Lions win league opener by 51

Valley Christian switches to zone defense, records largest victory margin this season; Lady Lions roll
By: Kayla Nix/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Valley Christian Academy had the upper hand in all aspects of its 77-26 victory over Sacramento Country Day on Friday night.

A major twist was Valley Christian’s defense. The squad that is consistent with a press switched gears for the Sacramento Metro Athletic League opener at home.

“We decided we weren’t going to come out and press,” Lions coach Brad Gunter Jr. said. “We usually press for four quarters. We decided not to. ... By golly, it sort of worked.”

Why the change for the 12-3 squad?

“Against Sac Country Day, in the history of our schools playing, it has been a tougher game at their gym than it has here,” Gunter said. “We’ve always had, whether it be a mental edge or whatever it is, at our place. It’s been tough to play there. So we decided to, if we need it, we’ll go to it and keep something a little in the back pocket. We didn’t have to bring it out at all.”

The defense was effective against the visiting Cavaliers. Valley Christian held its opponent to four points in the first quarter and six in the fourth, all of which came in the final minute and 19 seconds on two three-pointers by Jack Lewis.

Valley Christian’s tough offense helped record the largest margin of victory this season.

“I knew we had the advantage, but I didn’t expect that kind of advantage,” Gunter said. “I expected us to definitely be the favorite. I wasn’t expecting a 50-point spread.”

The Lions showed their dominance early with a 13-0 run in the first quarter. The Cavaliers didn’t score until the 2:40 mark.

Joey Parker and Jason Gish led the way with 16 points each for the Lions. Gish made four three-pointers. All 13 players who stepped onto the court for Valley Christian scored.

“Offense was in spurts,” Gunter said. “Defense created all the easy stuff. Our half-court offense came in spurts. We’d go in two- and three-minute stretches where we were pretty much unstoppable. We got what we wanted. We also stood around for a minute, two minutes at a time.”

Valley Christian’s girls also started SMAL play with a big 55-28 victory over the Cavaliers. The Lady Lions are 11-4 overall and have won 10 of 11.

Midori Bounds and Samantha Shoemake each scored 14 points for Valley Christian, which led 38-11 at halftime. Carly Gish scored 13 points and Heather Frank 12.