By John Honell, Correspondent
COVINA – Rivalry games are usually played at the end of the season with league titles and bragging rights for next season on the line.
In a matchup of last year’s Valle Vista League co-champions, the Covina boys basketball team came away with a 73-56 road victory over crosstown foe Northview (4-6, 0-1) in the league opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
That gave the Colts (7-3,1-0) a three-game winning streak over the Vikings. They swept the season series last year to help them get their first league title since 1985.
Valle Vista League play began before the Covina Christmas Tournament for the first time in recent memory.
“I wasn’t really in favor of starting league before the Christmas tourney,” Colts coach Will Bissman said. “But, if you can get a couple of wins it really does help, so it worked out.”
The Vikings had no answer for Colts senior point guard Mike Peters. He had 20 points at halftime and finished with 32 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead all scorers.
“This is a rivalry game,” Peters said. “I love playing in it. This is my senior year, I’ve beaten Northview five out of the seven games we’ve played. We want to win another title and I want to go out with another one. I was just playing basketball, and my shots were falling.”
A 12-0 run to end the first quarter broke a 7-7 tie and the Colts never looked back.
Matt Hicks put back a shot to tie the score at 7-7 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. The officials had to call a timeout because of confusion at the scorer’s table and that was it for the Vikings.
Eddie Hays and Blythe Curry hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Colts followed with layups off three quick turnovers for a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We had some really bad turnovers,” Vikings coach Ron Rice said. “We threw some cross-court passes and they picked them off.
“At times, especially in the first half, we had the wrong player shooting the ball. We’re playing a freshman and sophomore, and the other kids off the bench are young with no varsity experience.”
The Vikings picked up the pace in the second quarter, but Peters scored 16 points, including a 25-foot 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the half.
That kept the Colts’ margin at 12 as they took a 32-20 lead into the locker room at the break.
“We tried a couple of different things on him,” Rice said of Peters. “We didn’t have the answer tonight. He’s mighty good. He’ll be a challenge the next time we play them, but he’ll be a challenge for everybody in the league.”
Curry hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the third quarter, but the Vikings stormed back behind the 3-point shooting of Uly Aparicio. Aparicio was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc in the quarter. He ended up with five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points.
“You’re always in danger in a Covina-Northview game,” Bissman said. “I’ve been in so many of these where one team is up in a game by 20, then they lost it. Strange things happen in these games, so you never relax.”
The Vikings pulled within nine points twice in the second half when senior James Cunnigan got inside to score. He led the Vikings with 24 points.
“Our goal was to keep them to one shot,” Bissman said. “We didn’t do so well in the first half and they got a couple of easy putbacks.”