Bay Valley Conference Review

As we take a look into the Bay Valley Conference at the midway point in the season, Merritt and College of the Marin have emerged as the favorites going into conference play which begins January 2nd. The Thunderbirds are 10-2 going into conference and have been one of the top teams in Northern California throughout the season. College of the Marin surprised many especially after opening the season dominating San Francisco on the road. The Mariners have not let up and will take a 9-2 record into conference play. One surprise of the conference has been the play of Yuba. The 49ers have lost 6 of their first 9 games and have lost three straight games going into conference play. If Yuba can get things going, they should challenge both teams at the top of the Bay Valley Conference. Napa, Mendocino and Contra Costa have all had mediocre seasons so far and will need to finish at least 3rd to sneak into the playoffs in my opinon. Solano and Alameda have both struggled and things will not get any easier for both teams as conference starts.

Below is how Signal The Light Basketball had the Bay Valley Conference picked in order before the season started.

Taking a look back at our Preseason Signal The Light Bay Valley Projections

1. Yuba (3-6) Signal The Light Basketball had Yuba projected to be the top team in the Bay Valley Conference. They started the season as the 3rd ranked team in our Norcal rankings and have struggled to a 3-6 record. The talent is there, but will they be able to bring it together and be a team that can make a run and get into the playoffs. Yuba will open up conference play on January 2nd on the road against Solano.

Key Players:  (Fr) “6-2” JoJo Zamora 16.4 points 4.7 assist, (Fr) “6-8” Manny Malou 15.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, (Fr) “6-6” Vasilje Saraba 16.9 points, Barry Ogalue

Losses: Fresno, American River, Mt. San Jacinto and Columbia.

2. Merritt (10-2) The third ranked Thunderbirds have been in the Norcal rankings throughout the season. Merritt started off the season as the 7th ranked team in the Northern California Signal The Light Basketball rankings. Merritt has played solid basketball and will be a team to beat in conference play and should make a deep post season run with their talent. Merritt has been a consistent team so far this season and I don’t expect that to change as conference approaches. The Thunderbirds will open up conference play on the road January 2nd against Contra Costa.

Key Players: (So) “5-10” Leo Smith 15.1 ppg, (Fr) “6-4” Jovantae Carlton 13.2 ppg, (So) “6-2” Denzel Bellot 9.9 ppg, (Fr) “6-0” Rodney Pope 9.9 ppg.

Wins: San Jose, Diablo Valley, Ohlone, Bakersfield

Losses: Lassen, Ohlone

3. Contra Costa (3-7) We had the Comets picked third in the preseason poll. Contra Costa started the season off 2-1 and have lost 6 of their last 7 games. In order to have a legit shot at the playoffs, I think Contra Costa will have to win at least 11 games in conference to have a chance to get into the postseason. The Comets will open up Bay Valley Conference play at home against 3rd ranked Merritt.

Key Players: (So) “5-8” Dawson Johnson 13.2 ppg, “6-2” Tajai Johsnon 12.3 ppg, “6-3” Justin Johnson 10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg.

 Win: Diablo Valley

Losses: San Jose, Saddleback, San Bernardino, Butte.

4. College of Marin (9-2) 8th ranked College of Marin has been playing great basketball in the first two months of the season. I think people wondered if they were for real after the first weekend after the San Francisco Tournament, but the Mariners have made that clear by starting off the season at 9-2. Five Mariner players average in double figures and they should battle Merritt for the conference championship. Marin will open up Bay Valley Conference play against Los Medanos on the road January 2nd.

Key Players: (So) “6-4” Pierre Carter 11.9 points, (Fr) “6-2” Luke Chavez 11.7 points, (Fr) “6-3” Willie Rooks 11.5 ppg, (Fr) “5-11” George Johnson 10.4 points, (So) “6-5” Brandon Kenilvort 10.0 points, 5.6 rebounds.

Wins: San Francisco, San Diego, @ Lassen, Feather River

Losses: Mt. San Antonio, College of the Canyons.

5. Alameda (0-8) Alameda has struggled to a bad start and will go into conference winless. Alameda has lost eight straight games and will look to be competitive in conference. Alameda will look to pick up its first win on the season in the conference opener at home against Mendocino January 2nd.

Key Players:  (So) “6-5” Cruz Ginns Jr. 23.2 points and 7.0 rebounds, (Fr) “6-5” Terrell Nelson 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Losses: Skyline, Delta, Chabot (2), Feather River, and San Jose.

