Defense set the tone for the Phoenix Sunnyslope boys on Monday (Jan. 20), and the Vikings rolled to a 74-40 victory over Laveen Cesar Chavez in another installment of the MLK Classic at Grand Canyon University.
Cesar Chavez was in an 8-0 hole practically before it even realized what was going on. Sunnyslope kept intercepting passes or knocking the ball away, leading to easy buckets. Cesar Chavez did not score until the 4:27 mark of the first quarter, when Pablo Rivas followed up his own miss.
Rivas went on to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but didn’t get a whole lot of help. Part of that was due to the fact that several players, including Rivas, had been trying to fight off a touch of the flu.
Sunnyslope kept rocking and rolling to earn its 18th win in 20 games. Cesar Chavez fell to 13-6.
Leading the way for the Vikings were junior forward Sammy Barnes-Thompkins and senior post Michael Humphrey.
Barnes-Thompkins had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He also had three steals, all in the first half.
The 6-foot-9 Humphrey, who is headed to Stanford, scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
And senior guard Navareio Holmes played a significant role, knocking the ball away on defense to start fast breaks.
“I call him the ignition key,’’ said Sunnyslope coach Ray Portela.
Of his team’s overall effort, Portela said, “We set the tone with our defense from the get-go. If the other team wants to keep playing, they have to try to keep up. The defense gets us going and allows us to attack the basket.
“We are starting to play a lot better now and that’s what you want (as the state tournament gets closer).’’
The game was played with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Sunnyslope shot 62.5 percent from the field. Cesar Chavez, meanwhile, shot only 28.6 percent and converted just 10 of 17 free-throw attempts.