For two years, Garrett Hill apprenticed under one of the best aerial artists in the history of the Golden Valley boys basketball team.
So when the 6-foot, 5-inch junior snatched a long rebound and saw nothing but open hardwood in front of him, he only had one thought:
WWJD -- What would John do?
Hill sprinted up the sideline on a dead sprint, curled toward the basket and threw down a one-handed slam, highlighting a 51-44 nonconference win over Tracy on Tuesday night at Cougar Arena.
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"He looked good," Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter said with a sly smile. "That was great to see."
The dunk stirred up memories of John Sykes, who graduated in June and now stars for Columbia College.
"I needed to do it. Someone has to take the place of John. He would throw down like three a game, or close to it," said Hill, who finished with a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds.
"We needed something to get us pumped up."
Junior Trek Fayerweather chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and three assists, Justin Wootten came up with a clutch steal late and Richard Thomas nailed four free throws in the final 21.6 seconds as Golden Valley improved to 3-2.
Tracy led by seven at the half, but buckled down the stretch under Golden Valley's pressure defense.
With defenders jumping toward the ball and turning Tracy guards into traps and double teams, Golden Valley forced 31 turnovers.
It all came to boil in the third quarter. Trailing 26-19, Golden Valley opened the second half on a 15-6 run. Hill had six points during the flurry, while Fayerweather's 3-pointer from the wing with 1:21 left in the quarter gave Golden Valley its first lead since the start of the second, 34-32.
Hunter applauded Fayerweather's effort in the third quarter. The 6-foot-2 junior playmaker had five points, three assists and two rebounds in the frame.
"He has all the tools," Hunter said. "You want to see him using that athleticism to make the guys around him better."
Tracy went nearly four minutes without a point and turned the ball over 11 times in the eight minutes after the halftime break.
Before long, Hill was celebrating with teammates during a timeout, his right hand throbbing and red from a fastbreak dunk.
"I thought we played good in the first half, but you can't shoot 6 for 21 from two feet," Hunter said. "We started making our layups in the second half.
"What carried us, though, was our defense. We're going to lean on our defense, it's obvious."
Sophomore point guard Rob Martinez poured in nine points and Thomas six for Golden Valley.
Forward T.J. Williams led Tracy with 17 points, but had just one field goal in the final two quarters. Tracy has lost four of its first five games.
At Golden Valley
Tracy 6 20 8 10 -- 44
Team 10 9 19 13 -- 51
TRACY -- Jordan Williams 8, Hugo Levy 3, Tyler Black 3, Cole McDaniel 2, TJ Williams 17, Daryl Dancy 1, Tyler Trew 6, Robert Kuklo 4. Totals: 14 14-18 44.
GOLDEN VALLEY --Rob Martinez 9, Myles Hamilton 4, Richard Thomas 6, Trek Fayerweather 11, Larry Moore 2, Devonta Jackson 4, Justin Wootten 2, Garrett Hill 13. Totals: 19 10-14 51.
3-pointers: Tracy 2 (Levy 1, Black 1), Golden Valley 3 (Fayerweather 3); Total Fouls: Tracy 15, Golden Valley 19; Foul Outs: J. Williams (T); Technicals: None.
Records: Tracy 1-4, Golden Valley 3-2.
JV -- Golden Valley won.