Virgin Valley’s boys basketball team started a difficult stretch of league play on Monday night, playing the first of five upcoming road games.
Garrett Leavitt and the team’s defense made sure the Bulldogs started the stretch off right.
Leavitt had 34 points, and Virgin Valley forced 14 turnovers in the middle quarters en route to a 66-46 win at Chaparral.
“It’s a good win for us,” said Virgin Valley coach Sean FitzSimons, whose team plays four of its final six Sunrise League games on the road. “It kind of keeps us right there at second (place). Our kids came to play, and we’ll take it.”
The Bulldogs (11-8, 5-1) trailed 19-14 after one quarter, but used their 1-2-2 halfcourt trap to force six second-quarter turnovers and keep the Cowboys from getting comfortable on offense. Leavitt scored 12 points in the second quarter to help Virgin Valley take a 33-27 halftime lead.
“We started out a little flat,” FitzSimons said. “That big second quarter helped us.”
The team carried the momentum into the third quarter, forcing eight more turnovers and limiting Chaparral (6-14, 3-3) to 1-for-6 shooting from the field.
“We figured they were quick,” FitzSimons said. “They’ve got a lot of speed, but if we could get them where we wanted to trap them and force them into some of those turnovers, that helps create offense for us and creates momentum.”
Leavitt’s long-range shooting didn’t hurt, either. The senior guard hit 9 of 21 3-pointers.
“He’s one of those kids that when he’s on, he’s on,” FitzSimons said. “It helps when he’s on. That kind of gets our offense going.”
Leavitt hit several shots from well beyond the arc, and FitzSimons admitted his guard basically has a green light to shoot.
“Within the flow of our offense, (but) that’s easier said than done,” FitzSimons said. “We tell him (to shoot) within the flow of the offense, but if he’s got an open look, he’ll take it.”
Dee Bowler added 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals for the Bulldogs.
“We’ve just got to be road warriors,”FitzSimons said. “We’ve got six games left and four of them are on the road. It should be fun down the stretch jockeying for a playoff spot.”
Tyree McNeal led Chaparral with 19 points, and teammate Richard Nelson had 10 rebounds.
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.