Originally Published: January 11, 2019 11:24 p.m.
CHINO VALLEY — Learning how to win on the hardwood can be difficult for an inexperienced bunch.
Just ask Chino Valley’s boys basketball team, which has had mixed success during the 2018-19 season.
On Friday, Jan. 11, in a 3A West region contest, the Cougars ran into a Northwest Christian squad that’s got the requisite experience under its belt and the teamwork to match.
The 3A No. 26-ranked Crusaders held Chino Valley to a combined 17 points in the second and third quarters and went on to defeat the No. 21 Cougars, 67-47, at their main gym. On Nov. 23, Northwest Christian’s football team won the 3A state championship in three overtimes over Yuma Catholic, and some of those players are on the basketball team.
They know how to win.
“Our effort wasn’t there, like how we’re used to playing,” Chino Valley coach Ravi Shetty said. “Northwest did a good job coming out and playing aggressive. They’re football state champions, so they kind of understand urgency. They played much better than us. We just have to regroup and have better effort next game.”
Chino Valley’s record in power-point games fell to a respectable 7-3 and 1-1 in region. Northwest Christian bounced back from a disappointing loss to Fountain Hills last week and improved to 5-4 and an unblemished 3-0 in league play. NW Christian’s in first place in the six-team region.
Three Crusaders registered double-figures scoring, led by sophomore guard Jeremy Proch, who came off the bench to post 13 points, three rebounds, a steal and an assist.
Starting freshman guard Logan Hopkins followed for the visitors, notching 12 points on four 3-pointers, and added eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. Hopkins netted all of his points on four 3-pointers in the second half, three of which came in the pivotal third period.
“My team helped me a lot,” said Hopkins, adding that this was only his second start as a varsity player. “As a freshman, it’s kind of hard going up [to varsity]. They just kept me going — ‘Keep shooting, you’ve got it.’ I got relaxed. And once I just started hitting some [3-pointers], it just kept coming to me.”
Junior forward Jonathan Metzger added 12 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal. Brady Wijbrandts also stood out with six points, 10 rebounds, two assists and a steal. Northwest Christian converted four of its seven treys on the night in the third period.
“Traditionally, we’ve been terrible in the third quarter, so that was really surprising,” Crusaders coach Jason Cook said. “This team isn’t very big, so we rely a lot on the outside shot. It’s nice to see some [threes] fall [Friday].”
For Chino Valley, star junior swingman Daniel Martinez scored a game-high 27 points behind three 3-pointers. He also had six rebounds, three steals and an assist.
“We got caught in a really bad night — and I still think we’re that team [that can do well in the region] to be honest,” Martinez said. “We’ve just got to bounce back. We came out really flat. We couldn’t get energized at all.”
Junior big man Trey Ely came off the bench to tally nine points, five boards, a steal and a block. Thomas Bartels added four points, 12 rebounds, an assist and a steal for the hosts.
It doesn’t get any easier for Chino Valley, which plays host to region opponent Wickenburg (8-0, 2-0 West region) at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 14, at the Cougars’ main gym.
Northwest Christian welcomes region foe and 3A No. 18-ranked Kingman Academy (4-3, 0-1 heading into Friday) to its gym in Phoenix at 7 p.m. Jan. 14.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.