilson of Serra-San Mateo. He had six points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Christian Brothers-Sacramento 6-7 forward Elias King only took five shots but made four to finish with eight points with six rebounds. Chris Cagle, a 6-6 forward from Woodcreek-Roseville rounded out the juniors with two points and four rebounds.
For the 2017 team a player that impressed on both ends of the court with his aggressive play was Darrin Person of Immanuel-Reedley. He made the most of his long ride from the Fresno area by finishing with a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds with five blocked shots. Bellarmine-San Jose shooting guard Angelo Athens was 5-for-8 from the field on 2-for-4 on 3-pointers to finish with 12 points, plus he snagged five rebounds.
Jade Smith, a 6-4 combo guard from St. Joseph-Notre Dame-Alameda didn’t shoot a lot and only had six points, but he dished out seven assists and hit the glass hard for nine rebounds. Another player that came a long way and showed well was Walter Graves. The 6-6 forward from Clovis West-Fresno had 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
Without a true post on the team 6-8 Tydus Verhoeven of Manteca had to play the position and he gave Wilson a tussle and blocked two of his shots and four overall, but being out of his normal position limited his offensive touches and he only had eight point with seven rebounds although he was 4-of-5 from the field. Montana-committed 6-2 guard Timmy Falls of Dublin, the only player on either team that is committed to a college, had seven points and three assists.
Souley Boum, a 6-2 guard from Oakland Tech had six points, 6-3 guard Austin Fadal of Monte Vista-Danville had five points, and 6-5 power forward Austin Alexander of Capital Christian-Sacramento rounded things out with two points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.
The victorious 2018 team was coached by Mark DeLuca, the first-year coach at Valley Christian-San Jose after leading Berkeley to a CIF Division I Northern California title in the greatest Berkeley season in 94 years. The coach of the 2017 team was Mike Wall of Folsom, one of the top coaches in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section who has a CIF Northern Regional Division II title to his credit along with many league and section titles.
Harold Abend is a SportStars Contirbutor and Girls and Boys Basketball and Football Analyst and Recruiting Specialist
Follow him @HaroldAbend