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Athletic Oakmont surges past Bella Vista

Mobley leads Vikings to season-opening win
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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An athletic attacking approach lifted the Oakmont High boys basketball team past Bella Vista in its official season opener Tuesday night on the road. The Vikings relied on their size and superior athleticism inside to control the contest after intermission as they rolled to a 62-41 win. Leading by just two at the break, Oakmont limited the Broncos to just seven points in the third period and just six in the fourth on the way to the 21-point final margin. A year ago, Bella Vista reached Arco Arena and the section semifinals after knocking off a pair of Sierra Foothill League teams in playoff contests, but this team has a very different look. The top seven players on last season’s Bronco squad were seniors, so coach David Gonzalez is in the process of rebuilding his roster. “They are not the same BV team they've been the last few years, but they are well coached and always play hard,” said Oakmont coach Rick Campbell. Oakmont gains it greatest advantage in the paint, where 6-foot-8 senior Tony Gill and 6-foot-6 junior J.T. Adenrele are both long and explosive. That duo hooked up with some solid high-low passing combinations and post play on the offensive end, and gave the Vikings an edge on defense and on the boards. “On offense, we are pretty basic right now,” Campbell said. “But we are looking to work inside-out with some high-low. Tony and J.T. have only been playing together for a little while, but I think they understand how they can help each other and they do a nice job of looking for each other. We have more sets to put in and I think we will only be better as we move along.” The biggest revelation for Oakmont came at the point guard position, where 6-3 Fred Mobley is coming along nicely. The senior was active at the defensive end, with four steals and great perimeter defense, but he also grabbed seven rebounds, blocked two shots and dished out four assists. Mobley’s complete game was on full display as he put together a combination of 3-pointers and strong drives to the rim for 14 points after intermission. He was masterful at exploiting openings in the Bronco defense and getting to the bucket and his spectacular dunk in the final stanza put an exclamation on the night for Oakmont. “He (Mobley) has always had great instincts,” Campbell said. “In the past he would tend to look for his own opportunities, which makes things difficult when that comes from your point guard. We worked on that over the summer and Fred has simply looked to be a point guard and a leader. As you saw, when he looks to facilitate for others first, and simply takes the opportunities the come to him, he makes himself and those around him better. He will be a key player for us all year.” It's not like the inexperience Broncos had no answers. Bella Vista had its own pair of talented inside players in 6-4 bookends T.J. Jackson and Anthony Serena. Jackson scored 12 points and nabbed four steals while Serena led his team in scoring with 13 points. With 6-2 senior guard Alex Ford providing the outside shooting, and alternating 6-4 forwards Nathaniel Grady and Eric Marten delivering some toughness, this Oakmont team was solid at both ends of the floor. There were areas that still need work, but the athletic ability of this Oakmont roster makes it a much-improved team, especially on defense. “Our defense hasn't really changed at all,” Campbell said. “What has changed is the size and athleticism of the group as a whole. We are more athletic at all spots this year, which allows us to extend our pressure up the floor.” Mobley scored 20 points to lead all scorers, while Gill added 15 and nine rebounds for Oakmont. Ford scored 12 points and Adenrele knocked down eight points to go with a team-high 10 boards. “Overall, we have a lot to work on,” Campbell said. “But a little size and athleticism helps cover a lot of things. I think last night showed that if they simply buy in to the team concept on both ends of the floor, we can be pretty good.” It does not get any easier for the Vikings as they have a tough draw back inside the same Bella Vista gym this weekend. Oakmont is participating in the Bronco Basketball Roundup, and it drew Franklin (Elk Grove), Yuba City and Pleasant Grove in its half of the draw. Those three squads were all playoff teams last season and are expected to return strong rosters for this campaign. The Vikings face Pleasant Grove in their tourney opener at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the night’s final contest.