VCs boys win a league title in coach Joel Sobotka's first year

PORTLAND — The Valley Catholic boys basketball team is determined to take it one day at a time, one game at a time and one opponent at a MILES VANCE - FLOATING - Valley Catholic's Gabe Taylor soars for a shot during his team's Tuesday victory at Portland Adventist Academy.

That said, it was hard not to look a little ahead after the Valiants beat Portland Adventist 60-31 on Tuesday night at Portland Adventist Academy to clinch the Lewis & Clark League championship in coach Joel Sobotka’s first year. The second-ranked Valiants, 13-0 in L&C play (17-3 overall) and second-ranked in Class 3A, have just three games left in the regular season, then a Feb. 16 berth in the L&C title game and — the Valiants hope — a long and successful run in the state playoffs.

“We always just focus on the next step,” said Valley Catholic senior wing Liam Cassidy, who tied Gabe Taylor for game-high scoring honors on Tuesday with 13 points. “The key is that this team is really unselfish. We move the ball really well and we have great chemistry on and off the court. We’re a really well-bonded group of guys.”

“We’re unselfish,” agreed VC junior guard Jarrett Gray, who added 11 points on Tuesday. “We share the ball and look for one more pass to find the open shot. We believe in our team as a whole.”

Portland Adventist, the fifth-ranked team in the state, fell to 9-4 in league play (14-5 overall).

The start of Tuesday’s game was a back-and-forth run-and-gun affair that saw the Cougars draw even at 6-6 when Ryan Halversen hit a left-handed shot in the lane with 5 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first quarter. But Valley Catholic answered with a 12-4 run over the next 3:48 that included a Cassidy fastbreak hoop, a Gray steal and breakaway, another fastbreak basket from Cassidy assisted by Carter Buuck, and two Kazuma Lane three-pointers, the last of those making it 18-10 with 1:07 left in the period.

PA closed within 22-18 on a Brett Wilson inside hoop with 3:00 left in the half, and were still down just four points after VC’s Canaan Sellers and Martin Chinn traded three-pointers. But Taylor converted a three-point play with 1:35 left in the half, and the Valiants just flat put the game away in the second half.

The Cougars moved within five points at the start of the second half when Halversen scored on the break to make it 27-22, but from there, the Valiants took off on a 13-0 run that gave them complete control of the contest.

In that stretch, Valley Catholic held the Cougars to 0-of-6 shooting from the floor and forced three turnovers, while their offense took off. Cassidy scored on a reverse to get things started, Gray added a fastbreak hoop and a three-pointer, Buuck hit from the baseline, Gray knocked down a jumpshot from the left side, and Tysen Prunty took a Gray pass on the break and converted to push VC’s lead to 40-22 with 4:20 left in the period.

Cassidy buried a “three” late in the quarter to extend VC’s lead to 45-25, and the Valiants closed things out in style with a 13-2 edge in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve been preparing for them all week,” Cassidy explained. “They like to throw it up the court and get out and run and we’ve been ready for that. Coach made sure we were ready to get back on defense.”

“We had fun,” Gray added. “They run a lot, up and down, and it gets loud in this place. It’s fun to play here.”

Halversen led the Cougars with 10 points, but no other Cougar had more than six. Lane added nine for VC and Buuck six.

On Friday, Valley Catholic plays at Rainier at 7:30 p.m., and On Tuesday, the Valiants play at Corbett at 7:30 p.m.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please visit

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