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Style over style

Posted: February 28, 2009 2:17 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley's Steven Thornton, left, drives to the basket on Gahr's Gipson Lyles Friday at Cerritos College. Thornton scored 41 points, despite the Grizzlies losing the game.

Golden Valley has done well this season because its style is tough to defend.

Just ask the Grizzlies themselves, who couldn't slow that style down when Gahr of Cerritos threw it right back at them.

The Gladiators closed the second quarter on a 21-7 run and withstood a 41-point effort from Golden Valley senior Steven Thornton to earn a 96-87 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIA semifinals Friday evening at Cerritos College.

Golden Valley opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 26-23 lead, but Trevor Wiseman picked up his third personal foul on a charge and Gahr (18-14) took the opportunity and ran with it.

"The charge call against Trevor changes everything in the game," said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. "That's the way things go in the game. I felt from there, we gave up a lot of second chances and that helped spur their run."

It helped the Gladiators because Golden Valley had to remove the 6-foot-6-inch Wiseman from the game and play a smaller lineup.

Gahr took advantage by using its size and athleticism to attack the Grizzlies (27-4) and build an 11-point halftime lead.

"It was a team just like us," said Golden Valley senior Ibrahim Rassoli. "Their offense comes from the defense, and they pulled it off. They wanted it more."

The Gladiators maintained their cushion the rest of the way, bolstered by Gipson Lyles' team-high 29 points and their 75 percent mark from downtown in the second and third quarters.

"They're a good team, and when they're making shots like that, it's hard," Printz said.

Just three days after teammate Maverick Ahanmisi dropped 41 points against Foothill, Thornton was aggressive the entire night and hit shots from all areas of the court to keep his team afloat.

"I just knew I had to take over the game," Thornton said. "I knew exactly what they were doing, how they wanted to play, so I knew how I had to play, so I thought I'd pick it up and play a little harder."

Neither team was sharp at the beginning of the game, but once the emotions settled down, the play picked up and Gahr's athleticism won out.

The second half saw the Gladiators run numerous cuts to the basket for easy hoops, and Golden Valley did just enough at the other end to keep Gahr uncomfortable.

"My guys didn't give up," Printz said.

Ahanmisi added 17 points for Golden Valley, while Wiseman had eight.

Davon Potts scored 24 points for Gahr, which clinches an automatic berth in the CIF state tournament.

Jerion Henry had 14 and Javonte Sales added 13.

Golden Valley finishes the season as Foothill League champions for the first time in any sport, and after the game the Grizzlies' fans surrounded the team with a standing ovation as it headed toward the locker room.

"What just happened out there, those guys deserved that, and the school deserved that," Printz said. "I'm just really lucky to have been around those guys."


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