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CIF DIII CHAMPIONSHIP: SD CAVERS CLAIM BACK-TO-BACK OVER VALHALLA WITH PIZZAZZ

SAN DIEGO CAVERS CELEBRATE DIVISION III CIF CHAMPIONSHIP

BOYS DIVISION III CIF FINALS

BY ADAM PAUL

PHOTOS BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

ECPREPS.COM

#4 SAN DIEGO 76, #2 VALHALLA 56

In front of a packed house on the campus of Mira Mesa High School, the Cavers showed who was the more athletic team pretty much from the get-go and went back and forth until the final two minutes of the first quarter when they went on a 10-0 run to stake an 18-8 lead after the first period.

Despite the ten point lead San Diego knew that Valhalla was capable of making a comeback as they specialized in the three ball which had earned them the nickname “three-ball-halla” in the regular season.

However, there is a saying in life “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Unfortunately, in this case, it wasn’t a sword but three-point shot that was the phrase for the Valhalla Norsemen.

Valhalla who was without Head Coach Keith Jackson who is getting married this weekend came into the CIF Division III Finals contest having made a CIF Section record 322 long rangers were held to 32% on the night as they made 11-of-34 attempts against the San Diego Cavers.

The Cavers showed they were ready for the Norsemen as they used the strategy that Del Norte tried to implement in limiting the Norsemen, which was partially successful as Dom Safarta only scored 8 points in the semi-finals but others stepped up including Jordan Gaines who scored over 20 points in the contest to propel the Norsemen into the finals.

Safarta, who came into the contest against the Cavers having made 122 3-pointers was hassled the entire evening as San Diego held him to only one make on the evening out of ten attempts.

San Diego had defenders on him the entire night throwing off his normal routine, despite this the Norsemen were able to erase a 14-point deficit in the second quarter. They were able to do so behind Evan O’Neil who drained a trio of three-pointers to bring the Norsemen within 27-23 with 2:31 remaining in the first half. This little run by the Norsemen didn’t phase the Cavers as they used a 7-0 run finish off the half and bring the lead back to double-digits 34-23 at the intermission.

The second half would continue the way it ended as the Cavers continued on their run pushing it all the way to 32-12 to lead 59-34. They would outscore Valhalla 25-11 in the third quarter.

Leading the championship charge for the Cavers was Jaliel Jackson who had already won both a CIF and State Championship this past football season, on the night against Valhalla he poured in 25 points and corralled in 7 boards, AJ Burgin another big-time scorer for the Cavers scored 15 points while grabbing 7 boards and dishing out 8 assists, he scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, also contributing for San Diego was Steve Stinson who scored 12 and Tyler Castillo with 11 points.

On the other side for the Norsemen, it was Joe Avalos and Evan O’Neil who each had 15 points while Safarta was limited to 10 points as was Jordan Gaines.

The loss for Valhalla snapped their fourteen-game winning streak and is their first in over a month when they dropped their only league game of the year to Granite Hills 68-53 back on January 11th.

With the loss, the Norsemen fall to 28-4 and will more than likely be on the road for the State playoffs. It was also their second loss in a CIF Championship game as they dropped a 61-49 verdict back in the 2014-15 season to league foe El Cajon Valley.

San Diego with the victory extended their winning streak to 12 games since their last loss over a month ago back on January 17th to University City 51-47. They will more than likely play at home in the State Playoffs. They also improve their record to 22-8.

The victory also gives San Diego High back to back CIF Titles as they beat Southwest EC 56-54 in last years Division IV contest. The CIF crown is also Coach Basil Fontenot’s second since he took over the program three years ago.

 

 

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