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No rust, no problem for Valiant boys' hoops

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic senior post Gabe Taylor drives to the rim in the first quarter of the Valiants blowout win over Corbett on Tuesday.

Not even Mother Nature can stop the locomotive that is the Valley Catholic boys’ basketball team right now.

In the face of a prolonged five-day layoff due to the snowy, inclement weather that confined the Valiants to their homes and prevented them from taking the hardwood as a team, Valley ran like a well-oiled machine, crushing Corbett, 81-25, on Tuesday.

A week after macerating Portland Adventist in a confrontation of the top two 3A teams, Valley didn’t miss a beat, catapulting the Cardinals to the curb by scoring 47 points in the first half with its patented half-court defense and non-stop transition game that wore out the Cardinals.

Rust was not a deterrent for the Valiants who haven’t lost in nine games and sit atop both the 3A power rankings and the coaches’ poll.

“Our energy was really great considering we’ve been off the past few days,” said senior post Gabe Taylor. “We just needed to come out with a focus that we weren’t going to let the break affect us. We came out with the same focus we had against PA.”

Fast starts have become the norm for Valley as of late, with the Valiants getting out to a 19-7 advantage in the first quarter behind nine points from Taylor and six from his running mate Jarrett Gray. Taylor finished two offensive boards by keeping the ball above his head, and Gray caused chaos with his flair for scoring at the tin.

Kazuma Lane and Alex Butz both made a pair of free throws as well for Valley in the first.

“We came out with an intensity on defense in the first half,” said Gray. “We got a lot of stops, which led to lay-ups on the offensive end of the floor, which we’ve been looking to do. We kept running and playing defense the whole game.”

Gray and Taylor kept playing like the best one-two combination of inside-out dominance in 3A, slicing up Corbett with drives, dishes, dimes and drop steps. Taylor scored 13 points in the second quarter while Lane hit a three from the top of the key to give Valley a 47-18 halftime lead. Gray was on the passing end of a handful of Taylor’s buckets, including a two-handed, no-look shovel to the big guy for a one-handed flush on the break.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic junior wing Kazuma Lane hoists up a three from the corner for the Valiants ninth straight win on Tuesday.

“We got something started a couple weeks ago against Catlin (Gabel), and we’ve just been rolling since,” said Gray. “We’ve had high intensity on defense every game. That’s what we have to keep looking to do every game.”

And, with three games in three days this week, the extra rest could actually do Valley some good as it charges toward its goal of winning the Lewis and Clark League title. The Valiants looked refreshed and rejuvenated, running the lanes hard and crushing the rim. There was extra juice in their legs, an added pop in their hops.

Lane scored four more points in the third quarter, two on a sweet teardrop after a pirouette into the lane past the Corbett defense. Taylor tacked on nine more points to his game total, and Gray hit four free throws.

Up 64-23 with 1:52 to go after a Tysen Prunty free throw, head coach Joel Sobotka pulled Gray and Taylor for the rest of the contest to rest his two stars for the upcoming days. Kristoff Oswald’s lay-up gave Valley a 66-25 advantage at the end of the third.

“We’re getting there,” said Taylor. “Just seeing how we’ve been playing lately shows me how much better we can get. That’s really exciting to say that and know we’re working toward something special. We just have to focus on getting better every time we enter the gym. Then, if we just keep building off that, we’ll do something good.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic post Alex Butz puts up a paint attempt for two in the second quarter of the Valiants 81-25 rout of Corbett on Tuesday.

Sobotka deployed his bench in the fourth, and let his younger guys take turns torturing the Cardinals. Sophomore Shankar Krishnakumar scored six points in the fourth to bring his final tally to eight for the contest. Sophomore Vijay Pathasarathy finished an old-fashioned, three-point play with a leaning floater off the window.

Joey Braun banked in a running bucket after a nice backdoor pass from Janek Falkenstein. The freshman also swished two free throws to put Valley up 79-26. Each Valiant who played got in the scorebook whether it was a score, assist or rebound.

“We just keep looking to push leads and never slow down,” said Gray. “We want to keep that intensity for the whole game, the whole time.”



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