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On Stroud nine

Diagnosed with cancer last year, Stroud starts, scores for victorious Valencia

Posted: February 7, 2009 2:37 a.m.
Updated: February 7, 2009 4:56 a.m.

Valencia senior David Stroud (25) high-fives a teammate as he is announced as a starter before Friday's game against West Ranch. Thanks to an agreement between the two schools, Stroud scored his team's first basket.

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On Friday night at Valencia High, the two most important points of the night were scored seconds into the game.

Returning to the court was senior David Stroud - cancer survivor and inspiration to his family, friends and community.

"Once I walked out, I saw my trainer, people from church and people that have no association to Valencia come here and support me," Stroud said. "It was awesome."

West Ranch and Valencia agreed that the Wildcats would score, then allow the Vikings and Stroud to make a layup.

So, with the second basket of the game, Stroud made the layup that sparked his team to a 70-64 win.

The crowd erupted. It was a sea of white shirts printed with David's name and number on the back.

Stroud was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma last April and suffered from septic shock four months after his diagnosis, but has fought back and now says the disease is "gone" from his body.
Friday's moment was all his.

"Indescribable," Stroud said. "Once in a lifetime. The support from all the fans, my team, my coaches - it's a dream."

Valencia (16-8, 4-4) then called for the substitution, and Stroud left the court to a standing ovation from Vikings and Wildcats alike.

"The whole school supports him as well as his team," said Valencia head coach Rocket Collins. "They have been playing for him the whole year anyway, but it gave them a bit of an edge."

Sophomore guard Lonnie Jackson scored a team-high 18 points with six assists and a pair of rebounds.

He scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, in which West Ranch's resurgent play cut the lead to six points with less than a minute to play.

"It was amazing. A night to remember," Jackson said. "I'll remember this my whole life. (Stroud) has battled through so much. It was really fun to be a part of this. It was David's night and no one else's."

Valencia started the game on a 10-4 run.

The momentum carried the home team to a 39-20
halftime lead.

A big reason was the play of Brennan Bernardino, who racked up 14 points on the night.

But in the second half, West Ranch (15-9, 4-4) started to chip away at the lead, in part due to senior forward/center Hakeem Bradley, who scored nine points in the third quarter and finished with 19.

"They don't have an answer for him," said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. "We knew that going in. Our game plan was to get the ball to him, but he did not touch the ball enough. He should have had 40 (points) tonight, but we don't look for him for whatever reason."

Bradley's highlight reel dunks and Anthony Yumul's eight fourth-quarter points off the bench brought the team within striking distance.

But it was not enough.

"We weren't hungry," said LeGaux. "Our guys were complacent. Valencia is the better basketball team than us. Period."

Senior Cory Otavka scored 10 points with eight rebounds for the Vikings, who have regrouped for the Foothill League stretch run.

Friday's win comes on the heels of a 30-minute team meeting following Tuesday's 75-65 home loss to Hart.

"We weren't meshing," said Jackson. "We were clashing as a team. It came out during practice. We had a closed-door meeting and we resolved it. You could see tonight that we were playing on all forces."

The Vikings will travel to Golden Valley on Tuesday while West Ranch travels to Hart, both at 6:30 p.m.

For Stroud, the game was merely the beginning of his comeback.

"I'll never stop playing," Stroud said. "Once I can again, I will do as much as I can. School, I'm going to graduate and hopefully go away to somewhere in Colorado."

With his treatment over and cancer gone, Stroud is working on regaining lung capacity and recovering from other complications that occurred during the cancer treatment.

He has been accepted to Denver University and the University of Colorado, Boulder.


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