Valley Christian boys nipped; girls rip HighlandsBy: Robbie Enos
Buzzers were ringing and the hardwood was rustling as Valley Christian Academy tipped off basketball season with Foundation Games against visiting Highlands on Monday night.
The girls rolled to a 62-23 win in the opener, but the boys lost a nail-biter 84-80.
Boys coach Brad Gunter Jr. is employing the running, gunning Grinnell System for the second season in a row.
The Lions drained 14 three-pointers, led by Levi Hagerty’s five. The defense racked up 14 steals but also gave away 22 opportunities to Highlands.
The Scots led 83-78 with 1:36 left. Teagan Mowry dumped to Josh Bowden in the post to narrow the deficit to three, but the Lions came up short.
Gunter said the offense is still incomplete, but he was impressed with the 80 points. Hagerty led with 17 points.
“We don’t have our zone packages in yet,” Gunter said. “So we have mainly our man offense, and we had to adjust on the fly all evening to get to a zone offense. Even saying that, with them trying everything to stop us, we still put 80 points on the board.”
He also was impressed with the Lions’ defense, which forced several turnovers.
“We forced tempo all night. That’s part of the System,” Gunter said. “Now, we did some things wrong. We have to fall back into lanes and put pressure from behind and not allow them to get the ball back. But outside of that, the tempo was exactly what we wanted.”
The Lady Lions sport a roster with just three seniors, but they came out aggressive against Highlands, forcing nine steals in the first quarter and holding Highlands to two points.
“We went over defense,” head coach Kim Contreras said. “They finally stepped it up.”
Valley Christian, which normally deploys a group of speedy guards, has a size advantage this season. Post players Emily Flood and Seraiah Tyller combined for 11 points and 16 rebounds.
“I finally have height,” Contreras said. “Now we can … play with the inside game.”