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Valiant boys riding high in L&C league race

VC disposes of both Portland Adventist and Rainier in league


BEAVERTON — Last year’s Valley Catholic boys basketball team got tested by fire all season long, battling to a three-way tie in the Lewis & Clark League, then joining co-champions Portland Adventist and Rainier for more fun at the eight-team Class 3A state tournament.by: MILES VANCE - PUSHING AHEAD - Valley Catholic junior Carter Buuck tries to drive upcourt against Portland Adventist during the Valiants' Lewis & Clark League victory on Jan. 3.

This year, Valley Catholic is the one putting the fire to its opponents.

The Valiants roasted both of its 2012 co-champs last week, burning Portland Adventist 53-41 at Valley Catholic on Jan. 3, then coming back to fry Rainier 42-21 at VC on Saturday. Together with a 60-25 Tuesday win over Corbett, the Valiants’ saw their L&C record rise to 7-0 (11-3 overall) and kept the team in sole possession of first place.

PA, meanwhile, came back to beat Oregon Episcopal on Saturday and Catlin Gabel on Tuesday and moved to 4-3 in league, while the Columbians lost to OES on Tuesday and fell to 3-4.

In the win over Portland Adventist, Valley Catholic posted significant edges in each of the game’s first three quarters, boosted its lead to 21 points early in the fourth quarter and coasted home from there.

“We just had to play good defense and keep them in front of us and not them run up and down like they like to play,” said Valley Catholic junior point guard Jarrett Gray, who had 11 points in the victory. “Everyone did a good job on defense.”

All the teams we play, “they all play really hard, so we’ve just got to come out and play even harder than they do,” added junior post Gabe Taylor, who led all scorers with 20 points. “That’s the main thing.”

The Valiants got it done with their defense early on, forcing four Cougar turnovers and holding PA to 0-for-7 shooting from the field at the start of the game. That effort gave VC time to get its offense going, and the Valiants responded with six first-quarter points from Taylor, including a drive down the left baseline that pushed Valley Catholic’s lead to 11-2.

The Cougars rallied after that, however, putting together an 8-2 that cut the Valiant lead to 13-10 when Ryan Halversen hit a pair of free throws 29 seconds into the second quarter.

But Valley Catholic answered in kind, putting together a 12-2 run over a stretch of 2:28 that pushed its lead back to 25-12 at the half. Taylor got that run stated when he took a Gray pass and scored inside, Gray added a floating jumpshot in the lane and then scored on a fast break. After that, Taylor scored inside again, and John Tate then tacked on back-to-back scores inside (both assisted by Gray) for that 25-12 lead.

The Cougars got no closer than 12 points in the third quarter — on a Halversen three-pointer in the period’s first minute — and saw the Valiants respond with a 14-5 run that boosted their lead to 21 points at 41-20. In that span, Valley Catholic got two baskets each from Taylor, Cassidy and Gray, with Gray’s baseline jumpshot giving his team a 41-20 lead with 2:33 left in the frame.

VC’s lead crested at 45-24 when Tysen Prunty stole the ball and set up Taylor on the fast break with 6:52 left in the game. Portland Adventist cut the gap late thanks to three-pointers from Spencer Woodworth and Halversen, as well as two baskets by Brett Wilson, but got no closer than the final 12-point margin.

As well as the Valiants have played in league so far, they know there’s still lots of room to grow and improve.

“We’ve improved a lot,” Gray said. “Coach has been working with us to step up our defense and working on offense. We’ve been working hard in practice and getting better.”

“I think we can get better at everything,” Taylor said.

For the game, Taylor went 10-of-17 from the field, and Gray 5-of-6, while Halversen led PA with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting (including two three-pointers).

As a team, Valley Catholic hit 25-of-51 shots from the field (49 percent) and 3-of-6 at the foul line while committing 15 turnovers. The Cougars, meanwhile, hit 16-of-46 from the floor (including four “threes”), 5-of-8 at the foul line and committed 17 turnovers.

In upcoming games, Valley Catholic plays at Clatskanie at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then begins the second half of Lewis & Clark League play with a home game against Oregon Episcopal at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.




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