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March 18, 2013Hayes Leads Pleasant Grove To Division 1 State Championship Game
Northern Section Division 1 Championship:
Matthew Hayes scored 20 points and added 5 rebounds to lead 2nd seeded Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove to a 73-60 victory over top seeded Deer Valley of Antioch in the CIF State Northern Section Division 1 Regional Final Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
This is the Pleasant Grove's first trip to the State Finals, as the relatively new school established in 2005 has quickly turned itself into one of the premier basketball schools in the Sacramento area.
Pleasant Grove is clearly playing their best basketball at the right time as they have learned and improved from their 3 losses to rival Sheldon, including 2 weeks ago in the Sac-Joaquin Division 1 Championship.
Pleasant Grove won this game at the line and through their ability to manage runs. The Eagles shot 27-28 from the free throw line and showed exceptional poise down the stretch overcoming a number of strong Deer Valley runs.
The Eagles were led by their three seniors Hayes, Malik Thames, and Cole Nordquist, who each are 3 or 4 year varsity players. Hayes played his typical role of being the team's scorer from the guard spot, as he showed good range by hitting two 3's and he also hit an array of mid range jump shots.
Thames, the brother of current San Diego State starting point guard Xavier, showed some of his older brother's playmaking skills by controlling the tempo, excelling in transition, and getting to the rim, shown by his 17 points. He added 2 assists. Thames is undecided on his college choice but he certainly can play at the next level with his good size at 6'1 and his ability to be a playmaker.
Nordquist struggled from the field, 3-14, but he maintained his aggressiveness by getting to the free throw line, converting 10 of 10 en route to 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The unsung star for Pleasant Grove and one of the reasons they will continue to be a good basketball program is 6'7 sophomore Marquese Chriss. Chriss battled a cut eye and played really well against Deer Valley's 5-star Kentucky bound forward Marcus Lee. He showed good poise as he battled adversity and showed a good skill level, as he finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Deer Valley was led by senior point guard Kendall Smith, who will sign with UNLV in the upcoming NCAA spring signing period. Smith battled an ankle injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the Wolverines semifinal victory on Tuesday night. Smith later admitted he was "65-70%."
Smith still looked good, as he gutted out a tough performance by his standards. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Smith's ability to score from his point guard position is a reason why he has a chance to earn early playing time next season for the Rebels. He has a quick release on his jump shot and range to the NBA 3-point line. He also is quick off the dribble. His ability to defend and pick up full court is an added asset he brings to the table for Dave Rice's Rebels.
Lee, who was selected to the prestigious McDonald's All-American game later this month and the Jordan Brand Classic in April, did not have a game to remember, as he battled foul trouble all game, finishing with 10 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Lee's ability to cover ground, rebound and block shots are three of his skills that will instantly translate at the next level. He will become more comfortable in the post, as he adds weight and strength to his long and lanky frame. Lee became hesitant on the offensive end as a result of foul trouble and simply not getting the ball. Marcus certainly has the talent to become a star at Kentucky. It might take more than 1 year but this 5-star certainly has NBA level skills, a good motor, and the frame to be developed in a college weight and strength program.
Deer Valley jumped out to an early 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter behind two 3s by Mario Goins. Lee also suffered his second foul at the 2:43 mark, which changed his level of aggressiveness. Nordquist had 4 points to keep pace for Pleasant Grove.
Pleasant Grove began to play their game in the second quarter, as they jumped out to a 9-point lead at the half, 36-27. Hayes had 7 points in the quarter for the Eagles as they began to force turnovers. Lee had the highlight of the quarter as Smith drove and threw a perfect alley-oop in transition and Lee jammed it home, which has become a staple of the duo's game as shown in many of their YouTube highlights.
Deer Valley cut the deficit to one heading into the fourth and final quarter, 48-47, as they had a strong quarter. The Wolverines had a 9-0 run midway through the quarter as Smith began to do what he does best, score. He scored 7 points including a jumper past the Kings's NBA three-point line. Smith seemingly gained confidence, as it was not noticeable to the eye that he was laboring on his ankle. Thames led the Eagles with 6 points in the quarter.
Deer Valley made it close two times in the fourth quarter as they cut it to 52-51. Then Pleasant Grove answered and ran off 7 straight points but Deer Valley closed to within 61-58 with around 3 minutes left. However, Pleasant Grove scored 5 of the next 7 points and put the game away at the free throw line as they coasted to a 73-60 victory over Deer Valley in the Division 1 Regional Final.
Pleasant Grove is now 27-6 and will face a team that resembles them in terms of overall talent and playing style in Santa Monica, led by Cal bound guard Jordan Mathews, who hit a game winning three-pointer in the Southern Section Regional final. The championship game will be on Friday night at 8:00 on this same floor at Sleep Train Arena.
Deer Valley is now 26-6 and this concludes the 4-year varsity career of Lee who will head to Kentucky and the 3 year varsity career of Smith who will head to UNLV.
Score by Quarters:
Pleasant Grove---13-23-12-25 = 73
Deer Valley--------14-13-20-13 = 60
Pleasant Grove (73): Matthews Hayes 20, Malik Thames 17, Cole Nordquist 16, Marquese Chriss 10, Matthew Smrekar 6, James Watson 2, Thomas Fitzgerald 2.
Three Pointers: Hayes 2
Deer Valley (60): Kendall Smith 17, Marcus Lee 10, Nzuzi Webster 10, Mario Goins 9, Jeff Brown 7, Kenny Robinson 4, Nsimba Webster 3.
Three Pointers: Goins 3, Smith 2, Nz Webster 2, Ns Webster 1.