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PMA WARRIOR SHOWCASE : Payero nearly does it all as Valley Christian boys routs Arcadia

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


DOWNEY-It has been a roller coaster of a season for the Valley Christian High boys basketball team this season, especially with a new coach, one returner from last season’s team and 10 players on this season’s squad. But the Defenders got a big non-league win and a bigger performance from one of their newest young stars.

Junior Malvin Payero nearly outscored Arcadia High as he posted a career-high 30 points on 11 of 20 shooting from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds, had seven assists, three steals and hit four three-pointers as V.C. crushed the Apaches 70-38 this past Monday at the PMA Warrior Showcase on the campus of St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy.

“I thought our energy was great,” said V.C. first-year head coach Josh Beaty. “It’s days like today when kids are out of school and sometimes the energy can be low. I didn’t think that was the case for us at all. I thought our kids were really into the game.”

V.C., which trailed only once in the contest, set the tone early by going on a 10-0 run in less than three minutes in the first quarter. The Defenders would get a three-pointer from four starters in the opening stanza and 10 for the game.

The lead would only get larger as the second quarter went on as the Defenders, who had lost two straight games, scored the last seven points of the half to lead 33-16 at the break. All five starters played the entire first half and the third quarter as well as the lead would increase to 28 points late in the third quarter.

It wasn’t until nearly midway through the fourth quarter that four of the five remaining players got into the game with the final player playing the final 1:26. But, the story of the game was Payero, who had four assists in the first quarter, three more in the second quarter and had half his rebounds in the third quarter. Payero has scored at least 20 points in five of the 12 games he has played and reached double figures in all but two games.

“He sets the tone, our energy is good, and it all starts with him,” Beaty said. “He plays with tremendous energy; he’s very competitive. And, so on a day like today, you really count on him to show up when maybe a couple of guys might be flat.”

Freshman Nathan Medina added 14 points and four rebounds while senior Christian Bozanic, the lone returning member, chipped in with nine points and four rebounds. With so many uncertainties, V.C. has managed to hover around .500 all season, winning no more than three straight games at any time and never getting more than a game above .500. In fact, the Defenders have evened their record seven times.

“It’s definitely year one of a rebuild and I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve made from the beginning,” Beaty said. “There’s a lot of good signs with our young players building for the future.”

The Defenders, who stunned Village Christian High 64-60 this past Tuesday, improved to 12-11 overall and 2-4 in the Olympic League. The Defenders visited The Webb Schools on Jan. 24 and will travel to Riverside County Education Academy tonight before ending the regular season at Whittier Christian High on Tuesday and hosting Maranatha High on Thursday. V.C. easily defeated Whittier Christian by 30 points on Jan. 8 for its other league victory.

“I think we’re going to get into the playoffs,” Beaty predicted. “We’re playing our best basketball right now. We continue to get better and I feel pretty confident that we can win the games that we need to win to get into the playoffs.”