Valley Christian, Davis line up for ‘System’ drag race

Run-and-gun basketball teams set to meet in Common Good Classic at Antelope
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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“The System,” created by Grinnell (Iowa) basketball coach David Arseneault, is known for its entertaining style that features rapid-fire shooting, many from three-point range, hockey-style substitutions and a full-court defense bent on steals.

Scoring in the 100s is common for teams running “The System” — and its opponents. It made sports news in November when Jack Taylor of Grinnell scored 138 points in a game.

But what happens when two teams running “The System” meet? Referees, the scorekeeping crew and fans will find out Saturday when Valley Christian Academy and Davis meet at 12:30 p.m. in the Common Good Classic. It’s the second of six games scheduled at Antelope High School.

Credit Brad Swope for creating a matchup that could break the sound barrier — and the scoreboard. Swope, director of the Common Good Classic, approached Valley Christian coach Brad Gunter Jr. while he was officiating a Lions game last season.

The Lions led the state in scoring, and Davis was No. 2. This season, Davis leads the state at 87.8 points per game, and Valley Christian is No. 3 at 81.

What could happen then when two teams running “The System” have the same high-velocity goals in mind: five-for-five substitutions every 35 seconds, attempt at least 35 three-pointers, force at least 22 turnovers, shoot within 12 seconds of gaining possession and try to regain possession within 12 seconds?

The answer may not be known until the starting gun for this 32-minute sprint, but computer stat programs could crash. Gunter said Gary Smith, who served as an assistant coach at Davis last season and co-authored the book “Coaching The System” with Doug Porter, couldn’t recall two “System” teams on the same court.

“As far as Coach Smith knows, this is the first time in history that two ‘System’ teams have played each other,” Gunter said, noting that Smith, while coaching at the University of Redlands, and Arseneault were in talks to play, but it never happened. “The style is extreme, and the hopes are that the scoreboard capacity will be put to the test on Saturday.”

Smith isn’t coaching at Davis this season, but he ran a few practices at Valley Christian, has attended games “and given me a load of great information and feedback,” Gunter said. “What an honor to have him help our young men and our school.”

It’s showing. After losing their first eight, the Lions (6-9 overall, 4-0 Sacramento Metro Athletic League) have won five in a row and six of seven. They’ve scored 97, 91 and 97 points in their last three games.

Sophomore Forest Ryan scored 27 points in a 97-95 victory over Vacaville-Buckingham Charter in double overtime Jan. 12, and the Lions hit 12 three-pointers, grabbed 40 rebounds and made 20 steals.

Valley Christian scored 36 points in the second quarter of Thursday night’s 97-53 blowout of Sacramento Adventist, with Smith in attendance. The Lions hit 15 three-pointers, and 12 of 15 players scored, led by Ryan with 20 points.

“We have worked very hard this year to improve on the things he has helped us with,” Gunter said. “The kids really wanted to show how much they have improved. They definitely showed him. Coach Smith addressed the team after the game and told them how far they have come and how much they have improved.”

Davis (12-7) was in a four-way tie for first place in the Division I Delta Valley Conference going into Friday night’s game at Monterey Trail. It will be a quick turnaround for the Blue Devils, who scored a season-high 118 points against San Francisco-Burton in December.

“They are a lot older than us and have a lot of returning ‘System’ players with talent,” Gunter said. “Our goal is to go out and run, press, shoot, rebound and sub for 32 minutes, and hopefully, we can both put on an amazing show.

“It will be a tough task to beat Davis, but I have told the kids not to look at the scoreboard and keep attacking for 32 minutes.”

~ Press Tribune Correspondent Robbie Enos contributed to this report.




When/Where: Saturday, Jan. 19, at Antelope High School.

Schedule: Antelope vs. Center (girls), 11 a.m.; Davis vs. Valley Christian Academy (boys), 12:30 p.m.; Del Oro vs. St. Francis (girls), 2:30 p.m.; Foothill vs. Franklin (boys), 4 p.m.; Center vs. Whitney (boys), 6 p.m.; Antelope vs. Bella Vista (boys), 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students with a student body card. Kids 12 and under are admitted for free. Proceeds benefit The True North Project, which aids foster children in the Sacramento area.