Patriots blast Blazers in MDCC quarterfinal

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's Eric Truong splits Cumberland Valley Christian School's David Bolich, top and Grant Carter, bottom, during first quarter basketball action Tuesday night in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy’s boys basketball team dominated every aspect of Tuesday evening’s Mason-Dixon Christian Conference tournament quarterfinal game against Cumberland Valley Christian School.

Three Patriots – junior twins Michael and Eric Truong and senior Eldar Hotic, who had a double-double – finished with at least 20 points. SVCA shot nearly 70 percent in the first half and well over 50 percent for the game. The Patriots forced 21 turnovers, had 16 steals and outrebounded the visiting Blazers by 15 boards. And yet despite his team’s 100-48 victory, SVCA head coach Philip Combs, knowing his team will need to be at its sharpest as it trudges deeper into the postseason, said his biggest takeaway from the win was that the Patriots surrendered 15 points to CVCS in the first period.

“You can’t do that,” Combs said shortly after his team locked up a trip to Martinsburg, West Virginia on Friday for an MDCC semifinal matchup against Faith Christian. “I told my team at halftime we can’t come out, if we don’t get ready at the beginning of the game, we can’t give up 15 points … when we get in tournaments and stuff like that.”

Fortunately for the Patriots (26-9), they generated more than enough offense to ensure that Cumberland Valley Christian’s first-period output became a non-factor. SVCA led by 11 after the opening frame, took a 53-22 lead into halftime and held a 51-point advantage at the end of the third period.

Tuesday’s win marked the second time this season SVCA has scored 100 points after the Patriots put up 103 in a double-overtime win over Loudoun County Homeschool on Dec. 12.

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's Michael Truong is fouled by Cumberland Valley Christian School's Grant Carter as he drives to the basket during first quarter basketball action Tuesday night in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I thought we really shared the ball,” said Combs, whose team shot 58.7 percent (44-for-75) from the floor in the victory. “That really stood out. I don’t know how many assists we had but we had a lot of assists, all the way around. I thought we played really well as a team.”

The Patriots’ offensive barrage took a couple minutes to begin gaining speed, as they held a 6-5 lead just over three minutes into the game. Michael Truong then opened the floodgates, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in a 22-second span to start a string of six straight buckets for the junior, a run that include four treys.

Michael Truong, who missed his first three shots of the night, scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the first period as SVCA took a 26-15 lead into the second quarter.

“Normally I start out like that, like once I hit one I’m good,” said Michael Truong, who hit six 3-pointers and 10 of 17 shots in the win. “We haven’t played in probably like a week or something like that. Normally we play games like every other day, so just getting back into it.

“We just moved the ball well, like how we normally do. We have a good spread offense, just get the ball moving, set screens and all that.”

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's Eldar Hotic shoots a jump hook over Cumberland Valley Christian School's Nathan Statler during second quarter action Tuesday night in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

SVCA’s offense continued to roll in the second period, only this time the Patriots paired their frantic scoring pace with an opportunistic defense that forced nine turnovers in the quarter, including six steals.

Many of those turnovers turned into quick buckets on the other end for the Patriots, who outscored the Blazers 27-7 in the second quarter behind Hotic and the Truong twins, who combined for 21 points in the period. SVCA hit 23 of 33 shots in the first half.

Eric Truong finished the night with 21 points, while Hotic had 20 points and 20 rebounds as Cumberland Valley Christian had no one to match up with the 6-foot-5 senior.

“We’ve had a pretty good season, a pretty fun season. This was our last home game so we were like why not give it the best we have and just play smart,” Hotic said. “We can get pretty out of control with our aggressiveness and all that. We tried to play as smart as possible.

“I’m not really there to score a lot. I’m not surprised by the rebounds but I don’t really score a lot. I’m just here to do some small things on the team but tonight I was like why not? It’s my senior year and it’s my last home game here, so why not get my baskets.”

Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's Michael Truong, left, and his brother Eric Troung, right, double team Cumberland Valley Christian School's Jesus Pena during first quarter basketball action Tuesday night in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

Even without the Truong twins on the floor to start the second half SVCA continued to roll. The Patriots outscored the Blazers 29-9 in the third period and took an 82-31 lead into the fourth.

Beaty finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals for SVCA, while Peucker, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds to push the Patriots into triple-figures, added 10 points. Aaron Sutton had eight points and eight rebounds.

“Those two kids (Beaty and Peucker), I told them all season, we prepare for the end of the season,” Combs said. “Injuries happen, sickness happens, the kids on the bench have to be ready and can’t miss a beat, can’t miss a step. So I thought Nathanial and Justin did a good job filling those roles tonight.”

Grant Carter led Cumberland Valley Christian with 15 points. Spencer Propst had 13 points for the Blazers, while Jesus Pena chipped in 10.

SVCA’s MDCC tournament semifinal matchup against Faith Christian will be held at Martinsburg’s Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center on Friday at 8 p.m. FCA handed the Patriots their lone loss in conference play this season.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com