Of the many ways Tuesday night’s boys basketball game between Del Norte and Valley might have ended, this option didn’t seem to be on the menu.
At least not when the fourth quarter started.
The visiting Knights had 38 points through three quarters in a tight, seesaw District 6-4A road battle with the Vikings, but Del Norte went off for 25 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and the Knights left the North Valley with a surprisingly comfortable 67-53 battle-for-first-place victory over the Vikings.
“We came down, we knew it would be a tough game, and we’ve been talking about it all week, even all season,” said Del Norte junior guard Judah Casaus, who scored half of his team-best 20 points in the fourth quarter. “We executed everything, and we played well today.”
Del Norte (9-9, 3-0 in 6-4A) outscored Valley 29-12 in the decisive fourth quarter.
“Once we got going, it was a flood,” Knights coach Jeron McIntosh said.
The Vikings (9-8, 1-1) were at least partially responsible for their own demise. They led by seven, 39-32, midway through the third quarter, and were still nursing a modest 41-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Casaus dropped in a pair of mid-range jumpers for a 42-41 lead, and also scored off the glass moments later to give the Knights their final lead at 44-43 a minute into the quarter.
It was then that things spiraled out of control for Valley.
Coach EZ Panas got hit with a technical, and 10 seconds later, one of his players, Kevin Griner, also drew a technical.
This led to five straight points for Del Norte, and Casaus, with a layup off a a turnover, put the Knights in front 51-43.
And it got even worse from there for Valley.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Del Norte’s Shane Douma-Sanchez — who had been held brilliantly in check nearly the entire game by Valley’s Isaac Tapia — staked the Knights to a 59-45 lead at the 3:46 mark. He also hit a 15-foot pull-up jumper with 3:12 to go for a 63-45 lead.
Del Norte scored 25 of the first 29 points in the fourth quarter. And there was no Valley crowd to help the Vikings on this night.
It was the second straight season, McIntosh said, Del Norte played at Valley with no crowd.
“Since there were no fans,” Casaus said, “we kind of capitalized on that.”
DEL NORTE 67, VALLEY 53
DEL NORTE (9-9, 3-0 in 6-4A): Judah Casaus 20, Josh Tellez 6, Angelo Noce 9, Harrison Frank 8, Elijah Tarin 6, Roman Hileman 2, Deion Jim 3, Shane Douma-Sanchez 13. Totals 26 13-17 67.
VALLEY (9-8, 1-1): Luciano Mondragon 4, Isaac Tapia 20, Josh Gutierrez 10, Mateo Hernandez 14, Noah Torrez 1, Alec Giron 4. Totals 14 22-24 53.
Del Norte 8 18 12 29 — 67
Valley 11 19 11 12 — 53
3-point goals: DN 2 (Douma-Sanchez 2); V 3 (Hernandez 2, Tapia). Total fouls: DN 23; V 19. Fouled out: DN, Hileman; V, Kevin Griner. Technicals: V coach Panas, Griner.