New ploy on defense helps Valley take title


Brian Farnsworth watched his Valley basketball team lose to Cimarron-Memorial by 18 points in early December and by 35 on Wednesday, and he did what any normal coach does.

He panicked.

Every defense his Vikings had used against the Spartans was worthless. Man-to-man, box-and-one, pressure -- nothing worked.

So Farnsworth changed his team's defensive philosophy against high scorer Michael Cutright in Valley's 68-57 win in Friday's Sierra Vista Invitational championship game.

"We had tried every defense known to man on them but the 2-3 zone," Farnsworth said. "We have some big kids, and I said, 'Let's give it a shot,' and it worked. Our kids came out and committed to it."

Added Cimarron coach Steve Boyack: "We just stood around for some reason. Our guys had no movement. We just didn't come to play, which, in a championship game, is unheard of. It was very frustrating to watch. I don't know what was in their heads."

Cutright, who scored 29 points in the first half against Valley on Wednesday, was held to 18 points. With him relatively bottled up and Cimarron's up-tempo game plan shattered, the Vikings were able to focus on their offense.

Rarely does a play with 12 minutes left define a game, but point guard Johnquez Brooks' picture-perfect alley-oop to David Michaels might have. Brooks caught a cross-court pass and appeared ready to hoist a 3-pointer. But Michaels crept behind the Spartans' defense, elevated and threw down a jam that had Valley soaring and Cimarron slumping.

The play was part of a 14-3 run that saw the Vikings come back from a 33-30 halftime deficit.

"For us to execute that play the way we did, our kids were so pumped up," Farnsworth said. "It was a back-breaker for them. We just fed off that energy, and that energy carried over to defense."

That pass was one of eight assists for Brooks. Valley's other starters -- each of whom played all 32 minutes -- all benefited by scoring in double figures, though guard Cordero Harris had the most fun with 25 points and nine rebounds.

"Even though we had lost to them by a lot, it didn't matter to us," Harris said. "Each game is a new chapter for us."

But, really, it all started with the pass.

"After that 'oop,' we knew we had to win," Harris said. "That boosted our team up right there."

In Friday's semifinal games:

Valley 61, Coronado 48 -- While Brooks did damage with his passing in the championship game, his scoring put the Vikings over the top against the Cougars in the semifinals.

Brooks had 19 points as Valley rallied with a big fourth quarter, outscoring the Cougars 18-6 in the final period after Coronado had cut the lead to 43-42 after three quarters.

Cimarron-Memorial 67, Liberty 60 -- Four starters scored in double figures to put the Spartans in the title game.

Cutright had 18 points and Tyler Tuliau 17 for Cimarron. Cameron Peters led Patriots scorers with 23 points.

OTHER GAMES

Centennial 54, Snow Canyon 53 -- At St. George, Utah, Josh Hardy hit a 10-foot jumper with less than five seconds left to lift the Bulldogs.

Matt Holley scored 17 points to lead scorers for Centennial, which did not attempt a free throw in the game. Hardy finished with 10 points.

Legacy 77, Del Sol 57 -- At Legacy, Sam Johnson scored 15 points and Sian Laine 12 to lead the Longhorns to victory.

Chris Jones scored 12 points to lead Dragons scorers.

Moapa Valley 83, The Meadows 63 -- At The Meadows, Shilo Sandoval scored 16 points to help lift the Pirates.

The Meadows led 29-28 at halftime before Moapa Valley's third-quarter run. Jon Chino scored 27 points for the Mustangs.

Lynwood (Calif.) 66, Chaparral 51 -- At Chaparral, Cardale Spencer scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to keep the Cowboys in the game.

Mountain View 48, Calvary Chapel 46 -- At Calvary Chapel, Justyn Anderson's 3-pointer with about a minute to play put the Saints up for good.

Max Chapple had 11 points to lead Saints scorers. Calvary Chapel's Dario Rahming led all scorers with 15 points.

Trinity 91, Laughlin 40 -- At Trinity, Travis Kersenbrock scored 17 points and Raphael Roberts 16 to lead the Thunder.

 

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