Desert Vista Slips Past Villa Park

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Thursday night would mark yet another out-of-state showdown for the Desert Vista Thunder (12-3), as they would take on Villa Park (CA) (5-6) as the host team of the holiday event.  Coaching staffs from both Colorado and Arizona were both in the gym, reportedly to watch Villa Park’s 6-foot-6 junior guard Julien Franklin.  Desert Vista would come into the match-up an even 2-2 against out-of-state competition.

The game would start with Desert Vista’s 5-foot-7 junior point guard EJ Jackson - surveying and slicing up the Villa Park defense while dropping dimes for easy buckets early.  However, Villa Park would fight back, as both teams would go back and forth in the opening minutes of the first quarter.  A beautiful backdoor cut by Franklin would give Villa Park a 12-8 lead with 2 and a half minutes left in the opening quarter.  But Desert Vista would fight back in the last 2 minutes to go into the 2nd quarter up 14-12.

The run was short-lived as the Thunder would come out of the 2nd quarter, making careless mistakes and committing head-scratching turnovers.  A strong drive and lay-up by Franklin would give Villa Park back the lead with 6 minutes to go in the half.  But DV would characteristically fight back as 6-foot-2 junior guard Tyrek Chambers dropped a dime to 6-foot senior guard Alijah Gammage in transition to reclaim the lead with 3 minutes left.  They would head to the locker rooms up 23-21.

The game would move much slower to start the 2nd half with both teams playing sloppy and struggling to find any offensive rhythm.  Chambers would break a scoring drought with a tough fall-away jumper to make it 26-22 at the 5-minute mark.  However, Franklin would strike again and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team back a 2-point lead with 2:30 left on the clock in the 3rd period.  They would end the quarter up clinging to a 30-28 lead.  Desert Vista would only score a disappointing 7 points in the quarter, as most offensive possessions saw a DV player going one-on-five.

A minute into the final quarter, Chambers would get an and-1 layup to go to reclaim the lead for the Thunder.  Desert Vista would try to speed things up by coming out in a full-court press.  The offense continued to be stagnant, but the defensive activity would preserve a small lead for them for the first 3 minutes of the 4th.  With 5 minutes to go, Desert Vista would try to take the air out of the ball, utilizing the good ball-handling of their trio of guards.

Gammage would get a steal and finish in transition to give DV a 9-point cushion with 3 minutes to go.  Gammage would be the difference maker in the 4th quarter for the Thunder.  Villa Park would continue to fight, as they got back to within 3, but EJ Jackson would answer with (6) clutch free-throws inside 3 minutes to give them a 48-40 lead and seal the game.  They would go on to win 52-45 while still being without their super-athletic 6-foot-6 senior forward Wesley Harris.

Jackson would lead DV with 14 points, as Gammage would pitch in 11. Franklin would lead all scorers with 23 in a losing effort.

Notes:  Wesley Harris is reported to be nursing a groin injury, and is expected to be back when the Thunder open back up at home against Highland.

It was reported that the University of Arizona extended a full-scholarship offer to Julien Franklin after the game.  The junior guard is very long and an excellent defender with a nice touch on his jumper.  Though he did not have a dominating performance, you can see the tools he possesses that so many college coaches like.

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