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Grizz look to amaze Gahr

Posted: February 27, 2009 1:23 a.m.
Updated: February 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
First, Golden Valley was dominant in its pre-league season.

Then, the Grizzlies won the first Foothill League title of any kind in school history.

Now Golden Valley will look to continue its run through the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIA postseason, representing a league that saw four teams reach the CIF quarterfinals.

“Golden Valley carrying the flag for the Foothill League,” said head coach Chris Printz. “That kind of sounds like life on Mars.”

Regardless of what it sounds like, the Grizzlies can earn a berth in the Division IIIA finals with a win at 7:30 p.m. against Gahr High School of Cerritos at Cerritos College.

Despite the whirlwind over the past few weeks, Golden Valley has its sights set on that goal.

“I’m focused on Gahr, and I think our players are pretty focused on what’s next,” Printz said. “There have obviously been moments where we got to enjoy it, but I think it’s going to be a long while before we can sit back and relax. It is kind of surreal.”

Gahr will provide a quick reality check.

Under head coach Bob Becker, Gahr entered the playoffs as the eighth seed at 14-14. The Gladiators hail from the San Gabriel Valley League, home to national powerhouse Dominguez High School.

In its non-league slate, Gahr faced a pair of defending CIF champions, beating Campbell Hall of North Hollywood 70-66 and losing to Mater Dei of Santa Ana by 24 points.

Those games, Becker noted, helped the Gladiators get ready for the postseason, where they have already knocked off top-seeded Diamond Ranch to reach the semifinals.

“We’ve been preparing all season for games like this,” Becker said. “We wanted to make sure we scheduled very tough. It’s paying off for us like we expected it to pay off.”

Gahr (17-14) features a balanced offense led by senior forward Devin Golston, who’s averaging 24.4 points per game this season.

Fellow senior forward Gipson Lyles and sophomore point guard Davon Potts add around 13 points per game, but several others can step up and help the Gladiators at both ends of the floor.

“They’re a very talented team,” Printz said. “They love to force the tempo of the game. Made basket, missed basket, they’re going to try and bring it in transition and score on you.”

Golden Valley (27-3) will be led by the talented trio of Maverick Ahanmisi, Steven Thornton and Trevor Wiseman.

Ahanmisi is coming off a 41-point effort against Foothill in the quarterfinals, and his explosiveness had Becker drawing comparisons to his own team.

“We’re a lot like (Golden Valley),” Becker said. “We put pressure on you deep. We try to turn you over and we’re strong going to the basket. We’re pretty athletic. It’s going to be a fun game to watch.”

And there figures to be a lot of people at Cerritos College to watch it.

The game was originally going to be played at Cerritos High School, but according to Becker, the gym couldn’t hold the expected crowd so the game was moved to Artesia High School in Lakewood.

Those plans were changed again when it was determined that the visitors bleachers at Artesia were too far from the court, so the game relocated to Cerritos College Gymnasium, which lists capacity at 3,200.

Even though the game is less than two miles from Gahr High School, Printz feels that the Golden Valley faithful will be well-represented.

“It’s almost as though there’s been a transformation of our school,” he said. “I can’t even talk about how great the support’s been. When the school started playing basketball, they’d only pull out one side of the bleachers. Now, people stop me and ask me about the team, how we’re doing. It’s amazing.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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