Valley celebrates banner and dominates second half against Handley

Published 10:44 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

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It was a tale of two halves in Valley as the Rams dominated the second half to beat Handley 78-62. 

The game was all tied up at 33 after one half, but the Rams took the game over in the third period. Valley outscored the Tigers 28-14 in the third period and outscored Handley 45-29 in the second half. 

“Just a heart of a champion,” Valley coach Marshon Harper said. “Big men got in foul trouble, they had two fouls in the first half. I knew I couldn’t put them in. The bench stepped up. It was tied up at half. We came out on a run in the third quarter, and put the game away.” 

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With both Brandon Thomas and Cam Dooley in foul trouble, the Rams relied on their surrounding stars and bench players to keep the team in the game in the first half. 

Jayden Thomas hit two threes in the second period to give the Rams a boost. Thomas finished with 17 points and five rebounds. Thomas has had a good stretch of games, and he has become Valley’s most reliable shooter from behind the arc. 

“He’s been doing it in practice,” Harper said. “We go at it in practice, and he tells me ‘Coach I got you.’ One of them unsung heroes who can really shoot the ball. He’s been with this fab five since fourth grade.” 

Dooley and Thomas were out for a large stretch in the second period, but the two dominated the second half, combining for 18 points in the half. Dooley led the Rams with 19 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and one steal. Thomas finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

Jay Harper led Valley’s backcourt with 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one block. Crim-Davis followed Harper with eight points, four rebounds and two steals. 

Monday marked another momentous occasion for Valley as the school finally got to unveil their championship banner from last season. 

“It was very emotional for me,” Harper said. “I’ve been here 25 years. First state title, 33-0, I’m in the record books. I’m proud of it.” 

The Rams are now 16-1 on the season with a matchup against Lanett on Tuesday. Monday was for celebrating, but Valley is completely focused on the task at hand. 

“We’re trying to go back to back,” Harper said. “Why not us? I don’t know if we’re the favorite to win it, but we’re going to play every night like we’re not the favorite. We’re going to play defense, we’re going to get after it, and if you don’t run with us, we’re going to run up and down the court.”