The Valley View Eagles downed Tioga 57-42 for their second district win of the season and Tuesday, Jan. 29 will be one of their biggest games of the season against defending district champions Lindsay.
If the Eagles win out and pick up a victory over the Knights, Valley View could force a tie-breaking game for the top seed in the playoffs.
“They’re so well coached,” Valley View head coach Curtis Wilcox said. “You know, it’s fun as a player and as a coach. You like playing games like that. There’s no pressure on us. Everybody knows we’ve lost Cale [Kassen] so I think kind of opened up the door for everybody else to have a random chance to get in playoffs. Our goal this year has been to first, win district and second, to get into the playoffs and then that’s still out there for us.”
Kassen, who recently signed his national letter of intent to run track for Texas Tech University, suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago against Lindsay in the Eagles’ 60-50 loss.
However, it seemed more serious at the time.
“There was a while where we thought it was fractured, but the next day he went for x-rays and they said it’s a high ankle sprain,” Wilcox said. “That’s usually a four-to-six weeks recovery time, but with Cale’s scholarship, I told him to sit down his dad and that I understood if you guys want to just call it quits for basketball for the rest of season to get healthy for track.”
Kassen is making a quicker recovery than originally projected and could return by the end of the season.
Against Tioga, the Eagles more than survived without Kassen. Valley View had three players in double figures.
Bryce Blumberg led the team with 14 points while Tanner Moss and Josh French added 13 points a piece.
Valley View held an 11-10 advantage after the first quarter, but trailed 29-25 at halftime.
Wilcox said the team suffered from turnovers in the first half.
“We didn’t play well the first half,” Wilcox said. “A lot of it was inconsistency with the way we’ve been playing this year. We play down to the level of our competition a lot of times and we make a lot of silly turnovers. It drives me crazy and we were not finishing around the basket. In the second half, we started doing what we needed to do. We made free throws, which is something that’s been bothering us during the year.”
The Eagles were 13-of-17 from the free-throw line and they stifled Tiogo defensively in the third quarter by holding it to just five points while scoring 17. That gave Valley View the 42-34 lead that they were able to hold on to for the win.
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip