The Sun Valley Spartans are 9-6 on the year after winning their last four games, including the championship game of the Laurie Ann Cruse Christmas Classic. The tournament, which featured eight teams from Charlotte and the surrounding areas, culminated with the Spartans’ 60-43 championship win over Central Cabarrus. The Spartans began their tournament run with a 67-43 victory over South Stanly. They followed the next night with their most dominant performance of the tournament, a 78-45 win over hosting team, Mount Pleasant.
The Spartans earned their championship win on Monday with a dominant second-half performance. Leading over Central Cabarrus 27-20 at the half, the Spartans held the Vikings scoreless for most of the third period. Sun Valley’s powerful defensive effort put the score at 42-26 for the start of the fourth. Despite a basket for basket fourth period, the Vikings were unable to recover from their third-period deficit.
Sun Valley’s ability to move the ball around to find the right shot was a deciding factor in their tournament win. Four players shot for double digits. Three of those players, Justin Morton, Michael Grovanz and Raheem Howard shot for more than 50 percent from the field. Howard, the Spartans’ senior forward, led the team in scoring and rebounds. At 70 percent from the field, Howard scored 17 points, including three made free throws. Howard pulled down four offensive rebounds and six on defense. Senior Spartan guard Teshaun Walker contributed heavily to all aspects of the Sun Valley gameplan, shooting for 10 points, and earning six assists, three rebounds and three steals.
The Spartans dive back into conference play this week, with an away matchup against Charlotte Catholic. The Cougars are 9-3 on the year, and 3-1 in conference play. They enter the matchup against the Spartans on the heels of two big wins over Chapel Hill High School, out of Douglasville, Georgia, and St. Joseph’s Catholic School, of Greenville, South Carolina.