Valley takes control of Northeast League, defeats Desert Pines

Chris Swanson often uses his speed to push the offensive tempo for Valley’s boys basketball team.

Swanson’s quickness came in handy on defense Friday night as well.

With the Vikings leading Desert Pines 71-68 with 11 seconds to go, Swanson streaked to cut off an inbounds pass intended for Julian Jacobs.

Swanson came up with the steal, then nailed two free throws with 7.8 seconds to seal a 73-68 home victory. The win put the Vikings (13-4, 4-0 Northeast League) alone atop the Northeast League.

“Chris is probably as fast as any kid in town and he just went with the guy, got his hand on the ball and got the steal and sunk the free throws to seal the game for us,” Valley coach Brian Farnsworth said.

Desert Pines (8-2, 3-1) led for much of the first half, but Valley took the lead for good on a rebound basket by Daniel Young that made it 47-45 with 3:47 to go in the third quarter.

Valley pushed the lead to as much as 11 points at 69-58 before Desert Pines mounted a comeback, fueled in part by Valley turnovers.

The Jaguars turned five Vikings turnovers into eight fourth-quarter points. A steal and layup by Donavin Wright made it 69-64 with 1:17 to play.

Jacobs then hit a driving layup off another turnover that cut Valley’s lead to 69-66, and that was followed by a Thomas Hooper basket set up by another Vikings’ turnover that made it 69-68 with 37.8 seconds to play.

Keanu Peters hit two free throws with 30.8 seconds left to extend Valley’s lead to 71-68, and Swanson’s foul shots sealed the win.

Valley was 0 of 8 on 3-pointers in the first quarter and 2-for-14 in the first half, but knocked down some key 3-pointers in the second half.

Peters hit three second-half 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 17 points.

“We’ve kind of been a second-half team all season and come out focused in the third quarter and made runs,” Farnsworth said. “I just credit that to our kids being focused and not being afraid and doing what they’ve got to do to get themselves in position to win.”

Ryan Johnson scored 14 points, Swanson had 13 points, four assists and two steals, and Caleb Carter had 12 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots.

“He’s our only senior we’ve got, and he’s a leader and he’s not going to let this team go down,” Farnsworth said of Carter. “If he needs to put them on his back, and if that means getting that rebound, he’s going to do that. The kids look up to him, and he doesn’t let them down. He’s doing a tremendous job.”

Najee McIver led Desert Pines with 17 points. Jacobs had 16 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Hooper had 16 points, 14 rebounds and three steals for the Jaguars.

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at or 702-380-4587.

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