It started with a simple free throw by Golden Valley’s Christian Carroll.
Almost 6 minutes later, the Cougars had already gained firm control with a 13-0 run to start the game. Golden Valley breezed to a 67-47 win over Atwater in the Nest on Wednesday night to extend its remarkable streak to 28 straight victories over the Falcons that dates back to 2003.
Like most of those wins, this one was never really in doubt.
Carroll scored 21 points and Evan Stillahn, Ben Fletcher and Devon Powell all added 10 points each as the Cougars improved to 19-5 overall and 6-1 in the Central California Conference.
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The Falcons (14-10, 2-5) looked confused from the start against Golden Valley’s zone press as Atwater turned the ball over five times in the first 6 minutes.
“I think we kind of took them by surprise,” Carroll said. “We prepared for them for a couple practices, working on a zone press. We tried to fool them a bit because we basically manned them up the first time we played them. It worked because we started out 13-0, we forced some turnovers and got off to a pretty good start.”
The win improved Golden Valley’s current winning streak to seven games and moved them one win away from a fourth straight 20-win season.
The Falcon guards spent a lot of time face-guarding Stillahn, who has been averaging more than 20 points per game in the last six games.
The Cougars found points from other players. Fletcher had the hot hand early, scoring all 10 of his points in the first half.
“I thought Ben was outstanding,” Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter said. “He had a solid double-double. A lot of that was dirty work on the glass, getting second shots. He did a great job on the defensive boards. He probably had at least 15 rebounds.”
The Falcons finally got on the scoreboard when Brodie Patterson scored inside with 2:51 left in the first quarter. Atwater pulled to within 16-7 late in the first quarter, but a Josh Sykes dunk and free throw gave the Cougars a 19-7 lead after the first quarter.
Corbett McDaniel (13 points) knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second quarter to help the Falcons close the deficit to 25-19 only to see Golden Valley close the half with 10-1 run to take a 35-20 lead at intermission.
The Falcons never threatened in the second half.
“Toward the end of the first quarter and early in the second quarter, I thought we got kind of whiny,” Hunter said. “We were whining about the calls. We called a timeout and told them to stop and just play. They played through it.”
It was a physical game with Sykes and Atwater’s Ben Peterson (11 points) and Josh Heller all fouling out. There were four technical fouls called, including two on Falcons assistant Seneca Ybarra.