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The team to beat

Posted: December 30, 2008 10:24 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2008 4:30 a.m.
 

For the first time in school history, Golden Valley can boast about something going into Foothill League play.

After defeating Hart 95-89 on the Indians' home court Tuesday in the Hart Holiday Classic championship game, the Grizzlies boys basketball team will enter Foothill League play on Jan. 13 as the favorite to win the league title.

No other squad in the school's five-year history will have so much heat on it going into league play.

Not even close.

It's hard to argue against their favorite status.

The Grizzlies have won two tournament titles - the Simi Valley Tip-Off Classic and the Hart tourney - and finished third place in the San Fernando Valley Invitational.

Golden Valley has defeated two Foothill opponents - Canyon and now Hart.

No other team can list those accomplishments going into league play.

And people are starting to jump on the Grizzlies' bandwagon.

Golden Valley fans began chanting the school's name during the waning moments of Monday's game, a sound rarely heard in the school's five-year history.

It was without a doubt the biggest Dec. 30 game of any kind in school history.

"This is big for our community," said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. "We're proud of that. I'm proud of my players and coaches for working five years to achieve this, but there's still a lot to do."

Printz was quick not to put the cart before the horse because another thing was determined Tuesday night.

Golden Valley is the favorite - but not by much.

The Indians, who were without three of their best players with two minutes to play in the game because they fouled out, still managed to score 89 points.

On top of that, Hart owns a victory against Golden Valley this season - a 63-60 win on Dec. 22.

"They're good, very good," Hart head coach Tom Kelly said of the Grizzlies. "But league's going to be a knock-down-drag-out fight. It will truly be six teams playing for first."

Yet it was the Grizzlies' night to shine Monday.

And though it means very little right now, it's somewhat of a landmark for the school and another sign that the athletics department of the school is trying to pull itself out of the doldrums.

"It was rough," said four-year varsity starter Maverick Ahanmisi on dealing with Golden Valley's reputation.

But things are different, Ahanmisi said. Especially with his team.

"This year we have what we lacked (last year)," he said. "Leadership. We're not just one person."

Ahanmisi scored 25 points Monday, including a 3-pointer from 10 feet off the 3-point line.

Erick Serrano, a guard with an effortless stroke, led the team with 26.

Then 6-foot-6-inch forward Trevor Wiseman added 16.

All that and tournament MVP Stevie Thornton scored just eight points.

They can rebound.

And they play a style that usually stops Foothill League teams cold in the playoffs - a fast transition game.

But will they play defense?

Printz is emphatic that they do.

The Grizzlies are now 12-1.

The question that presents itself now is: Will this team have staying power?

Golden Valley didn't last year.

It started 10-4 last season before going 0-10 in league.

Cary Osborne is The Signal's sports editor. He can be reached at cosborne@the-signal.com. His views reflect his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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