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VCA girls own SMAL, but boys fall to Faith Christian

By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Tuesday night was sweet and sour for Valley Christian Academy’s basketball teams.

On one end, the Lady Lions destroyed Yuba City-Faith Christian 63-26 to finish an undefeated run through the Sacramento Metro Athletic league. On the other, the boys’ season came to a close with a 107-85 loss to visiting Faith.

“This year, there was a lot of learning,” Valley Christian boys coach Brad Gunter Jr. said. “It was like starting all over. I loved the kids; they were absolutely great. I couldn’t have asked for more. The biggest thing was that we had to learn all year. The other thing is that there was a lot of unluckiness. In the preseason, we were so hurt that we never got the momentum, and we were behind the 8-ball all season.”

One of the main injuries was to point guard Teagan Mowry, who played through a right shoulder injury and shot free throws with one arm early in the season.

Faith Christian (22-5 overall, 9-1 SMAL) answered Valley Christian’s aggressive “System” offense with its own aggression: a half-court trap defense. Faith totaled 17 steals and 23 assists, as it turned rebounds and turnovers into easy layups.

“Honestly, it’s not just today,” Gunter said. “It’s been the entire season. They got on a roll earlier this year, and they kept the momentum. Their 1-2-2 half-court trap is amazing, but when your confidence is really high, that trap looks better than it really is. So credit Faith, they flat-out won the league.”

Jordan Sullivan and Justin Glen led the great passing of Faith with seven assists each. Southpaw forward Deep Bhatti posted a game-high 33 points on transition layups, Glen scored 22, and high-flying guard Micah Atkins scored 21.

Valley’s best weapon was the three-point line, where it nailed 13 shots. Micah Gunter hit five for 15 points. Senior Jimmy Shaw finished his VCA (9-13, 7-3) career with 15 points, including a dunk in the final seconds.

Valley Christian’s girls got off to a booming start when Lily Hagerty scored 12 points in the first quarter en route to a 27-point game. Valley Christian’s suffocating press produced 18 steals in the first half and held Faith to 17 points. The Lady Lions (14-9, 12-0) hit nine three-pointers.

Coach Kim Contreras pointed out the sophomores as the key for the team. Hagerty is a second-year player, and sophomore Jenny Frank scored 12 points and had eight steals.

“Basically, my sophomores have stood out,” Contreras said. “Last year was really a rebuilding year, and now they’re clicking together. They’re good shooters, and they’re stepping it up on defense. They’re playing disciplined defense.”