Valley boys overcome late lapses to defeat rival Burrell

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Monday, December 18, 2017 | 11:24 PM


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Mark Faulx saw some of the tell-tale fourth-quarter problems that cost Valley games in previous seasons crop up again Monday night. Forced, missed shots. Turnovers. A double-digit lead that began to dwindle.

For the second consecutive game, Valley made enough plays down the stretch to avoid a repeat of those teams' fate.

A hot shooting night from Nyjewel Carter and Dru Stokes and clutch free-throw shooting lifted Valley to a 70-61 win over visiting rival Burrell in a nonsection boys basketball game Monday night.

"I'm trying to keep it in perspective because there's been seasons here where we found a way to lose games," Faulx said. "I'm certainly happy that we played hard and that we came out on top. I'm also looking for us to be better in situations. I don't think we managed our situation very well. We took bad shots when the opportunity to take great shots or no shots presented itself.

"It's something for us to work on. For this team to be better, we've got to handle situational basketball better."

Valley led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, but an 11-0 run put Burrell back into it. The Bucs trimmed their deficit to five points on a Seth Fischbach 3-pointer with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining, but Valley (2-1) hit all eight of its free throws to put the game away.

The Vikings made 16 of 22 free throws after struggling from the line in a 65-55 win over Freeport on Friday.

Carter and Stokes also made the difference for Valley, which played its third consecutive game without injured starters Deonte Ross and Alex Ward. Carter hit four 3-pointers and scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including a stretch of nine points in a row on a pair of 3s and a three-point play. Stokes scored 19 and hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 2.8 seconds of the third quarter.

Carter also shot 7 for 7 from the free-throw line after an 0-for-5 performance there against Freeport.

"He's a scorer, and sometimes I want him to stop scoring for a moment," Faulx said. "It's hard for them sometimes to change that switch, so you always have to make sure you're careful when you're coaching that when they change that switch it's not too early and they can't change that switch back if they need to."

Senior Darius Johnson, playing his second consecutive game for Valley after missing the season opener to injury, had a highlight play of his own in the third quarter when he blocked a shot, corralled the rebound and converted a layup while getting fouled.

Burrell lost its third consecutive game, with mistakes costing the Bucs against their archrival. They committed 22 turnovers against Valley's pressure defense, and their fourth-quarter rally wasn't enough to make up for the early mistakes.

Friday, Burrell saw a last-minute lead slip away in a loss to Armstrong.

"It's like we're a half a second slow with a lot of our decision-making," coach Shawn Bennis said. "In that half-second, a lot of things can occur: a turnover, the defense can get into position, those types of things. I tell them all the time, 'When you think, you stink,' and right now, we're just thinking a little bit too much."

Donovan Russell muscled his way inside for 18 points for Burrell (2-4), and Logan Bitar slashed his way to 17.

The teams played evenly in the first half, with Valley taking a six-point halftime lead with a late 8-2 run. Stokes scored 11 points in the first half.

Jacob Robertson converted a three-point play to help Burrell trim its deficit to one point late in the third, but Valley closed the quarter on an 11-0 run, capped by Stokes' pair of 3s.

"That half a second's costing us," Bennis said. "Not that we can't correct it. They showed guts coming back and making a little run."

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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