By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
It wasn’t that hard for Baldwin Park High School boys basketball coach Marc Hart to understand why Northview is so difficult to defend in transition and on the boards. Hart and the rest of the Valle Vista League knew what the Vikings had returning in 6-foot-4 senior Brian Johnson, a hard-nosed rebounder with ball-handling skills.
But with 6-foot-4 junior Treavon Francis coming into his own, the Vikings have two versatile players that can play all five positions, and that was too much for the smaller Braves to deal with, despite their feisty attempts to stay close.
Francis punished the Braves in transition and hit two big third-quarter three-pointers to finish with a game-high 27 points to lead Northview to a 71-58 victory on Friday.
Friday’s Boys Basketball Results
Alta Loma at Glendora, 6:30 p.m.
Del Rey League
Bishop Amat at Bishop Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Bonita 63, Rowland 57
Los Altos at Diamond Bar, 6:45 p.m.
West Covina at Diamond Ranch, 6:45 p.m.
Mission Valley League
Mountain View 50, Rosemead 34
Arroyo 52, South El Monte 50
El Monte at Gabrielino, 6:30 p.m.
La Puente 55, Bassett 36
Gladstone 59, Duarte 48
Azusa at Workman, 6:30 p.m.
Sierra Vista 63, Ganesha 53
Damien 59, Ayala 55, OT
South Hills at Claremont, 6:30 p.m.
Chino Hills at Charter Oak, 6:30 p.m.
Valle Vista League
Northview 71, Baldwin Park 58
San Dimas at Wilson, 6:30 p.m.
Pomona at Nogales, 6:30 p.m.
The Inland Insider, Tom Kiss, was at Damien’s victory over Ayala, check it out …
The Vikings, ranked No. 10 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA, received 17 points from Johnson to improve to 18-3 and 6-0 to retain sole possession of first in the VVL.
Baldwin Park’s Gabino Sandoval finished with 15 points and Alexis Baron scored 14, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit, even though they trimmed the Vikings’ lead to seven with less than two minutes to play.
Every time the Braves made a run, the Vikings had an answer.
“We have a saying, ‘some teams might have a better five than us, but our nine and ten are usually better than what other teams have coming off the bench.’” Hart said. “Our whole thought process was to wear them down and get them tired, but they handled the pressure and put some of their own (pressure) on us.”
The Braves (15-5, 4-2) could have drawn even in the league race with a win, but their uptempo style actually played into the Vikings’ hands.
Hart said it was tough enough dealing with Johnson — but with Francis — the Vikings are on a whole different level.
“Treavon was a beast,” Hart said. “As a sophomore last year he started and he’s improved a lot. It showed tonight, from what we’ve seen, he’s the best player in our league.”
Vikings coach Ron Rice said the combination of Johnson and Francis even surprises him sometimes.
“They’re very interchangeable position wise,” Rice said. “A lot of games we will play them at the guard and put the smaller kids up front just to give us a different look.
“Offensively, Trevon can do a lot of things. Tonight he shot the three well and he’s difficult (to guard) when he’s penetrating. Brian’s the same way, so it’s one more big kid that somebody has to cover, and in our league there aren’t a lot of big kids.”
The Vikings led by as many as six in the first quarter, but the Braves took their only lead in the second quarter after Sandoval’s steal and basket gave the Braves a 15-12 lead.
But the Vikings answered with a 14-2 run, nine points coming from Johnson during the spurt to take a 26-17 lead that turned in a 37-24 cushion at half.
“You take away that second quarter and it’s an even game,” Hart said. “But you can’t take away quarters, that’s not how it works.”
Even though the Vikings were in control throughout, Rice wasn’t surprised the Braves kept battling back.
“I kept waiting for it to open up and it never did,” Rice said. “All of a sudden they hit a couple three’s, we turn it over and they’re back in it. But we knew that coming in, they play hard.”
After finishing 16-12 and third in the VVL last year, the Vikings are well on their way toward a league title.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Rice said. “We knew we had some kids coming back, but to be 18-3 and 6-0 is a little bit of a surprise for us.”