6. Los Medanos (3-8) Los Medanos will look to make a playoff run as conference rolls around. The have lost to five different Signal The Light ranked teams and four of their last five games. Los Medanos will need a great conference run to have a chance at the Norcal playoffs. Los Medanos will open up conference play at home against College of Marin January 2nd.

Key Players: (So) “5-8” Brandon Silva 11.6 points, 3.7 assist, (So) “6-4” Wayne Engelstad 11.8 points 5.4 rebounds, (Fr) Wayne Johnson Jr. 10.7 points, 8.9 rebounds.

Win: Feather River

Losses: Feather River, Lassen, Cosumnes River, American River, Marin.

7. Mendocino (4-6) Mendocino started the season off 2-1 at the Cuesta Tournament. Since the first weekend, Mendocino has had a 2-5 record. Mednocino will need to have 10 wins in conference in order to have a shot at the playoffs in my opinion. Mendocino will open conference play on the road January 2nd against Alameda.

Key Players: (Fr) “6-1” Corey James Jr. 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, (So) “6-3” Chris Ketter 12.8 points 11.0 rebounds. (Fr) “6-0” Paul Steliga 9.7 points 7.7 assist.

Losses: Skyline and Columbia

8. Solano (2-7) Solano had only three games in December and last weekend went 1-2 at the Chabot Tournament. Solano picked up a win against Palomar but lost to Antelope Valley and Porterville. Solano has one other win against Reedley early in so it may be a struggle for Solano in conference. Solano will open up their conference schedule January 2nd at home against Yuba.

Key Players: (So) “5-10” Donovan Smith 18.3 points, (Fr) “6-1” Jaimon Robinson 11.3 points, (Fr) “6-3” Javon Adams 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds

Losses: Feather River (2), Skyline, Antelope Valley.

9. Napa Valley (5-6) Napa has had a season full of streaks. Napa started off the season with two straight losses, then followed that up with two wins. The Storm then went on to lose two more games, and followed that up with three consecutive wins including two wins at the Modesto Tournament. Napa will be towards the top of the conference, but the question will be where and will it be enough to get them into the postseason. Napa will start conference play January 6th on the road against Merritt.

Key Players: (So) “6-6” Ben Jazuk 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, (So) “6-3” Corey Burrell 9.9 points, (Fr) “6-0” Jalen Dupree 9.6 points 3.4 assist.

Losses: San Diego, Cosumnes River (2), Chabot, Diablo Valley, San Francisco.


Leo Smith (Merritt), Denzel Bellot (Merritt), Pierre Carter (Marin), Brandon Kenilvort (Marin), Donovan Smith (Solano), Cruz Ginns Jr (Alameda), Chris Ketter (Mendocino), Dawson Johnson (Contra Costa), Tajai Johnson (Contra Costa), Ben Jazuk (Napa), Wayne Englestad (Los Medanos), Brandon Silva (Los Medanos), Miller Blake (Marin), Michael Escobedo (Mendocino) Travon King (Merritt), Jamelle Corbino (Merritt), Barry Ogalue (Yuba)


Jovantae Carlton (Merritt), Luke Chavez (Marin), Willie Rooks (Marin), George Johnson (Marin), Jalen Dupree (Napa), Corey James Jr. (Mendocino), Paul Steliga (Mendocino), Noel Crabtree (Mendocino), Rodney Pope (Merritt), Bronte Dickerson (Alameda), Terrell Nelson (Alameda), Jabraile Newkirk (Contra Costa), Byron Buckley (Contra Costa), DJ Kennedy (Merritt), Jalen Coates (Yuba), Jo’sef Zamora (Yuba), Manny Malou (Yuba), Vasilje Saraba (Yuba), Wayne Johnson Jr. (Los Medanos)

Bay Valley Conference Play will open up January 2nd.

Mendocino @ Alameda 7pm

(9) Marin @ Los Medanos 7:30pm

Yuba @ Solano 7:30pm

Merrit @ Contra Costa Jan 3rd


1. Merritt (10-2)

2. College of Marin (9-2)

3. Yuba (3-6)

4. Mendocino (4-6)

5. Napa (5-6)

6. Contra Costa (3-7)

7. Los Medanos (3-8)

8. Solano (2-7)

9. Alameda (0-8)