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Valley Christian turns to its defense to win playoff opener

By: Staff reports
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Valley Christian Academy is known for its high-powered offense, but it was defense that helped the Lions win their Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff opener Wednesday night.

The third-seeded Lions held No. 14 Sierra Ridge/Rite of Passage scoreless over the final minute and 37 seconds and beat the Rams 63-55. Valley Christian (24-3) was host to Global Youth Charter in a quarterfinal Friday night. Global Youth Charter beat Delta 72-52 in the opening round. The semifinals are Tuesday at Galt High School.

Valley Christian used its size to defend Sierra Ridge, of San Andreas, before going to its press late in the game.

“We forced them into desperation threes and controlled the boards,” Lions coach Brad Gunter Jr. said. “It was definitely not our best night offensively, but I knew that defense would be the difference in the playoffs and we answered the call. We held them scoreless in the last 1:37 with great defensive stops and held them to one-and-done shots.”

Joey Parker led the Lions with 13 points, and he handed out six assists. Jesse Peters had 11 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocked shots, and Greg Ellis had seven rebounds and three blocks. Jason Gish and Kris Kobzeff scored 11 points each.

Peters was 7 for 8 from the free-throw line and Parker 4 for 4. The Lions were 15 for 19 overall from the line, and they totaled 18 blocks and 10 steals.

“ROP was quick and very athletic. The one team in the entire playoffs that I had nothing on was the team that we would face in the opening round,” Gunter said. “Peters was huge on the glass and on the line.”

Fairfield 58, Oakmont 52 – The 15th-seeded Vikings (15-12) lost on the road to No. 2 Fairfield (22-6). Oakmont defeated Fairfield in December in the Rocklin Holiday Tournament.