The Wolverines were able to keep things in check for the most part, and took control of the game after halftime on their way to an 81-59 victory.
The Panthers saw their chance to take their first lead of the game shortly before halftime. After they entered the second quarter down 16-7, they spent that quarter chipping away at the Deer Valley lead, getting as close as one point after a pair of free throws by senior guard Namuji Madoshi.
But trailing 30-29 late, Antioch was whistled for a technical foul, allowing Wolverines junior guard Charles Smith to sink two free throws. Up by two at halftime, Deer Valley opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run, effectively distancing itself from the Panthers. The Wolverines led by as much as 17 in the third quarter.
“It’s our rivalry, so we’ve got to get the victory on this one,” Smith said. “We really feel like we’re the best team out here, like no one can stop us.”
Deer Valley junior guard Olajuwon Garner scored a game-high 31 points. Senior forward Andre McPhail contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds. Smith delivered some timely three-point shooting, finishing with 17 points and 13 assists.
For Antioch, senior forward Michael Crawley led the team with 20 points. Madoshi also played a solid game, notching 17.
The win bumped the Wolverines up to 13-3. The Panthers fell to 7-10.
Deer Valley head coach LeChet Phillips praised his team’s ability to stay physical but not let emotions run too high. Phillips noted that Antioch is a talented team, something it proved in the second quarter, so the Wolverines had to maintain focus.
“These guys, I really don’t have to say a lot,” Phillips said. “It’s a basketball game. We’re out here to have fun, just do what you do best.”
Deer Valley travels to Pittsburg on Friday while the Panthers head to Brentwood to play defending league champion Heritage.
The Wolverines also took the junior varsity game 62-53. Deer Valley saw a stellar performance from DeChaunte Wilson, who posted 23 points on the night. Antioch was paced by Eddie Johnson and his 22 points.
Liberty 47, Pittsburg 39
Pittsburg High saw something special Friday night in the first BVAL game at its new gym. Unfortunately for the Pirates, it was Liberty getting its first league victory since 2008. With a strong defensive effort, the Lions pounced on Pittsburg, winning 47-39.
Sophomore guard Brandon White scored a team-high 19 points. Junior guard Francisco Cortez came down with nine rebounds and recorded four steals.
Liberty head coach Jon Heinz praised the team effort his squad put in, advancing their record to 9-7 overall.
“These kids have bought in,” Heinz said. “They deserved it. They worked very hard. I have 11 kids that will play hard night in, night out.”
The Lions and Pirates were tied up going into the fourth quarter. It was a three-pointer with about two minutes left in the game by guard Matt Sisneros – one of three seniors on the team – that clinched the game for Liberty. From that point on, said Heinz, the Lions just rolled.
The coach also praised Cortez’s defensive work. Cortez was matched up with Pittsburg’s leading scorer, Kristopher Manning, and held him to 10 points. The Lions were able to prevent Manning and the other Pirates from playing to their strength, stifling them on the perimeter. Heinz said Pittsburg normally attempts 30 to 40 three-pointers per game, but were held to around 10 attempts on Friday night.
“The kids are excited,” Heinz said. “They were begging me to practice tomorrow.”
On Friday, Liberty hosts Freedom while the Pirates welcome Deer Valley.