East County Sports

Norsemen take top prize in Hills League

Grossmont Hills League champion Valhalla Norsemen. / Norsemen Basketball




EastCountySports.com staff report


EL CAJON – Grossmont Hills League player of the year Joe Avalos scored 32 points – including eight three-point field goals –  on Senior Night and the Norsemen held off a massive rally by West Hills in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 63-62 victory and win the league championship.

Avalos made a technical free throw with 10.8 seconds remaining for the decisive point.

The Wolf Pack had two tries at a late basket but couldn’t spring the upset.

Junior Josue Amaya, who was named to the first team all-Grossmont Hills League, added 13 points and five assists for the Norsemen.

Amaya appeared to score the decisive points when he grabbed a layup with 30 seconds left and drove the length of the floor and scored while drawing a foul. His free throw made it 62-61.

But that’s when things got interesting.

West Hills was fouled on a rebound attempt of a potential go-ahead shot but when officials replaced the original foul shooter with another player, the Wolf Pack coaching staff was incensed.

Senior Bashar Nooh finished with eight points for the champs.

Valhalla seniors Joe Avalos, Nathan Shahatit, Bashar Nooh, and Indiana Schaefer.

In a span of three seasons, Valhalla has won both the Grossmont Valley League and now the GHL banner.

Avalos, a senior, was feeling it early, hitting three treys in the opening period.

After the Wolf Pack started to storm back, Avalos was there with more threes in the fourth, hitting three more treys in the final quarter.

The star can etch his name along some of the best shooters at a school that might have the top all-time collection of triggermen that have rocked the Thunderdome.

Despite the hot start, Valhalla (16-4, 7-2 GHL) led just 20-15 after the first quarter. But the Pack managed just two field goals in the second quarter and trailed 38-19 at halftime.

West Hills outscored Valhalla, 43-23, in the second half.

Valhalla was assured at least a share of the championship but a win or Granite Hills loss would’ve given the Norsemen the outright title.

Senior Kyle Dobyns paced the Wolf Pack with 23 points.

Ashton Avestro had a strong scoring performance with 15 points for the Pack, all of which came in the second half. He had a three-pointer in the third quarter and a basket plus a foul conversion to tie the game at 47-all with 6:40 to play in the fourth quarter.

“With the guys we had out due to injury, other guys needed to step up and provide more,” Avestro said. “We wanted to take advantage of the loos we were getting because teams focus on Kyle.”

The Pack led 49-47 on a pair of free throws by Dobyns but Avalos came back down and buried a three. Then Dobyns went down and drove and scored again, the Avalos stepped back and hit an even deeper three for a 53-51 lead with 4:30 left.

The Wolf Pack led 61-56 with two minutes to go in the game but Avalos fired from downtown and scored three more to make a two-point game with a minute-and-a-half left.

Ryan Mailloux finished with 11 points, including three three-pointers for West Hills (15-10).

Max Conaway finished with 10 points for West Hills.

“We definitely executed coach (Tim) Barry’s game plan which led to our comeback,” West Hills’ Cash Creighton said.

Calvert Esho led Valhalla with 10 rebounds.

The Norsemen earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Division III playoffs and will await the winner of a play-in game between Morse and El Capitan.

There could be a semifinal matchup with Valhalla and Granite Hills, should both teams win in the first two rounds.

Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack, also in Division III and seeded 13th, will travel to face the Hoover Cardinals


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