By Steve Ramirez
COVINA — Northview High School opened Valle Vista League play with a win Wednesday.
But more importantly the Vikings’ boys basketball team is also 1-0 against rival Covina.
Treavon Francis scored a game high 20 points and Nick Fuentes had 14, including a key 3-pointer down the stretch and the Vikings took the early bragging rights over their neighbors with a 61-55 victory at Northview High School.
The Vikings, also getting 15 points from Brian Johnson, improved to 13-3 overall. Covina, getting 17 points from Justin Mason and 16 from Justin Diaz, slipped to 10-5.
“There always great games when we play Covina because they play so hard and it’s a cross-town rivalry,” Northview coach Ron Rice said. “We talked about (how) opening the league with them makes it that much more important to get off to a good start.”
But it was how Northview finished that made the difference on Wednesday.
Covina, after missing its first nine shots and falling behind 9-0 to start the game, battled back and twice cut the the deficit to one point late.
“We play three sophomores and two juniors most of the time,” Covina coach Will Bissman said. “Big games just seem to get us in the beginning. It takes us a while to settle down. But once we did, we played well.”
But each time Covina rallied, the Vikings countered in the fourth quarter.
Johnson, who made 10 of 12 free throws, followed a layup up by Mason with a pair for a 47-44 lead at 4:03. He then countered a 15-footer by Diaz with two more free throws to push the lead back to 49-46 with 3:23 to go.
Covina still had its chance to tie it late, but Mason missed from beyond the arch at 1:39. Fuentes, who six of his 14 in the second half, grabbed the rebound and ran down the shot clock before dropping a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 55-49 cushion with 1:07 left.
“You knew at the beginning it was one of those false leads, where one team jumps on the other a little bit,” Rice said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be that easy the rest of the ballgame.
“We had different guys come through. Danny Johnson hit some big shots, and Nick hit that big one.”
Northview then made six of six free throws down the stretch to clinch it.
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