After a loss to Chaparral last year in the Cheney tournament, the Valley Center High School boys' basketball team took revenge on its home court Tuesday night.
The Hornets beat Chaparral 78-61 in the second round of the Cardinal Classic at Valley Center. As a result, they will play for third place Saturday in Cheney.
The advancement signaled an improvement for Valley Center, which fell to Chaparral 59-52 in last season’s fifth-place game. John Wetig, second-year coach at Valley Center, said the boys would prefer to play for a championship but he was proud they would be vying for third.
“This is a huge step for our program,” he added. “We’ll take that any day.”
Tuesday’s game remained close until midway through the third quarter, when Chaparral led 40-38. Valley Center put together a 7-0 run that resulted in a 45-40 lead. Chaparral junior Ryley Menhusen finally answered with a field goal, but Valley Center sophomore Blake Crager hit three of four free throws to give his team a 48-42 advantage.
Hornet junior Zach Brown added a bucket that left Chaparral trailing 50-42. The Roadrunners called for timeout at the 3:23 mark in the third, but the break was followed by Brown’s three-pointer, which lifted the host to a 53-42 lead.
The margin was still 11 points with 2:02 left in the game. Chaparral began to foul its opponent, and the Hornets sank the majority of their free throws and prevailed 78-61.
Wetig said his squad performed better Tuesday than it did Monday, when it lost the first round of the tournament 59-46 to Clearwater.
“I think more things happened for us,” he said of Tuesday’s matchup.
Wetig also recalled that Valley Center did not shoot well last year against Chaparral. He said the Hornets’ offense was better Tuesday and the boys were more sound defensively.
Valley Center shot 76 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line. Brown led the Hornets with 22 points, followed by juniors Jacob Brittain and Dylan Tanner with 11 apiece.
Chaparral junior Jaden Miller scored a team-high 17 points while sophomore Garret Berry contributed 16.
Wetig said the Valley Center program uses the Cardinal Classic as a measuring stick and enjoys the tournament because it allows the Hornets to face teams they usually do not encounter.
“This is a good tournament for us … kind of gets us warmed up for our division,” Wetig continued.
Hornet girls blast Roadrunners again
Like last year, the Valley Center girls had little trouble with Chaparral. After trouncing the Roadrunners 55-20 in 2011, the Hornets walloped their visitor 57-32 on Tuesday.
Valley Center led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter. Junior Megan Barnes drained a three-pointer that put the Hornets ahead 17-8 in the second quarter, and senior Madison Wedekind’s free throw gave the girls a double-digit lead, 18-8.
The host led 38-15 at halftime and 48-26 at the end of the third quarter.
Three Hornet players scored in double figures: Barnes (14 points), senior Taylor Johnson (11) and Wedekind (10). Senior Ravin Coffey was Chaparral’s top scorer with seven points.