Gavilan hoops teams tip-off new seasons

Lady Rams' freshman Keisha Webster breaks past a Yuba defender

Men’s squad suffers 90-78 loss to Chabot; Women lose first
GILROY – When the Gavilan College men’s basketball team took the floor for Friday night’s home opener against Chabot College, it marked the first game under first-time head coach Chris Shoemaker as well as the first collegiate contest for several well-known local hoopsters.

Although the outcome was not what they wanted – a 98-70 home loss – the Rams’ uptempo style and inspired play kept them in the game until a late Chabot run and, more importantly, entertained the hometown crowd.

“We battled hard,” said Shoemaker, whose squad will host College of the Redwoods in a televised game at 7 p.m. before heading to Mendocino College in Ukiah for a Saturday game at 3 p.m. “A five-point margin with 15 minutes to play expanded due to turnovers and fouls.”

But in years past, the Gavilan program has not brought in the top local high school stars – leading to low attendance at games. This season, Shoemaker made a concerted effort to recruit from the local schools. As a result, former Gilroy High stand-outs Eric Nelson and Justin ‘L.J.’ Nicholson along with former Live Oak High stand-outs Jody McAlpine and Steve Silacci are on the 20-man roster.

In Friday’s loss, Nelson, Silacci and McAlpine all netted a team-high 10 points while Nicholson contributed three points. The only returning Ram – sophomore point guard Jimmy Herrera, of Morgan Hill – finished with seven points and freshman Rodney Holland netted nine points. In all, 10 Gavilan players cracked the scoresheet.

“Although the game was out of reach for the last eight minutes, the crowd was treated to a spirited… effort,” Shoemaker said.

But there was not much the Rams could do to stop Chabot’s E.J. Castello – who finished with a game-high 37 points – and Anthony Shavie – who poured on 20 points.

At the half, the young, spirited Rams trailed 47-31. In the second half, however, Gavilan did not throw in the towel – cutting the gap to single digits with 15 minutes remaining. While McAlpine scored seven second-half points, Holland contributed six second-half points and Nelson drained a pair of treys to keep things interesting.

LADY RAMS DROP FIRST TWO: There is a new energy as well with the women’s basketball team as head coach Michelle Mannisto enters her second year with the Lady Rams. In her first season at the helm, Mannisto guided a seven-player team to a post-season berth before the team’s wins were stripped due to an ineligible player infraction.

Following Friday’s opening loss to Yuba College as part of the double-header at Gavilan College, the Lady Rams dropped a hard-fought 76-42 decision to Siskiyous on their home court.

Like the men’s squad, the Lady Rams have only one returning player – sophomore Antionette Bowe, of Gilroy. But some fresh faces with the willingness to learn as they go has Mannisto excited about another season.

Freshman Keisha Webster – a Gilroy HIgh alum – netted 13 points in the loss to Siskiyous, while teammate Noreen Bailey scored a team-high 18 points. Freshman Andrea Lupina added six points.

The Lady Rams hope to notch their first win of the young season with a Nov. 20 road game against Lassen College before competing in the Nov. 22-23 Butte Tournament.