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Vikings basketball: Vikes’ discomfort

Valencia boys’ early undefeated run comes to an end

Posted: December 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Riley Honaker (22) lays the ball up against Grant’s Gurgen Harutyunyan on Wednesday night at Canyon High in the Canyon Classic tournament. Valencia lost the game 63-61.

Valencia entered the second day of the Canyon Classic on Wednesday night at Canyon High School looking to continue its undefeated start to the season.

And up 12 points in the second half, it looked as though the Vikings were well on their way against Grant High of Van Nuys.

That is until the Lancers’ Tullio Parry pulled down an offensive rebound with under 30 seconds to play and put back a layup to give Grant a one-point lead en route to a 63-61 come-from-behind victory over the Vikings.

The Vikings (5-1) had two good looks at the basket in the waning seconds, as Troy Hammel missed a two-point shot and Garret Mike missed an open three at the buzzer.

“I came down and called a play,” Hammel said of the final plays. “I wanted the ball in my hands. We got the shot we wanted and the ball didn’t fall.”

Valencia struggled early, falling behind 19-10 after the first quarter and shooting just 31 percent in the game’s opening frame.

The Vikings, though, rallied behind 13 second-quarter points by Hammel — who finished with 21 points — to shoot 70 percent in the period and pull ahead at the break 37-31.

Valencia center Zach Davis finished with 14 points and four rebounds and Michael Zerpoli led the Vikings with nine rebounds.
“We played better defense,” said head coach Rocket Collins of why the Vikings were able to rally for the lead. “And then we stopped playing and didn’t move the ball.”

That came back to hurt the Vikings, who opened up a 51-39 lead late in the third quarter only to see the Lancers (2-0) inch back into the game, largely due to the play of 6-foot, 7-inch center Gor Plavchyan.

Plavchyan scored a game-high 26 points — including 11 points in the fourth quarter — and finished with nine rebounds.
“We talked about (being down) at halftime and put everything together at the end. We got stops and hit free throws,” Plavchyan said through interpreter Gurgen Harutyunyan.
For Valencia, the Vikings hope the game serves as a wake-up call after a successful start to their preleague season.

“I think we got off to such a good start (to the season),” Hammel said. “We were almost too comfortable.”

The Vikings will look for a stronger finish today at 4:30 p.m. when they take on Eastside High School in their third game of the tournament.


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