VCA scores 98 with father of 'System' looking on

Victory puts Lions in first in SMAL
By: John Parker/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Despite a packed house at Valley Christian Academy’s gym for Tuesday night’s Sacramento Metro Athletic League showdown with Faith Christian, one spectator in particular, in the top row of the bleachers, caught the eye of Lions coach Brad Gunter Jr.
Former University of Redlands coach Gary Smith, who wrote the book outlining the finer points of the Grinnell “System” employed by VCA, was in the house.
“I look up … and there’s the guru,” Gunter said of Smith, who is an assistant at Davis High this year upon coming out of retirement. “All of a sudden, I’m worried about the game and it has nothing to do with how big of a game it is.”
No bother, as VCA (13-6, 6-0 SMAL) dispatched Faith 98-74 to take over sole possession of first place. Both teams entered with 5-0 league marks and were the only two teams with more than two league wins.
Faith (16-3, 5-1) weathered the VCA full-court pressure and three-point shooting barrage for about seven minutes before the system took over. VCA hit 8 of 24 shots in the first quarter and held a slim – by its standards – 19-16 lead. It would shoot just under 50 percent (30 for 62) the rest of the way.
The Lions used a 32-point second quarter to break open the game, as senior guard Jason Gish scored 14 of his game-high 34 points. Senior post Jake Sween scored 14 points, senior guard Kris Kobzeff had 13 points, and senior swingman Wright Hagerty had 12.
“There were some opening jitters with a crowd that big,” Gish said. “Once I hit that first shot though, I knew it would be a good night.”
Gish canned four consecutive three-pointers in one stretch overlapping halftime -- that is, when he wasn’t firing nifty behind-the-back or no-look passes to cutting teammates, picking up easy dimes.
VCA built on its comfy 51-34 halftime lead and withstood a brief rally in which Faith pulled within 79-63 with six minutes to go before cruising to the easy victory.
“They’re a good, athletic team – there’s only so much of that you can simulate in practice,” Faith coach Rick Daugherty said. “We’ll be better prepared to face them next time.”
Gunter indicated the coach (read: perfectionist) in him saw a few things he would like to clean up, but that Smith heaped kudos on him after the game.
“He said he doesn’t impress easy and that he was impressed tonight,” Gunter said. “All I can hope is that we made him proud.”