Valley Christian enjoys a big start

Coming off a league title, high-scoring Lions are 10-2
By: Bill Poindexter/Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Valley Christian Academy is thinking big this season – big on the basketball court, big in the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings, big in the Sacramento Metro Athletic League and big in the Division V playoffs.
The Lions have compiled a 10-2 record with a championship, a runner-up and a third-place finish in tournament play – “Best tournament finishes in school history,” according to coach Brad Gunter Jr. – and average 72.4 points per game. Their only losses were to perennial Division V state power Branson of Ross and Division III Weston Ranch of Stockton.
Valley Christian’s immediate focus before league begins is games at Brookside Christian on Tuesday in Stockton and at home against Woodland Christian on Thursday. Two victories would put the Lions in contention for the No. 1 seed in the section power ratings, which would be a first for the school.
The roster is loaded with experience, size and speed.
Jason Gish is a 6-foot-3 junior who leads the team in scoring at 18.9 points per game on 50-percent shooting from the field. He’s also a 44-percent three-point shooter and averages 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.9 assists. All of those numbers are up over last season, when the Lions shared the SMAL title with Bradshaw Christian. Gish runs the break, attacks the basket, moves without the ball and plays defense.
Jesse Peters, a 6-7 center, averages 12.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots. He started the season with 60 rebounds and 19 blocks in four games against tough competition at the Redwood Classic in Boonville.
Both are attracting attention from colleges.
Running the show is guard Joey Parker, a 5-9 senior who pushes the tempo, “which gets the ball into Gish’s hands,” Gunter said. “Even with our size, we want to run and gun.”
Parker averages 12 points, 7.3 assists and 2.8 steals. The Lions have dominated some games by going to their big men (eight players on the roster are 6-3 or taller) and others with their break. Football players Aaron Perchaz, Micky DeFiebre and Jeremy Tyller provide muscle. Perchaz, Tyller, Josh Flanagan and Josh Bowden have combined for 11 games in double figures, and 6-6 senior Greg Ellis has a 17-rebound game. The team is shooting 51 percent from the field.
“We have some nice pieces to do something this (season),” Gunter said.

Valley Christian girls seek first league title
Six of the 11 players on Valley Christian’s girls team now know what it means to win a league championship, having earned the school its first SMAL volleyball title just a few weeks ago.
Now, they want one in basketball.
“We’re hoping to put a banner on the wall,” said fifth-year coach Kim Contreras, known on campus as Miss Kim. “We got to share in the excitement with the boys last year, and we want a piece of the excitement this year.”
The time is now. Contreras starts four seniors who have played together for four years and a junior who’s in her third season with the team. The bench is young.
“We have about 30 girls in the whole school,” Contreras said. “Basically, we take students and turn them into athletes.”
Carly Gish, an All-SMAL first-team choice for a volleyball team that didn’t lose until the section final at UC Davis, leads the Lady Lions in scoring at 15.1 points per game and climbing – she has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games.
“Carly can run the offense, but she also knows how to attack,” Contreras said. “Her quickness helps her on fast breaks – steals and layups. When her three-point shots are on, she can stick them all day.”
Samantha Shoemake, another All-SMAL volleyball first-team pick, averages 11.7 points. Junior Heather Frank, an All-SMAL second-team selection in volleyball, averages 12.6 points.
“She’s stepping up to the plate as a leader this year and preparing for next (season),” Contreras said of Frank.
Contact Bill Poindexter at


Last season:
25-6 overall, 13-1 in the Sacramento Metro Athletic League, tied for first with Bradshaw Christian; advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals.
Game of note: The Lions travel to Stockton on Tuesday to play Brookside Christian. Both lost in the Division V section semifinals last season, Valley Christian to Victory Christian, which won the title. The Lions already have taken out the champ this season, by a whopping 73-43 on Dec. 13. Throw out Brookside’s 0-6 start. The Knights were taking the court minus several players who were advancing to the CIF State Division IV Bowl Game in football. Now, they’re back.

