Thacher ballers capture first-round CIF win
By Jesse Phelps
Thacher School's boys varsity basketball
team hit the road Wednesday night, traveling to Carson for its
first round CIF playoff matchup against Masada, from Gardena,
the champions of the Freedom League.
The Toads snuck in as the third-place finisher from the Condor
League and were accounted huge underdogs. That didn't stop senior
point guard Brenton Sullivan or the rest of his teammates from
playing to win.
Despite foul trouble, win they did, 61-47.
Thacher is undefeated this season, holding their opponents to
fewer than 50 points, and that streak continued Wednesday evening.
Sullivan led the way with a game-high 22 points, including four
Senior center Chance Phelps pitched in a career-high nine points.
Graham Douds had what Thacher Coach Jason Carney called "his
usual solid game" and chipped in with 13.
"We played great defense," said Carney. "I really
preached the defense and they responded. It was a great effort."
Sullivan had five steals and sophomore Sam Felton had four. "He
did a great job playmaking," said Carney of Felton, who
also contributed a team-high six assists.
Douds, at about 6 feet even, led the way, rebounding with eight.
"He's been the leader in that department all year,"
said Carney. "It's amazing, given his height."
Douds fouled out at the start of the fourth quarter. Dylan Valdez,
his replacement, fouled out less than two minutes later, but
not before making a huge three to increase the Thacher lead to
nine points. Carney called it the shot that changed the game's
Masada came out in a 2-3 zone in the first quarter. Carney expressed
his surprise, saying, "The only other team that's zoned
us all year, we buried." The Toads, obviously happy to see
the zone, opened up an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Masada switched to man and were back to within seven by halftime.
By the end of the third, they'd closed the gap to five, 41-36.
"We had a great fourth quarter," said Carney. "We've
been in so many tight games, three nail-biters this year. Those
games really prepared us for this."
Thacher patiently ran its offense in the fourth, getting a series
of lay-ups by passing and cutting. Phelps scored six of his nine
points in that quarter, all coming on easy lay-up opportunities
off of cuts to the basket.
Carney praised the effort from all his players. "Brenton
just showed terriffic leadership. He's incredible. He and Chris
Willoughby played the whole game."
Masada was led by 6-foot-1-inch shooting guard Johnny Moore,
who had been scoring nearly 30 points per game over his last
several contests. "We held him in check," said Carney,
"Though he still hurt us." Moore finished with 19 points
and 13 boards.
Thacher faces a huge test in its next game at second-seeded Apple
Valley Christian Friday night.
Apple Valley Christian figures to be well-rested after a first-round
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