Djuric propels Patriots to win home finale
STEPHENS CITY – Marko Djuric made the most of his final home game with Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy on Friday.
The 6-foot-5 senior had a big night to lead the Patriots to an 80-60 boys basketball victory over Calvary Temple.
“It felt really good,” Djuric said. “The guys gave me the ball, and I passed it to them too.”
Djuric had 20 points and 23 rebounds, dominating on both offense and defense.
The Patriots (27-7) were a little sluggish to start the game. The two teams went back and forth in the first period. SVCA used a 9-0 run to build a 13-6 lead. SVCA sophomore Michael Truong had four points during the run.
The Patriots were able to push the lead to 17-11, but a conventional three-point play by Calvary’s Alex Ashley cut the lead to three after the first period.
SVCA coach Philip Combs said that the team was playing without 6-foot-5 junior center Eldar Hotic due to an ankle injury and that hurt the team offensively early on.
“We were a little out of sync offensively, because we don’t have our only big,” Combs said.
Djuric said that without Hotic in the lineup, he felt he had to do a little more.
In the second period the Patriots scored 26 points. They led by six late in the half, before closing with a 12-5 run for a 43-30 halftime lead.
Djuric, Milos Vasilic and Truong each had six points during the second period.
“Our intensity both offensive and defensive – we just stepped it up,” Truong said of what changed in the second period.
Combs said that he talked with the team at the half about playing better defense and he was happy with that in the second half.
Djuric hit a 3-pointer to start the third period for a 46-30 lead and the Patriots led by at least 14 points the rest of the way.
“(Calvary Temple) played hard, got to give credit to their kids,” Combs said. “There in the first half they kept it close. I thought our defense was a little lackluster in the first half.”
Combs said he was very pleased with how Djuric played in his final home game.
“He was real aggressive tonight,” Combs said. “I’m glad our kids understood it was his night. Sometimes you can get a little frustrated with that situation, but they understood. He really took over.”
Djuric is the lone senior on a young SVCA squad that has enjoyed a lot of success this season.
He is the only senior in the starting lineup.
“We’re young and that’s good,” Combs said. “I think as we grow in maturity in age, we’re going to mature as basketball players too.”
Ashley led the Conquerors with 22 points. Josh Perozich had 11 points, and Luke Daughtry had 10.
Vasilic had 19 points and seven rebounds. Michael Truong had 14 points, and his twin brother, Eric, had 13 for the Patriots.
SVCA will play next week in the National Association of Christian Athletics basketball tournament in Dayton, Tennessee.
The players are optimistic about their chances.
“We’ve had a really good season, and now we have to prepare for nationals,” Djuric said. “We’re going there to win. We’ll see what happens.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org