LANCASTER — They played with more urgency. They got after the ball more. They outrebounded their opponent. They just wanted it more.
And the end result was a victory.
The Desert Christian boys basketball team used tough pressure defense and several easy fast-break points to build a big lead against visiting Antelope Valley and cruised to a 70-56 non-league victory, Thursday night in front of a hostile crowd at Desert Christian High School.
Isaiah Diaz led the way with 21 points for the Knights, 11 of those coming in the second quarter in which Desert Christian began to take control of the game. The Knights had four players score in double figures.
A rebound and putback by Diaz, which was followed by a layup by Cameron Morgan and then a 3-pointer in the corner by Diaz, helped Desert Christian (3-2) grab a 35-18 lead. The Knights extended their lead just before halftime with a step back 3-pointer by Luke Dumas, which ignited the crowd and helped Desert Christian lead 42-21 at halftime.
“The guys played really well. We’ve been working on our defense. I’m proud of the guys, they all played hard. This victory hopefully tells us that we’re headed in the right direction,” Knights head coach David Nurse said. “I challenged them to play smarter and they did that tonight. I keep telling them to take what the defense gives them. If we can keep this intensity and play defense like we did tonight we’re going to be in a lot of games.”
The third quarter didn’t get much better for AV High (1-5) as J.C. Stevenson opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to give Desert Christian a 45-21 lead. Later in the quarter the Knights’ Frank Flores scored seven consecutive points alone including a conventional 3-point play to inflate the lead to 61-29 with 1:07 remaining in the quarter. Desert Christian outscored the ’Lopes 22-12 in the quarter.
“We played really well as a team. All the hard work in practice is starting to pay off. It feels good for a win like this. We all came together. It took us the first couple of games to get in the swing of things,” Diaz said. “We picked up our intensity. This definitely gives us a confidence boost, but we can’t underestimate anyone; we have to continue to work hard in practice.”
AV High tried to make things interesting in the fourth quarter as it went on a 13-0 run to begin the final frame, however, the ’Lopes dug themselves a 30-point hole and it was too late to climb out. Terrance Brazil scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to help fuel the attempted comeback. Brazil led the ’Lopes with 15 points.
“We played much better in the second half than we did in the first. We have to analyze ourselves and maybe we have to make a few changes,” AV High head coach Ed Campbell said. “Give Desert Christian credit. They hustled for 32 minutes. They are a well-coached team and they had a game plan and stuck to it and defended their home court.”
The game was close in the first quarter as both teams traded baskets early. The Knights began to distance themselves and led 16-12. Desert Christian closed the quarter with a 6-0 run and led 22-12 after one.
“We realized that we needed to play more as a team in the fourth quarter and not argue so much with each other. This is very disappointing because we’re a way better team than what we played out there tonight,” said AV High’s Richard Hudson, who finished with 10 points. “We have to have that same fourth-quarter mentality and play like that in every quarter. We didn’t play great defense like we should have.
Morgan finished with 16 points, 10 coming in the first quarter for Desert Christian. Stevenson and Flores added 14 and 13 points respectively.
Golden League play resumes today for AV High when it travels to face Highland. The Knights will host Trona on Tuesday.