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Foothill League boys basketball: Early closers

Valencia turns a close game into a blowout late

Posted: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s James Glass (42) takes the ball to the rim as Golden Valley’s Joey Quintanilla (23) and Nick Billy (11) defend on Tuesday at Golden Valley High in the teams’ Foothill League opener.

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The tempo was relatively slow and the shots weren’t falling for either team.

It wasn’t exactly ideal for defending Foothill League boys basketball champion Valencia.

But the Vikings kept chugging along and they made enough plays when it mattered in the second half to end up as 75-46 winners over Golden Valley to open up league play on Tuesday night at Golden Valley High.

The final score didn’t accurately indicate how close of a game it was in the first half. But a big third quarter helped Valencia (13-3, 1-0) turn a 31-24 halftime lead into a rout.

“They came out with a fire that’s expected in league, and the newcomers weren’t ready for that,” said Valencia forward Daniel Salovich said of Golden Valley. “We just had to make the adjustments.”

For the most part, it simply came down to the Vikings getting the ball to the big men inside, which put the pressure on an otherwise stingy Golden Valley defense.

Eventually, Valencia’s front court began to establish itself in the paint and get to the free-throw line — none more than Salovich.

He finished with 12 points, all off free throws.

His work inside opened up shots for teammate Troy Hammel, who posted 18 points to lead all scorers.

“We had the size advantage, so we just decided to push the ball inside,” said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins.

The Vikings’ runaway began midway through the third quarter when center James Glass hit a 3-pointer shortly before Hammel knocked down back-to-back threes of his own to polish off a 15-3 run against the cold-shooting Grizzlies (5-12, 0-1).

Valencia led 44-27 at the 3:58 mark of the third, and it never got much closer.

“The score was 30-plus points, but we’re playing really well as a team,” said Golden Valley point guard Tristan Peralta, who co-led the team with nine points. “We’ve just got to bring those turnovers down.”

Tuesday’s turnover total for the Grizzlies was 20, and the shooting percentage didn’t help either.

Golden Valley made just 29 percent of its field-goal attempts, partly thanks to Valencia’s pressure defense throughout the game.

“As a team, that’s what we expect to do,” Salovich said of the defense. “We should always expect to do that.”

The Grizzlies opted to play halfcourt, zone defense most of the game, but it was working for most of the first half.

Golden Valley led 6-4 until the 2:10 mark of the first quarter and trailed just 10-9 by the start of the second.

Center Joey Quintanilla also scored nine for the Grizzlies.

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