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Mid-Valley hoops stars shine
Seniors go out in style at Showcase
Even after playing four AAU basketball games prior to tip-off on Saturday night, Lindhurst High senior Cedrick Thomas still had some strength left in his legs to put on a show.
The Blazers' star point guard and MVP of the Golden Empire League opened play at the fourth annual Yuba-Sutter Senior Showcase with a thunderous one-handed slam dunk to ignite the crowd at River Valley High's Falcon Gymnasium.
Thomas was one of 21 senior athletes to don their school colors on the hardwood for the final time in a display of the Mid-Valley's top talent.
Those 21 players were divided into two squads labeled East (dark-colored jerseys) and West (light).
The game featured teammates matching up with each other, including Thomas taking on his Blazer teammate Devin Ward and Gridley big men Mat Scott and Tyler Abrego locking horns.
Athletes that spent most of the season playing against each other became teammates for four quarters and it was the West team that came away with a 102-73 victory.
The team was coached by River Valley's Brad McIntire, who led the Falcons to their first playoff berth. Faith Christian coach Rick Daugherty headed the East team after leading the Lions to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship.
River Valley senior Stuart Bradley earned the game's MVP honors and scored 16 points. Ward was the West's team MVP with 19 points and Tyler Abrego was the East's top player and led all scorers with 23 points.
Pierce's Oscar Dorantes dropped in 14 points and Faith Christian's section championship hero Deep Bhatti added 11 for the West.
Brayden Bartolome of Marysville tacked on 13 points for the East and was the team's only other play in double-digit scoring totals.
Thomas put on a show at halftime, winning the showcase's Slam Dunk Contest. His winning slam was a one-handed beauty as he jumped over both Abrego (6-foot-4) and Yuba City's Nathan Gillming (6-3).
His Lindhurst teammate, Ward, defeated Wheatland High junior Taylor Balogi in the 3-point shootout, besting a field of 12 shooters.
The East's roster included Sacramento Valley League MVP Romario Acosta of Live Oak, Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League MVP Micah Atkins, Thomas, Gillming, Abrego, Bartolome, Thomas Marquette (New Life Christian), Gurvir Gill (River Valley), Austin Webster (Sutter) and Josh Crawley (Wheatland).
Teaming up on the West were Bradley, Ward, Dorantes, Bhatti, Scott, Brandon Graves (Marysville), Levi Stevenson (Sutter), Malik Payton (Lindhurst), Jordan Noall (River Valley), Aaron Pamma (Live Oak) and Louis Mowers (Yuba City).