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Valley Christian unable to dig out of early hole against Paramount

By Loren Kopff

One of the bright moments in the Valley Christian boys basketball game against Paramount last Thursday night was a 13-0 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. But even that wasn’t enough to help the Crusaders with what might have been a 16-point come from behind victory.

The visiting Pirates outscored V.C. 16-9 in the fourth quarter and won going away 62-50 in one of the final preseason games for the Crusaders. V.C. had fallen behind 9-2 to begin the game and although it never led in the contest, it got to within three points early in the fourth quarter.

“We had that stretch in the first quarter and then a shorter stretch in the fourth quarter where we didn’t handle the ball well,” said V.C. head coach Bryan Branderhorst. “Against Paramount, who basically puts all of their eggs in that basket of pressure defense and getting turnovers for easy opportunities…if you don’t take care of [the ball], you’re giving up lay-ups.”

While it was two scoring sprees that pretty much did the job for Paramount, the Crusaders also had another issue to contend with, this time in the second quarter. Paramount’s Raynal Hawkins was four of six from the field in the stanza, all on three-pointers. The first came off a turnover and began the second quarter scoring, making it 16-8. About two minutes later, he nailed consecutive trifectas to increase Paramount’s lead to 27-16.

“He was hot; he’s a good shooter and we knew that,” Branderhorst said. “He was the high guy on our scouting report. He hit a couple early and got in a rhythm and then it seemed like no matter how close we were to him, he was able to knock them down once he was feeling it.”

V.C. was down 46-30 with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter before storming back. The Crusaders held Paramount scoreless for nearly six minutes. One of the leaders of that rally was sophomore Vaj Rice, who scored four points but grabbed seven of his 12 rebounds in that stanza alone.

“He crashes the glass real hard and clears out a lot of space,” Branderhorst said. “He had a great night on the glass.”

But even that wasn’t enough to bring the Crusaders back as the Pirates opened back to an eight-point lead with just under five minutes to play. V.C. was held without a field goal for the final 3:24 and was outscored 9-3 during that stretch.

Sophomore Stedmon Bryant led V.C. with 13 points while sophomore Ronald Massey added 11 points with five rebounds. Following a 56-51 loss to Ontario Christian last Saturday and a 75-50 setback to Village Christian this past Tuesday in the Olympic League opener, the Crusaders fell to 8-10 overall and have lost eight of their last 10 games. V.C. will visit Maranatha tonight, then play Whittier on Monday in the Pioneer Showcase before hosting Heritage Christian on Tuesday.

“We’re just trying to get better and those close games, I hope, will serve us well later on in this upcoming league season,” Branderhorst said. “We’re a very young team, so we lack the experience in some of those situations.”


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