For the past seven years, the Cuyama Valley High School Bears have been trying (unsuccessfully) to beat Coast Union in varsity boys basketball. In fact, since the 2010-11 Coast Valley League season — during which the teams play each other twice — the Broncos have prevailed over the Bears with a combined score of 823-421.
That losing legacy ended for the Bears on Jan. 15 at Cuyama Valley. The home team edged Coast Union 34-32, and the home crowd went wild after being shut down for so many years.
In that game, junior Forrest Johnson led Coast with 11 points; senior Riley Kennedy chipped in with eight points and sophomore David Amodei had six.
On Friday, Jan. 19 Coast Union hosted the Valley Christian Academy Lions, another CVL team hungry to beat the Broncos. The Lions have beaten the Broncos several times over the past seven years, and Friday night it looked as though the Lions might have the Broncos’ number again.
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But in an entertaining conflict that saw players on both teams battling as though it was a world championship, making errant passes, scrambling on the floor for loose balls, and struggling mightily to find the net, the Broncos pulled out a hard-fought 33-29 victory.
The Lions brought 17 players to face off against Coast’s seven. But Coast had the one player Valley Christian couldn’t contain: Riley Kennedy. As the clock was winding down, it was Kennedy’s clutch free throws — and a timely free throw by sophomore Nate Markham — that put Coast over the top.
And it was Kennedy’s 15 points, 11 rebounds and two steals that helped make the difference for the Broncos. To describe Kennedy’s play as “passionate” would be an understatement. He was on fire; he was a blur racing up and down the court, inspiring his teammates.
And even though he had three fouls in the first quarter of play, he stayed aggressive and put on a defensive clinic for the large audience (many from Valley Christian Academy).
Markham tossed in six points (including three free throws and a pair of rebounds); senior Will Stephenson added five points, grabbed four rebounds and had three key steals. Amodei had five steals and scored three points — as did Johnson.
Coming into this week, the Broncos are 3-1 in the Coast Valley League. The next home game for the Broncos is against Maricopa on Jan. 30. KTEA-FM (103.5) will broadcast the game at 6:30 p.m.; it also streams live on www.1035KTEA.com.