WEST VALLEY — The West Valley varsity basketball boys closed out their season with a 50-37 loss to Forestville on Feb. 21, in the quarterfinals of the Section VI Class playoffs. Forestville, the No. 2 seed, hosted West Valley, the No. 7 seed, in the third game the two schools have played, this season. Forestville won the first meeting 64-31 and the second meeting 71-22. The playoff loss was the best West Valley had fared against division-champion Forestville.
Forestville’s stingy defense has kept West Valley under 35 points, in both meetings. West Valley coach Jason Kearney took advantage of having a week to prepare for Forestville and did a lot of scrimmaging 6-on-5 during practice, to simulate the pressure the Forestville puts on opponents. West Valley also implemented two new offensive sets.
“The work we did in practice seemed to work. The shots just weren’t falling,” said Kearney. “We had a lot of good opportunities. At halftime, I told them, ‘We don’t have to change anything, offensively. We’re getting excellent looks, they just aren’t falling. Defensively, we made some adjustments and pressed them the whole second half and that seemed to bother [Forestville].”
West Valley trailed 37-11 at halftime, but Forestville only outscored the Wildcats 20-19, in the second half.
“I was really pleased with our kids,” Kearney said. “Despite the halftime score, they still thought they could win the game and they fought the whole way through. That’s something good to be said. We kept fighting.”
Derek Wells led West Valley with 15 points of their 30 points. The senior point guard played his final game of his varsity career. He’s a two-year starter and served as one of West Valley’s captains, this year.
“We’re definitely going to miss him,” Kearney said. “He handles the ball for us 80 percent of the time and sets everything up. He’s my coach on the court. Derek does all of the directing, on offense and defense. Replacing him is going to be tough. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.”
Wells led the team in 3-pointers made and shot 46 percent from behind the arc. With Wells being a pass first point guard, Kearney harped on him to shoot more and be more aggressive.
“It was hard to get him to realize how good of a player he was,” Kearney said. “He had a lot of doubts about himself. As the season progressed, he started to get more and more confident and his play supported that. He started to let them fly and he started to see how talented of an offensive player he is.”
West Valley will also graduate co-captain Collin Proctor. Proctor was one of West Valley’s leading rebounders and did a lot of the “little things,” according to Kearney.
“Collin is the lead-by-example leader,” the coach said. “He does a lot of little things that we’re going to miss, next year. He’s a hard worker that does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
West Valley will return their top two scorers, in Emil Erlandson and Patrick Enser. Both players started as juniors this year and will be two of four starters who will return, next season. Jared Raz and sophomore Justin Summers will be two others that will be important assets for West Valley.
“I have high expectations for next season,” Kearney said. “Those four guys will be a nice core to build around. We will be going all guards next year, so I’m looking to do a lot more running and create a lot more mismatches in our favor, offensively.”