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Third time was not the charm as Valley Christian still can’t solve Maranatha

 Valley Christian junior forward Ronald Massey goes up for a shot in the first half against Maranatha in last Friday night's California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV-A semifinal game. Massey led the Crusaders with 13 points and 10 rebounds. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS


Valley Christian junior forward Ronald Massey goes up for a shot in the first half against Maranatha in last Friday night’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV-A semifinal game. Massey led the Crusaders with 13 points and 10 rebounds. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS

 

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS

By Loren Kopff

It was the type of atmosphere you want in a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section semifinal boys basketball playoff game. Inside a standing room only small gym that seats approximately 720 on the Valley Christian High campus with a small overflow watching on television inside the school’s chapel via the internet, the Crusaders faced Olympic League champion Maranatha for the right to play for a divisional championship.

But in the end, it was too much Tyler Dorsey, too much Sean Romero and too much Tey Williams as the Minutemen knocked out the Crusaders 67-55 last Friday night. The aforementioned players, who combined to score 15 points in the two league games this season, went for 46 points in the third meeting. The Crusaders have now lost 11 straight to Maranatha.

“It’s hard to trade baskets with Maranatha because they have a lot of basket makers,” said. V.C. head coach Bryan Branderhorst. “They have a lot of guys who can really shoot it and it stretches you out. Obviously they have their guys who can really fill it up. But I thought a lot of the difference for tonight was their role guys.”

Both teams indeed traded baskets for the first half of the opening quarter until a dunk from Odera Nwobi started what would be a 13-1 run. The Crusaders would get to within six points after junior Stedmon Bryant began the second quarter with the last basket of a brief 6-0 Crusaders run. But that’s as close as V.C. would get the remainder of the game.

While Dorsey scored a game-high 22 points, it was Trevor Stanback that provided some additional help. He didn’t play in the first two games against V.C. but scored six first half points as Maranatha built a 39-28 halftime lead. Stanback also finished with four rebounds and three assists.

“The addition of him…he’s a stud,” Branderhorst said. “He’s a very nice player. He changes the game on both ends of the floor, defensively with his length and his athleticism finishing around the rim. He’s impressive and it’s tough to guard that many guys.”

V.C. was down 53-33 late in the third quarter but chipped away at its deficit, something it was familiar with as the Crusaders rallied against St. Bonaventure and Paraclete in their previous two playoff games. Junior Robert Downs converted on a three-point play, then assisted on a Ronald Massey dunk as the stanza expired. After Dorsey hit a pair of free throws to begin the fourth quarter, the Crusaders scored the seven points to make it a 55-45 contest with 6:37 left to play.

“You want your team to have a never-give-up mentality and we certainly didn’t,” Branderhosrt said. “I was proud of my guys for having that. They kept battling and kept playing and did some good things.”

Massey, one of eight juniors for the Crusaders, led the team with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Bryant added 11 points while senior Kyle Westra and junior Jordan Mitchell each chipped in with nine points.

“Ron was a stud,” Branderhorst said. “He’s struggled the past couple of nights out but we just emphasized to him about being aggressive and taking a fight to them. From the opening tip, you could see he was in attack mode and he did a really good job.”

V.C. wraps up the season at 22-9, its best mark since going 27-4 in the 2007-2008 season in which it captured the IV-A championship. Now, the Crusaders will have to wait to see if they received an at-large berth to the Southern California state regionals.

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