Sports

Why strength in numbers has Golden Valley celebrating a CCC championship.

Golden Valley senior Bryan Livesay (3), shown here against El Capitan earlier this season, led the Cougars with 18 points in a 86-54 win over Buhach Colony on Friday night.
Golden Valley senior Bryan Livesay (3), shown here against El Capitan earlier this season, led the Cougars with 18 points in a 86-54 win over Buhach Colony on Friday night. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Bryan Livesay had the hot hand early on Friday night against Buhach Colony. The Cougars senior hit two early 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter.

Teammate Zack Fernandez took the scoring baton in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 12 points.

Before the night was over, Golden Valley was celebrating a Central California Conference championship with a 86-54 win over the Thunder at Cougar Arena. Seven different players scored eight or more points for Golden Valley, which extend its winning streak to a season-high 10 consecutive games to improve to 21-5 overall and 10-0 in the CCC.

The Thunder (14-12, 5-5 CCC) were led by Anoop Nagra, who connected on five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. Gerald Braxton added 15 points and nine rebounds for BC.

The Cougars depth was on display as there was no drop off in performance as GV coach Keith Hunter shuffled guys on and off the floor.

“It’s a huge strength as long as I realize that,” Hunter said.

Often coaches will fall in love with a group on the floor or they will rely too heavily on one or two players. Hunter has the luxury of going with a rotation of nine or 10 players.

The Cougars have relied heavily on their MVP candidate Etrell Bowers and he’s delivered. The 6-foot-4 senior finished with 11 points against the Thunder.

Golden Valley has plenty of other players capable of picking up the scoring load on any given night. It’s been different players each game.

“I love that,” Hunter said. “I always like balance. It makes it harder to prepare for., it’s not like you can just take one guy away.”

Zack Fernandez added 12 points by slashing to the basket. Isaiah Daniel chipped in with 10 points. Brendan Nole is capable of getting hot from outside. Aurrion Harris has had some big offensive nights.

However, the key to playing time often comes on the defensive end.

“Our depth allows us to do what we do,” Hunter said. “We can play good defense. We can keep the pressure up and not tire ourselves out. Sometimes that happens to teams. You press and you tire yourselves out. When we can keep the pressure up we’re pretty good”

The Cougars like to press full court from start to finish. They want an up-tempo game and their depth allows them to do that.

Golden Valley’s depth also helps at practice.

“It makes practices intense,” Livesay said. “We’ve got a lot of good players so practices are competitive. It’s not just one team whaling on the other team in practice.”

The CCC championship is Golden Valley’s first since 2014 and the seventh in the program’s history.

“It’s big for us because it’s something we’ve worked really hard to get,” Livesay said. “We’ve been together since Hoover. That is what we’ve been working toward.”

El Capitan 62, Patterson 47 in Patterson — Dillon Greenwood scored 21 points as the Gauchos won their fourth straight game to improve to 20-6 overall and 9-2 in the CCC. Marcus McCutchen added 17 points for El Capitan.

Merced 55, Atwater 50 in Merced — Dhameer Warren scored 19 points as the Bears improved to 4-6 in the CCC. Jadin Loy and Desmond Thompson both scored 10 for Merced.

Robert Smid paced the Falcons with 30 points.

Boys Soccer

Le Grand 4, Mariposa 0 in Le Grand — The Bulldogs recorded their fourth shutout in a row. Sergio Zagal, Brian Lua, Yahir Gonzales and Hector Tejada all scored as Le Grand improved to 10-0-2 in the Southern League.



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