Key defensive stops in the final minutes of play powered Golden Valley Grizzlies boys’ basketball to victory on Friday.
After a long back-and-forth fourth quarter, Golden Valley pulled away and finished the night with a 73-63 win over the hosting Hart Indians.
The Grizzlies (17-7, 5-3) never trailed in the contest but kept up the pace for all 32 minutes to hold off the rallying Indians.
Senior point guard Tristan Tiu was electric in the fourth quarter, where he added 12 of his 19 points.
“(Tiu) is so talented he can create his own shot, but we executed plays for him down the stretch,” said Grizzlies coach Chris Printz in a phone interview. “It was good to see his teammates executing for him down the stretch.”
The Grizzlies got off to a 7-0 lead to start the game but Printz knows when playing against Hart no lead is safe.
“We started off 7-0, but of course it’s a Tom Kelly-coached team, so they’re going come back and they did,” Printz said.
Golden Valley is collectively the shortest team in the league and had its hands full with Hart 7-footer Craig Irons.
“We’re probably the smallest team in the league but we defend as a team,” Printz said. “I think that’s the key for us. We also rebound as a team. We may not be big but our guards are effective and significant rebounders. Our so-called forwards do the dirty work, screening, pushing pace and getting those rebounds.”
Slowing down Hart guard Deven Strong was also a focus for Golden Valley, which has outscored opponents by nearly 10 points over the past four games.
“Defense has always been the blueprint that our success is going to be built upon and we’ve gotten better of late,” Printz said. “We did a good job on Deven. He still ended up with 13 points. We tried to take him out of the game because we know how talented he is.”
Hart sharpshooter Jack Oldhafer’s absence has hurt the team as of late. Oldhafer put up 30 points on Golden Valley earlier in the season but suffered a leg injury against West Ranch about two weeks ago. Hart (12-10, 3-5) has dropped four in a row since losing Oldhafer.
However, in the first round with Hart, in which the Indians won 62-52, the Grizzlies were without senior Angelo Samson, who made his presence felt all over the floor on Friday.
Samson nearly finished with a triple-double after registering 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight of the team’s 20 assists.
“We had 20 assists as a team but that’s just kind of what we do,” Printz said. “We don’t look for a good shot, we look for a great shot.”
Sophomore Wyatt Printz also played for the Grizzlies, adding 11 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks. The sophomore has had a solid week, likely making dinner time at the Printz house a good time.
“(Wyatt’s) 11 was a little unexpected,” coach Printz said. “He’s had a good week. It’s a little awkward talking about him but he did well. This is dad and coach talking.”
Hart is still in control of its own destiny and a handful of wins could land the team back in the postseason despite the four-game skid.
The Grizzlies have now won four straight games and sit firmly in third place in the Foothill League. It’s a tough schedule ahead but Golden Valley has the momentum and teamwork to finish the regular season strong
“I’m hoping we can keep playing together,” coach Printz said. “When you have 20 assists, it tells you your team is still looking for one another. Late in the season, I’ve seen guys take a lot on their own shoulders and do too much, but our guys are not one-strong, we’re 14-strong, and we pride ourselves on that. We have a tough schedule down the stretch. We’re just hoping we can make the playoffs and make a run.”
The Grizzlies and Indians return to Foothill League action on Tuesday, as Hart hosts Saugus while Golden Valley heads to Canyon. Both games tip off at 6:30 p.m.