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Hello, Foothill

Golden Valley welcomes Hart with a big victory to start league play

Posted: January 13, 2009 10:28 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley guard Maverick Ahanmisi (13) glides to the basket past Hart's Patrick Abbott Tuesday at Golden Valley High. Ahanmisi's 16 points led the Grizzlies in the victory.

 
Golden Valley looked impressive in the pre-league season, but the Grizzlies still had to hear about how they hadn't won a league game in almost two years.

Not anymore.

The normally high-scoring Grizzlies struggled from the field, but used their pressure defense to hassle Hart in the second half and earn a 63-55 victory in Tuesday night's Foothill League opener at Hart High.

"I'm really proud of our guys," said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. "We played really bad, but the difference was maturity. Last year we wouldn't have continued to believe, but tonight we did."

Trailing 35-28 late in the third, the Grizzlies (16-1, 1-0) closed out the quarter on a 9-1 run that was keyed by Hart mistakes that led to transition points.

"The way they turned defense into baskets, that hurt us," said Hart head coach Tom Kelly.

Golden Valley gradually pulled away in the fourth quarter with more pressure in the open court, but had difficulty setting up its press because of the missed shots.

"We really struggled shooting," Printz said. "It's hard to get into our pressure defense without making shots."

The Grizzlies shot a frigid 16 percent in the first half and scored just 14 points, well below their season averages.

Hart, however, only shot 29 percent and couldn't capitalize on Golden Valley's difficulties. It didn't help that starting guards Patrick Abbott and Brad Wyche got into foul trouble early.

"I thought the game was poorly officiated," Kelly said. "It was poorly officiated both ways."

Golden Valley guards Stevie Thornton and Maverick Ahanmisi also spent much of the second quarter on the bench because of foul trouble, and with the way the team played in the first half, the Grizzlies weren't immune to thoughts of previous Foothill League failures.

"It kind of crept into our heads a little bit," said Thornton, who transferred from Crenshaw in the offseason but heard all about past struggles from his teammates.

Fortunately for the Grizzlies, this game was in their gym.
"The crowd helped us out a lot," Ahanmisi said. "Our teammates helped us out a lot, too."

Indeed, Golden Valley pulled together and scored 49 second-half points to bury the Indians (11-7, 0-1).

That doesn't mean Hart stopped fighting.

Ben Kimble scored 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second and third quarters and helped keep Hart in front.

Once Golden Valley stormed ahead and took a 12-point lead with two minutes to play, Wyche nailed a 3-pointer while being fouled and converted the four-point play. Following a stop at the other end, Wyche converted a three-point play to bring Hart within five points at 58-53.

From there, Golden Valley took care of business at the free throw line to seal the victory.

"For a lot of our guys, that was their introduction to the Foothill League," Printz said. "It was nice to see the way they responded. You take from it what you take from every game. You go home, look at the tape and work to get better."

Ahanmisi scored 16 points to lead Golden Valley, while Trevor Wiseman added 15 and Khatari Price hit 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Wyche added 14 points and Parker Dominguez had 11 for Hart.

But it wasn't enough to stop Golden Valley from getting back into the Foothill League win column.


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