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Golden Valley boys basketball: Made adjustments

Golden Valley trio rebounded from issues at another school and are now vital to the Grizzlies

Posted: February 3, 2010 10:26 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley basketball players, from left to right, Brandon Hale, Khatari Price and Joe Darko started their high school basketball careers at Valencia High, but since arriving at Golden Valley have seen success on the court.

 
Things don't always work out the way you plan.

Khatari Price, Joe Darko and Brandon Hale had a science class together as freshmen at Valencia High School, and they bonded immediately.

All three wanted to play basketball at the school, but they were academically ineligible according to the Vikings' coaching staff.

Instead of moping about the situation, the three players transferred to Golden Valley and refocused.

"You could do two things," Darko says. "Panic about the situation and let it take over you or try to improve. That depends on how much you love the game."

They love the game enough to put in the work to succeed in Golden Valley's program.

Now, the three seniors are helping the Grizzlies on their quest to win a second straight Foothill League championship.

Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz says the dedication of Price, Darko and Hale is a big part of that.

"The hardest thing about building from scratch is not having the leadership," Printz says. "We're finally to that point and it's a luxury."

For different reasons, athletes have transferred to Golden Valley over the years. That group includes other players on this year's team like Taylor Statham and Jake Martin, who Printz says transferred from Hart and Saugus, respectively.

Together, the Grizzlies are in position to successfully defend their Foothill League title.

Price wasn't sure he'd ever get the chance.

His stepfather is Golden Valley assistant boys basketball coach Larry Keys, so the school seemed like a natural destination when he transferred after his freshman year.

He made the junior varsity team at Golden Valley in 2007-08, but he saw the varsity team struggle to an 0-10 mark in the Foothill League.

"I actually talked to my stepdad a lot about it," Price says. "I didn't want to be part of something not successful. He told me to keep working at it."

Price did so, and he earned a rotation spot on the varsity team his junior year, helping the Grizzlies capture the school's first Foothill League championship.

He says the speed of the game at the varsity level is much faster than he expected, and that seemingly every player is tall and strong.

Price had to be strong to rebound when things didn't work out at Valencia.

"If I were to get fired from my job, I'm not going to sit at home and not look for another job," Price says.

Darko's job on a nightly basis is to defend the other team's toughest players.

He's glad to have it, considering he didn't even play basketball as a junior.

He played for Valencia his first two years but parted ways with the program the summer after his sophomore season.

Darko remained at the school and watched from the stands.

"I got to see what was wrong in my game, so I could break down my game and fix what was wrong," Darko says.

He also says he wouldn't be where he is if he didn't get to play with some of Valencia's talented players, including Terrez Scott, John Otavka and Ralph and Emmanuel Anumba.

Taking a cue from those players, Darko was willing to learn when he transferred to Golden Valley.

"The coaches told me to work on my shot and ballhandling," he says. "I took that to mind. I wasn't going to be mad. I wanted to be like a sponge and just get better."

Darko's strength is his defense, however, and he gives Golden Valley's second unit a boost.

Hale had to boost himself when he first came to Golden Valley after his sophomore year.

"It hit my confidence, but I knew I had the talent to be part of something big," Hale says.

Hale saw some practices over the summer at Golden Valley, and he knew some of the players, as did Price and Darko.

But he wasn't handed anything.

"I had to come in and work for everything," he says.

Hale was put on the junior varsity squad, where he and Statham helped the Grizzlies win the Foothill League championship in 2009.

Now, he's a starter for the varsity team and feels the support from the school.

"It feels like this is a big family," Hale says. "The graduating class from last year checks up on us and comes to games."

Soon, Price, Darko and Hale will be former Grizzlies themselves.

Printz says they're a good fit at Golden Valley because of their abilities in the open floor, both on offense and defense.

More importantly, they've rebounded from a tough situation.

"There have been others who have transferred and it hasn't worked out," Printz says. "It says something about them."


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