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Lindhurst boys earn bragging rights
Blazers hold off Marysville
Lindhurst High senior Cedrick Thomas didn't need the constant reminders at school all day to realize Tuesday night's matchup with rival Marysville was a big deal.
When it comes to Blazers vs. Indians, not much needs to be said. The Yuba County rivals have been playing basketball against each other for nearly 40 years.
"It's pretty simple — we have to beat them," Thomas said. "The school kind of puts pressure on us to beat them, so it's always going to be intense. It's a game we mark on the schedule."
And now the Blazers can mark a big 'W' next to the game.
Lindhurst held off an inspired effort by Marysville as the Blazers came through with a 61-52 victory in Olivehurst to close out the first cycle of Golden Empire League play.
It was Lindhurst's second win over Marysville this season. The two teams squared off at the Wheatland Tournament on Dec. 1.
The Indians came as close as six points in the fourth quarter on Tuesday, but Devin Ward's huge 3-point shot made it 56-47 with just more than 2 minutes remaining.
The Blazers converted five of their free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
Thomas, a three-year starter for Lindhurst, is being asked to do more than he ever has in his stellar prep career.
The two-time All-GEL selection has played every position, 1-5 on the court this year and he showed off that versatility Tuesday night.
He scored a game-high 19 points, displayed a nice outside shot (two 3s), a smooth mid-range jumper and his trademark leaping ability on an alley-oop dunk in the second quarter that ignited the home crowd.
"I'm just trying to set an example for everybody by working hard and doing whatever needs to be done to get the W," Thomas said. "It's just preparing me for the next level."
A point guard by trade, Thomas said learning every spot on the court has made him an all-around better player.
He consistently drew attention from Marysville defenders and was able to set up his teammates to the tune of eight assists. Thomas also pulled down six rebounds.
Thomas said he can't get those assists if his teammates don't finish the play, something the Blazers did often against Marysville.
Ward, a fellow senior, scored 17 points and has been right alongside Thomas filling up the stat sheet all season for Lindhurst (12-10, 3-2).
Following Thomas' dunk in the second quarter, Ward's 3-pointer extended the Blazers' lead to 27-19. Each of Ward's three 3-pointers killed a Marysville (5-17, 0-5) rally.
The two teams traded blows for the majority of the first half, but back-to-back layups from Angel Sanchez and Tim Endicott gave Lindhurst a 33-24 lead at halftime.
"I like setting the guys up because getting them points gets them confidence and helps us all around," Thomas said. "It spreads the opponents' defense out."
Brandon Graves led Marysville with 16 points and Manny Montano added 10 for the Indians.
Lindhurst's Malik Payton was dominant on the glass for the Blazers with 17 rebounds to go with his seven points.
The Blazers will start the second half of GEL play on Friday at home against first-place Capital Christian and Marysville will travel to Dixon.
With three of their next five games at home, and a "road" game at Marysville, Blazers coach Rick Wise is confident his team can make a run to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
"I think the kids are geared up for it and that's the big thing, they've got their mind set," Wise said. "We know what our goal is and we know what we have to do to get there."