Valor Christian abandoned its 3-point attack in favor of a full-court press defense. The change paid off.
The Eagles pulled away in the second half as the press forced Golden out of its offense and into turnovers, which led to a 62-46 Jeffco 4A boys basketball victory Jan. 30 in the Valor Christian gym.
Valor, ranked fourth in the CHSAANow.Com Class 4A poll, improved to 15-1 overall and 8-1 in the league. The Eagles' only loss this season was a 57-44 setback to the Demons on Jan. 8 in Golden.
Sixth-ranked Golden slipped to 12-5 and 8-1 in league play.
“We wanted to forget about the past and just play our game,” said 6-foot-5 junior Jalen Sanders. “We made an adjustment at halftime to come out and press them a lot harder. They couldn't really handle the pressure in the second half.”
With the game tied at 31 early in the third quarter, Valor went on a 14-2 run to grab a 45-33 lead, and the Eagles were never challenged in the fourth quarter. The Demons turned the ball over four times and missed five shots during the Valor surge.
“We went back to a real traditional press for us, and I thought Golden had a good plan,” said Valor coach Troy Pachner. “They didn't dribble into it very often, but it took them off their base and they got sped up. Sometimes when you press you are not trying to turn them over, you're trying to change the pace in which they play. That worked.”
Sanders paced the Eagles with 21 points. Junior Kayle Knuckles contributed 12 points and Josh Randle 11.
Sanders also added to Valor's second defensive effort as he helped limit Golden's Kayden Sund to only four points in the second half. He also had seven of Valor's 30 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
The Eagles were 4-for-22 from 3-point range but finished the game shooting 42 percent from the field.
Sund, a 6-5 junior standout, scored 15 of the Demons' 28 first-half points and wound up with 19 points for the game.
They said it
“It's kind of funny, we're a great 3-point shooting team,” insisted Pachner. “We had not shot well against Golden twice this year for some reason. So what we did at that 14-2 stretch, the defense turned up and almost everything we did was at the rim.”
Golden coach John Anderson admitted the Demons' strategy didn't work.
“The whole game plan against them was take care of the basketball and you're in the game,” he said. “You rebound and you're in the game. We're one of the best rebounding teams in the state, and we got killed on the boards. And the turnovers. They turn you over and convert and took us out of the game. We couldn't get a flow.”
Valor entertains Conifer Feb. 5 while Golden is at Evergreen.