It can be difficult to identify the go-to guy on the Amador Valley High boys basketball team because the Dons roll as a group.
Any one of five starters can threaten an opponent.
"Our team is pretty difficult to match up with," an understating Dons coach Ralph Fields said.
Which helps explain Fields' optimism for the season and the Dons' two tournament titles out of two attempts.
Last week, the Dons (6-0) swept Deer Valley and Las Lomas in the their own ABC Tournament before besting San Leandro 72-68 in double overtime in the championship game on Dec. 14. The Dons also won the El Dorado Gold Dust tournament title with a 52-51 win over tough Del Oro in the championship game on Dec. 7.
Even with Amador Valley's unselfish approach, junior forward Stokley Chaffee has risen to a lead role. He was named MVP in both tournaments after averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds a game in the ABC and 18 points and 10 boards in the Gold Dust.
In addition to Chaffee, the Dons' starting five boasts shooting forward Scott Rasnick, shooting guard Brandon Ruotolo, point guard Max Molz, and 6-foot-7 center Glenn Leininger. In the ABC final, Rasnick had 22 points, including going 13 for 15 from the free throw line. In a 69-66 overtime win over Las Lomas, Ruotolo had 15 points on five three-point field goals.
Fields describes his players as "really good kids." Almost to a fault: He said the coaches worried that the team was passing too much at one point. Things are set up for next season as well, with only two seniors among the Dons' top nine players.
Amador Valley's boys basketball program has an illustrious history, dating back 38 years. Legendary former head coach Skip Mohatt guided the Dons to 10 East Bay Athletic League championships, including nine in a row, before stepping down after the 1980-81 season. After succeeding Mohatt, head coach Don Underwood earned nine EBAL and four North Coast Section championships, along with a 1993 NorCal title. Underwood resigned in 2006 after a 25-year run.
In his sixth season, Fields says his current squad is "by far and away the best team" he's had. The Dons' balance helps them in the close games, which helps explain the back-to-back overtime wins in the ABC and the thriller over Del Oro.
The EBAL appears to have another robust cast, with Amador Valley, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley all entering the week unbeaten.
De La Salle, which has won the last five straight league titles, including sharing the crown once with San Ramon Valley, was runner-up in the Chris Vontoure Spartan Classic. The Wolves won their own John May Holiday Classic with a 50-48 win over Dougherty Valley in the championship game on Dec. 13. Wolves senior David Gunn, who is 6-foot-9, was named tournament MVP after scoring 15 points. All-tourney selection Jerry Karcewski had a game-high 17 points.
High-scoring Granada entered the week with five straight wins, and California and Livermore each had winning records, so the EBAL is shaping as another knockdown battle.
Respectful of the EBAL's power, Fields remains confident that the Dons can give everyone a "good game." And that's pretty much all a coach can ask for.