The Wolverines announced their trés trey strategy from the get-go when Marco Perey launched one successfully to begin their scoring; then followed it up a couple minutes for their second field goal. Perey briefly went cold, missing the next two bombs, but Olajuwon Garner took up the long-ball cudgel, netting a three and then another at the first-quarter buzzer to put Deer Valley up 14-11.
In the second quarter, however, just as many Wolverines bombs clanged off the rim or missed it entirely as went in. The Falcons tied it up at 27 at the half with the help of a couple of threes of their own by Nick Blount.
In the second half the Deer Valley boys took a playbook page from the Deer Valley girls, who specialize in the full-court press. The trapping pressure resulted in numerous Falcon turnovers, but the Wolverines weren’t able to capitalize on many of them. Freedom’s Andrew Garner became more aggressive on offense, taking the ball to the hole, and it was still anybody’s game as Freedom trailed 44-46 at the end of the third quarter.
The Wolverines’ tenacious D, combined with more three-pointers by Olajuwon Garner, began to wear down the Falcons in the final period. With three minutes to play, Deer Valley pulled out to a 13-point lead.
But the Falcons, playing on their home court, weren’t about to roll over. Andrew Garner again took charge, taking the ball the length of the court, getting fouled on a layup and making the free throw, followed by a foul on a three-point attempt in which he made two of the three free throws. Freedom closed the gap to eight points, but it was too little too late.
“I thought our guys played a hell of a game in the second half,” said Deer Valley Coach Richard Morton. “The first half we were a little lethargic. I wanted to stress to the guys how important it was to finish out our last three, four games on a good note. If we can do that, some good things can happen for us.
“I want to take my hat off to the guys. Freedom was really (wanting) to win this one. (Deer Valley) showed a lot of character, for our guys to win. Our guys played hard, and I told them that any time they do that, good things can happen for them.”
Deer Valley’s Garner was the game-high scorer with 23 points while Freedom’s Garner scored 22 and Perey 18. Deer Valley, which is now 13-9 overall (8-4 in league play), hosts Pittsburg tonight (Feb. 13). Freedom, which dropped to 9-14 (5-7), hosts Antioch. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.