East County Sports

Hoover holds off Norsemen procession

Valhalla junior Calvert Esho and Hoover senior Nicolas Fowler. / Ramon Scott




By Ramon Scott



EL CAJON – The Valhalla Norsemen almost rallied from a nine-point deficit with 30 seconds to play on Tuesday night in a San Diego CIF Division III semifinal against visiting Hoover but ended up falling to the Cardinals, 58-55, in front of a raucous Thunderdome student section just out of graduation.

Valhalla, the top seed, closed the Hoover lead to 56-55 with 7.1 seconds left by outscoring the Cards 11-2 in a 21-second span.

Valhalla junior Calvert Esho kept the Norsemen in the game, scoring 10 points in the first half and continuing to produce points in the second half in the brightest moment of his season.

The Cardinals were the ones shaking the building early with a 12-2 lead early.

Senior Joe Avalos, the Grossmont Hills League Player of the Year, hit a three-pointer just 40 seconds into the second half, then with 1:30 to play in the third quarter, drawing Valhalla to within 37-28.

Hoover led 39-30 at the end of the third quarter after leading 28-16 at halftime.

Valhalla senior Joe Avalos. / Ramon Scott

Avalos had a three-pointer with six minutes left in the game to bring the Norsemen to within 44-37.

A minute later, Avalos drove to the hoop and scored to draw the Norse to within five.

However, the Cardinals continued to make enough plays to keep enough distance between them and the desperate Valhalla squad.

Josue Amaya, a junior, had a three-pointer for Valhalla (18-5) with 20 seconds left that made it 55-50.

Avalos made three free throws with 10.1 seconds left.

After the Cardinals expanded the lead to three with a free throw, Valhalla was afforded one last try at a tie with the East County’s best shooter this season but Avalos’ last-second three bounced off the side of the rim.

Wayne Hampton III had 18 points and six assists for the Cardinals.

Fourth-seeded Hoover (15-8) advances to face seventh-seeded Sage Creek (13-11) in the Division III championship game.


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