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Prep hoops: Vikes give Cents a sample

Valencia’s Troy Hammel scores 31 points and leads team to pre-league win over Saugus

Posted: December 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.

WEST HILLS - This game had it all.

Momentum shifts, hard-nosed defense and it came down to the wire.

The story of the night quickly became about Valencia guard Troy Hammel, though.

His game-high 31 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, helped Valencia secure a 60-53 win over Saugus to take third place in the Chaminade Christmas Classic on Thursday at Chaminade High School in West Hills.

"I just wanted the ball real bad in the fourth quarter and I had to find my shot," said Hammel, who also scored a school-record 45 points against Campbell Hall two nights earlier.

The Vikings (10-2) fell behind by as many as 11 points in the second half, but strong defense and a pair of 3-pointers from Malik McCowan off the bench got them back in the game.

Hammel picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter and returned early in the fourth with his team trailing 44-41.

The senior scored the final seven points of the game, including a three-point play with a layup and free throw with 1:00 left to put Valencia up 56-53.

Saugus (9-5) turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and Hammel found himself with the ball in his hands once again with 14 seconds left.

At that point, Centurions junior Chris Lockwood was called for an intentional foul after knocking Hammel to the ground.

The officials then handed Lockwood a technical foul and ejected him from the game for arguing the call.

Hammel nailed all four free throws to set the final score.

"In the second half, we got too cute," said Saugus head coach Derek Ballard. "We started doing things that aren't in our arsenal, trying to get Hammel his fifth foul."

For most of the game, the Centurions pressure defense kept them in control.

After a 12-12 first quarter, Saugus went on a 7-0 run to open up a 22-14 lead midway through the second.

Jeremy Gatewood led the team with 12 points and Lockwood finished with 11, eight of which came in the second.

Each time Saugus opened up a lead though, the Vikings found a way to rally back, cutting it to a 27-23 Saugus advantage by halftime.

"We kept our poise," said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. "I called a couple of timeouts just to calm them down."

Those timeouts were especially needed in the third quarter when a Gatewood spot-up three gave the Centurions a 39-28 lead at the 2:17 mark.

Again, Valencia broke the press enough times and finished the third on a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 41-39.

"We ended the third quarter really well and we knew momentum was on our side," Hammel said. "We knew we just had to keep playing defense."

Michael Zerpoli was Valencia's second-leading scorer with eight points.

The Vikings were without starting forward Zach Davis, who injured his ankle in the Canyon Classic earlier in the month.




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