Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back for a look at all things high school basketball with two weeks remaining in the regular season. They hold an impromptu draft to place the eight teams projected to make the Sunrise region playoffs.
Chris Swanson was fouled hard on an aggressive drive the rim in the third quarter Friday night, being knocked to the floor and landing with a loud thud several in the gymnasium could hear.
The Valley High point guard was in clear pain underneath the basket, needing a minute to regain his strength before finishing the Vikings’ home against rival Las Vegas High. The 5-foot-9, 135-pound Swanson could have easily avoided contact the rest of the night.
That’s just not his style.
Later in the quarter, he again sought out contact when taking the ball to the basket, this time converting his shot in helping spark Valley in an 89-77 victory.
Valley trailed 72-64 with about six minutes to play, but went on a decisive 15-0 run in winning the ‘V Game’ — once each year since 2009 the Northeast Division schools play the rivalry game.
“I knew my team needed me,” Swanson said. “I had to stay in to get my team the win.”
Swanson finished with 18 points and his ability to push the ball up the court helped wear down a Las Vegas squad that simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. Valley outscored Las Vegas 34-14 in the final eight minutes.
“Sometimes I wish he could slow down a little, but only has one speed and always goes hard,” Valley coach Brian Farnsworth said. “He wasn’t going to stay down long in a big game like this.”
Senior post player Caleb Carter, who on most nights is the best player on the court, finished with 20 points for Valley. But he was far from a one-player show, especially during the decision run.
Reserve guard Anthony Chapple had a pair of 3-pointers in the scoring rally in posting 10 fourth-quarter points. Keanu Peters had seven points in the outburst, Swanson had a pair of baskets and Ryan Johnson buried a 3-pointer with 4:11 remaining to even the game at 72-all.
Peters followed with back-to-back uncontested layups after Las Vegas turnovers, giving Valley its first lead of the game.
“The kids don’t care who scores. They just want to win,” Farnsworth said. “That was a playoff atmosphere tonight. The bottom line is that will help us down the road if we are lucky enough to make a run in the playoffs.”
Valley (20-5), which is in the driver’s seat in the Northeast with a 11-1 record, made a major statement this week in the Northeast by beating Desert Pines and Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the Vikings led Desert Pines by double-digits most of the second half, and against Las Vegas they overcame a seemingly insurmountable fourth-quarter deficit.
“What makes us so good is our team chemistry,” Swanson said. “We are always with us other all day. We need to keep working together and play hard.”
Las Vegas (17-7, 9-3) started strong in scoring 28 first-quarter points, including a trio of 3-pointers from Traven Yancey in leading 28-18. Hasaan Henderson led the Wildcats with 20 points, Juwan Major added 16 points and Phil Dunigan had 15.
“It was a matter of us running out of gas a little bit (in the fourth quarter) and having some defensive break downs. That led to some easy baskets for them,” Las Vegas coach Jason Wilson said.