Santa Clarita teams went undefeated in the opening, play-in round of the Hart Holiday Classic on Tuesday.
The hosting Indians, Golden Valley and Castaic all added a win on Tuesday and head into pool play as the top seeds.
Golden Valley dismantles Van Nuys, 74-24
The Grizzlies (10-5) couldn’t have asked for a better start to the tournament with a 50-point win fueled by tough defense and ball movement.
Senior Deon Lopez led all players with game-highs 19 points and seven rebounds.
Golden Valley shared the ball beautifully but to the point where head coach Chris Printz had to tell his team yet again they were ‘too unselfish’ when the team passed up multiple open looks to keep finding better shots.
“We move the ball a lot mainly because everybody wants to come together and score as a team, not just as one,” said Lopez. “It’s a me over we type of thing and that’s it really.”
The unselfishness led to Golden Valley reaching its big goal of having every active player score and all 13 Grizzlies notched points on the box score. The team also got 11 points from junior Angelo Samson off the bench.
The Grizzlies would go on a 25-0 run in the first half to end the game early and go into the second half with a running clock.
“We’ve been recovering mentally, and having this break is great,” said Lopez. “Now we’re finally able to come back as a team and just work. It feels great now and everything’s going fine.”
Golden Valley will now play Arleta on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Hart.
Castaic survives late surge from Highland, wins in overtime, 63-61
Senior Jonathan Hakim led the Coyotes with 10 of his 20 points coming in the first half. The captain also racked up six rebounds and three assists.
Castaic would work the ball around and find open looks, on its way to a comfortable lead.
Highland’s full court press managed to cause some problems and slow down the Coyotes. The Bulldogs would swing the momentum with an 8-0 run but couldn’t get in striking distance.
“The biggest thing is trust,” said Coyotes head coach Dominique Butler. “These guys are from different schools and places. They’re still trying to build chemistry and learn each other. If you trust each other, anything is possible.”
Highland surged in the fourth quarter, outscoring Castaic 20-11 in the final period of regulation thanks to four Coyote turnovers.
Bulldogs’ senior Ben Estrada did everything in his power to push his team into the win column but they’d fall just short. Estrada led the way for the Bulldogs with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The senior also hit two clutch free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation.
However, a freshman would be the difference in overtime as Coyotes point guard Noah Crouch registered six of his 13 points in OT.
Castaic junior Tashaun Barron would seal the deal with a game-winning block on an Estrada shot just before time expired.
“It’s not a one-man game, it’s a team effort and they did that today,” said Butler. “There’s no 20- or 30-point scorers. There’s guys collectively coming off the bench and doing their jobs.”
The Coyotes now enter the bracket with a rematch with Granada Hills Charter, who are coming off a 63-51 loss to Camarillo. The Highlanders bested Castaic in non-league action just a few weeks ago but the Coyotes are excited for another shot at the team that bested them.
Castaic and Granada face off again on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Hart.
Hart hammers Arleta, 77-35
The hosting Indians (8-6) took care of business in their play-in game with the Arleta Broncos (8-7). Hart won the game 77-35 behind great defense and shooting.
Indians guard Devon Strong led all scorers with 22 points while also adding three steals and two assists. Strong hit a three-pointer to start every quarter. His streaky shooting would free up space for his teammates and help five different Indians score over seven points.
“I just see the rim so I just shoot it,” said Strong. “I trust my shot.”
Hart nearly shut out the Broncos in the second quarter until two late threes from Arleta’s Josue Herrera. The six points would be Arleta’s only points in the quarter but that wouldn’t be the group’s worst offensive quarter.
Herrera and the Broncos had their best period in the third quarter. The team nearly outscored Hart thanks to some good pick and rolls as well as some nice passing from senior Robert Gomez.
The Indians were able to turn the jets back on on defense and coast to victory in the fourth. Hart had four players with multiple steals as the Indians held the Broncos to just four points in the final quarter.
Hart also shot the ball well as five Indians finished with seven or more points. Junior Tim Larkins tallied up 14 points while Gabe Stokes had 10.
The home team will now play Van Nuys on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
“There’s obviously good competition here but I don’t think there’s anybody we can’t handle,” said Strong. “I don’t think anyone’s better than us in this tournament.”