When Paradise Valley center Alex English described his team and Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor as being “opposites,” he couldn’t have summed up the rosters or styles of play any better.
The Trojans’ size proved to be too great an advantage for SDO to overcome, as Paradise Valley won 80-69 in the teams’ 5A Division II nonregion game at Paradise Valley (10-3) Thursday night.
The Trojans’ ability to break the Eagles’ defensive pressure was an improvement, Paradise Valley coach Mark MacGowan said, over his team’s performances to this point in the season against pressure.
“We’re getting better in that area,” MacGowan said. “I’ve got some junior guards who are making strides, and I’m really proud of them. They’re making mistakes but we’re keeping our heads up and trying to get better.”
The Eagles (8-1) have no player on their roster taller than 6-foot-4, and no one in the starting lineup taller than 6-2. Their four- and sometimes five-guard lineups applied almost constant full-court pressure on defense and used 3-point shooting on offense, hitting 11 shots from behind the arc.
But ultimately, the Trojans’ size was too much of a mismatch. Paradise Valley got 69 of its 80 points from 6-11 English, 6-10 Chris Bonham and 6-5 Javon Jones.
“We wanted to go out there and relax, because we focused on the press,” Jones said of the Eagles’ disruptive defense. “We’ve got the size advantage. Coach told us to just relax and break the press.”
By hitting four 3-point shots and converting on second-chance opportunities with offensive rebounds, SDO played it close in the first quarter as Paradise Valley led 25-21. The Trojans pulled away in the second, however, with two offensive runs.
English, who finished with 31 points, scored six in a 12-point run early in the quarter. Jones, who scored 23, had six in an 11-point run that gave Paradise Valley a 50-34 halftime lead.
“Coach told us we have to stop offensive rebounds,” Bonham said. “That’s the only way we’re going to win is if they don’t get second and third chances at the basket.”