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THREE BALLAHALLA ROCKS THE THUNDER DOME AS SAFARTA EXPLODES

EASTCOUNTY BOYS PREP BASKETBALL

BY ADAM PAUL

CIF DIVISION III PLAYOFFS

#2 VALHALLA 82, #15 SOUTHWEST EL CENTRO 62

VALHALLA STUDENT SECTION IN THE THUNDER DOME / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

In front of a raucous student section in the Thunder Dome, the Valhalla Norsemen were able to overcome some ugly play and put away the visiting Eagles of Southwest El Centro.

EVAN O’NEIL GOING UP FOR THE BALL FOR THE NORSEMEN / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

Early on both teams got into foul trouble as the officials were calling a tight contest but that wouldn’t stop Senior point guard Domanic Safarta from working his magic as drained four three-pointers to give the Norsemen an early 21-15 lead. The Eagles despite the shooting of the Norsemen were able to keep pace as they played a physical game and matched the Norsemen almost point for point.

Starting the second quarter the Eagles mounted a small rally as they went on a 4-0 run to pull within 21-19 but once again Safarta for the Norsemen took over as he went to the foul line 12 times in the quarter in which he made 11 of those attempts. El Centro Southwest countered with a balanced offense as seven players scored in the quarter but were still outscored 23-22 to trail 43-37 at the break.

Valhalla would finally break away in the second half as they were able to outscore Southwest El Centro 38-25.

JORDAN GAINES KNOCKING DOWN A SHOT / PHOTO BY DON DEMARS PHOTOGRAPHY

Leading all scorers on the night was Safarta who racked up 43 points as he canned 5 long balls, he also went to the charity stripe 26 times and made 22 of them. His teammate Joe Avalos who wasn’t supposed to play as he had a 100-degree temperature and was a game-time decision tallied 18 points while draining 5 three balls.

Overall the Norsemen on the night canned 10 long-range shots to extend their CIF Section record which they held at 303 coming into the game and with the total from the nights contest they now have 313 on the season.

Scoring for the Eagles of Southwest El Centro was Armando Zavala who led with 12 points while Adam Rubio tallied 11 points including 3 three-pointers.

“I thought we did a good job early on against the Eagles defense, we gave up some easy buckets but made the adjustments to get it back into our favor.” Said Valhalla head coach Keith Jackson

The win for the Norsemen was their first playoff victory since the 2014-15 season when they made it to the SAN DIEGO CIF DIVISION III title contest.

With the victory, the Norsemen also extend their school record for most wins in a season to 27 as they are now 27-3. They will move onto Saturday night’s Quarterfinals where they will host the winner of the Madison/Sage Creek contest. The game on Saturday night will be at 7 PM in El Cajon at Valhalla High.

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