A defense-inspired 14-0 spurt was enough to help Valley cure what ailed it against Meadow Bridge Wednesday.
For a while during the Class A No. 10 Greyhounds’ 66-41 triumph over the Wildcats in the Class A Region 3, Section 2 boys semifinal, though, the favorites had a lot ailing them.
Led by strong inside play from Kaleb Farr and the guard play of Logan Pomeroy, Meadow Bridge controlled the tempo and built up an eight-point lead in the first quarter, was tied at 26-all at halftime and led 34-32 with a little under 5:00 to go in the third before Valley started to exhibit signs of life.
Valley, said coach Joe McCoy, finally started doing what it does best - playing pressure defense and getting the ball out in transition.
“Early on, yes, I thought we took them too lightly,” said McCoy. “We came out in the second half and started applying pressure.
“When you press, pressure means you put pressure on the ball. We did, and we started playing a lot better, especially defensively.”
While they escaped with the verdict in a contest that was close for a majority of the time, McCoy says he gets anxious when his Greyhounds don’t play well for a game’s entirety.
“A win’s a win, whether it be by one point or 20 points,” he said. “But, it’s like John John (assistant coach John McGinnis) always tells me, ‘We’re Jekyll and Hyde.’ We just don’t know who’s going to show up.”
Trailing 34-32 after Meadow Bridge’s Cody White converted a pair of free throws midway through the third period, Valley used its key 14-0 run to get a spark and finally gain control, eventually posting its third victory over the Wildcats on the season.
Raeshawn Breckenridge started the crucial surge with an interior basket, then he collected a nice assist from Henry Barron for two more to put Valley ahead. Druw Bowen then grabbed an offensive rebound and scored while falling backwards, and Keyshawn Payne drilled a trifecta off a Zac Warden assist to move the run to 9-0 and put Valley ahead 41-34 after 24 minutes.
The start of the fourth period yielded five more consecutive Valley points — two from Barron and Bowen and one from Breckenridge — to increase the spread to 12, 46-34.
The Wildcats never got back to within single digits.
Meadow Bridge coach Mark Gladwell felt a defensive change Valley (16-7) made at the outset of the second half proved to be the difference.
“I never thought they’d go box-and-one on us,” Gladwell said after the ‘Hounds and Barron put the clamps on Pomeroy, who had scored 20-plus points on Valley in the two regular meetings. “We had seen it several times and prepared for it. That box-and-one-took us out of our game.” Gladwell said the play of Valley’s Barron was crucial. “He makes them go.”
“The tempo of the game got to us a little,” he added. “Valley has the athletes and the capability to get up and down the floor.”
Breckenridge scored 17 points to lead the Greyhounds, Payne tallied 15, Barron and Bowen netted 10 apiece and Warden chipped in nine.
Pomeroy led Meadow Bridge with 14 points, followed by Farr with 13.
Meadow Bridge ends its season at 12-11.
“They (Valley) are the No 1 seed for a reason, and we played ‘em tough,” Gladwell said.
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