Date      Opponent

Dec. 1    a-Point Arena W, 97-80
Dec. 3    a-Calif. School for the Deaf W, 84-49
Dec. 4    a-Branson L, 52-43
Dec. 4    a-Marin Academy W, 66-63
Dec. 7    El Dorado Adventist W, 78-31
Dec. 9    b-Elliot Christian W, 70-23
Dec. 10  b-Argonaut W, 59-49
Dec. 11  b-Weston Ranch L, 80-57
Dec. 13  Vs. Victory Christian W, 73-43
Dec. 18  c-Summerfield Waldorf (Santa Rosa) W, 79-43
Dec. 18  c-Auburn Christian W, 80-39
Dec. 20  At Forest Lake Christian W, 83-46
Dec. 28  At Brookside Christian
Dec. 30  Vs. Woodland Christian
Jan. 7     Vs. Sacramento Country Day
Jan. 11   At Buckingham Charter
Jan. 14   At Elk Grove Lutheran
Jan. 18   Vs. Sacramento Adventist
Jan. 21   At Faith Christian
Jan. 28   Vs. Wilton Christian
Feb. 1    At Sacramento Country Day
Feb. 4    Vs. Buckingham Charter
Feb. 8    Vs. Elk Grove Lutheran
Feb. 10  At Sacramento Adventist
Feb. 15  Vs. Faith Christian
Feb. 18  At Wilton Christian
a-Redwood Classic in Boonville
b-Bradshaw Holiday Jamboree (Elk Grove)
c-Jesse West Trinity Prep Winter Classic (Napa)
All games at 7:30 p.m. except for Brookside Christian at 6 p.m. Dec. 28 and Elk Grove Lutheran at 8 p.m. Jan. 14.

Last season:
17-10 overall, 11-3 in the SMAL, second to Bradshaw Christian; advanced to the Division V quarterfinals.
Games of note: One has been played. The Lady Lions were blown out by defending Division V champ Bradshaw Christian 69-24 in the first round of the Bradshaw Holiday Jamboree on Dec. 16, but take a number: So have four other Bradshaw opponents. Beyond that, Valley Christian has a four-game league stretch between Jan. 14 and 21 that includes Elk Grove-Lutheran, Sacramento Adventist and Wilton Christian, all with winning records.

Date     Opponent

Nov. 27 At Sacramento Waldorf L, 39-36
Dec. 2   a-San Juan W, 61-44
Dec. 3   a-Head-Royce L, 49-41
Dec. 4   a-Victory Christian L, 51-44
Dec. 7   El Dorado Adventist W, 56-15
Dec. 9   b-Highlands W, 61-49
Dec. 10 b-Sutter W, 50-34
Dec. 11 b-Greenville W, 51-16
Dec. 13 Vs. Victory Christian W, 49-22
Dec. 16 c-Bradshaw Christian L, 69-24
Dec. 17 c-Elliot Christian W, 45-33
Dec. 18 c-Victory Christian W, 56-38
Dec. 20 At Forest Lake Christian W, 57-29
Dec. 30 Vs. Woodland Christian
Jan. 7    Vs. Sacramento Country Day
Jan. 11  At Buckingham Charter
Jan. 14  At Lutheran (Elk Grove)
Jan. 18  Vs. Sacramento Adventist
Jan. 21  At Faith Christian
Jan. 28  Vs. Wilton Christian
Feb. 1   At Sacramento Country Day
Feb. 4   Vs. Buckingham Charter
Feb. 8   Vs. Lutheran
Feb. 10 At Sacramento Adventist
Feb. 15 Vs. Faith Christian
Feb. 18 At Wilton Christian
a-Lady Viking Classic (Victory Christian)
b-Coach T Memorial at Valley Christian
c-Bradshaw Holiday Jamboree (Elk Grove)
All games at 6 p.m. except for Lutheran at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 and Faith Christian, TBA on Jan. 21.