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TWIN CITIES SHOOTOUT: River Valley routs Marysville 64-32
Falcons' defense stifles Indians
Thursday night was a microcosm of how River Valley High's boys basketball team's season has gone thus far.
While the Falcons have hustled on defense and attacked the glass with reckless abandon on both ends of the floor, one simple thing has been missing — getting the ball to fall in the basket.
Through the first eight games, the Falcons averaged just 50 points per contest while struggling to find their range from the field. And although they struggled shooting the ball again on Thursday, their defense more than made up for it.
Led by the steady play of senior forward Stuart Bradley, River Valley overcame a slow start by playing suffocating defense and led from start to finish in a 64-32 victory over Marysville on the opening night of the Twin Cities Shootout at Falcon Gymnasium.
Bradley finished with a game-high 17 points and came down with 10 rebounds for the Falcons, who improved to 3-6 on the year with the victory.
"That's how it's been going for us, we just can't seem to get them to fall in," said River Valley coach Brad McIntire. "It just rattles in and rattles back out. Hopefully, we'll start finding the bottom of the net."
River Valley shot just 12 of 42 from the field in the first half, but still took a 30-12 lead into the intermission. Utilizing a full-court trap, the Falcons harassed the Indians into 21 turnovers in the opening half while limiting Marysville to just 19 shots from the field.
The Falcons shot much better in the third quarter by connecting on 9 of their 23 shots from the floor to build a 49-21 lead heading into the final stanza before emptying their bench for the rest of the night.
With the graduation of the school's all-time leading scorer in Manik Thiara, McIntire said that the Falcons will have to have more of a balanced scoring attack and continue to bring the pressure on defense if they hope to compete for a Tri-County Conference title.
"We're going to have to mix and match this year, but it all goes back to the basics of defense," the veteran coach said. "We're long, and we've got to take advantage of that. We've got to control the boards, move with the ball in the air and get our hands up on defense, which is a lost art in basketball."
Sophomore guard Josh Dhatt used his 6-foot-4 frame to chip in with 10 points and five steals, while senior forward Jordan Noall added seven points and 11 rebounds for River Valley.
Gurvir Gill scored eight points and Shawn Singh had seven off the bench for the Falcons, who return just four players and one starter from last year's team that finished 18-7.
"A lot of the guys haven't had a lot of varsity experience, so we've got to get them up to speed," Bradley said. "I like the fact that we're a close team. We're serious, but we have a lot of fun, too. There's a lot of jokers on the team, which is nice to have."
Brandon Graves had 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks to lead the way for the Indians (3-7), who were out of sorts from the start, much to the chagrin of first-year coach Stan Easter.
"They just ran a basic press, but it looked like we haven't practiced all year," Easter said. "Nobody showed up tonight. There's no way that team is 30 points better than us, but when you don't play hard and you quit on each other, this is what happens.
"You can't coach effort."