Lions survive Sac Waldorf second round challenge

Valley Christian reaches Division 5 semifinals
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Sometimes the approach that a win is a win has to carry you through when nothing else will. For the Valley Christian Academy boys basketball team Friday night, survival was the best they could do, and survive they did. “You take them how you can get them,” said Valley Christian coach Brad Gunter. “We did not play our best basketball of the season tonight, but most of that is a credit to Dean Stark and the Sac Waldorf players. We are fortunate to beat them, but at this point of the season I will take it.” The Lions were down early and rallied in the second quarter to make it a tight one at intermission, but it was not until clutch defense and free throws down the stretch that they sealed a hard-fought 68-65 win over Sacramento Waldorf in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. “They are a tough well-coached team,” Gunter said. “They got up on us in the first quarter by their pressure defense. Our advantage was our size but we could not, more like wouldn’t distribute the ball and attack from the weak side. The second quarter we did a much better job of sharing the ball and instead of four guys scoring in the first quarter, six players had points in the second.” VCA caught a break with a key Sac Waldorf injury in the fourth, and then they fouled out one of the Waves top scorers with three minutes left, but even with that, this one went to the wire. The Lions pulled out all of the stops on the defensive end, at one point going to a triangle-and-two to take away Sac Waldorf’s top scorer. In the final minute, Valley Christian’s defense was able to force difficult shots, allowing first Ryan Cordell and then Jesse Peters to score from the charity stripe to pull out the victory. Sophomore Jason Gish scored 15 points to lead a balanced scoring attack. Cordell added 14, while Rob Frank scored 11, Orest Shaynyuk tossed in 10 and Peters scored eight. The win puts VCA through to the section semifinals Tuesday night in Galt. The game time will be announced Saturday afternoon. It also guarantees the Lions a spot in the Northern California tournament regardless how they fare in the D-V final four. The top four in each division now qualify for the NorCal playoffs.