Rincon Valley Christian staked a claim as the top team in the North Central League II with an overwhelming 67-30 win over second place St. Vincent at DeCarli Gym Tuesday night.
After Alex Neve banked in the first basket of the night for the Mustangs, giving them a brief 2-0 advantage, it was all Rincon Valley as the Eagles dominated the game on both ends of the court. The Eagles rattled off 18 unanswered points in the first period, and eventually soared to a stunning 34-16 advantage at halftime.
Leading the way for Rincon Valley Christian was senior guard Cavin Hawkins, who found good opportunities around the baseline, and canned four shots from behind the arc to finish with 13 points at intermission. Garrett Robert chipped in with 11 points in the early going with four-of-six shooting from from the floor.
A sticky man-to-man defense by the visiting Eagles choked down any chance for St. Vincent to get into offensive rhythm as the quickly played game progressed. Most of the driving lanes to the basket were closed dow,n and every Mustang shot was taken under extreme pressure.
The frustrated Mustangs got only one look each time down the floor as Rincon Valley dominated the boards in the first half with a 19-7 advantage led by center Zaccheus Dance, who pulled down seven rebounds.
St. Vincent finally got into an offensive flow in the second quarter when guard Evan Knight threaded a couple of shots from distance and Mitch Sheppard added four points. It was the most competitive period of the contest, with Rincon Valley holding a slim 16-14 advantage.
Hawkins continued to find the range in the second half with 11 points in the third period. Most of his shots were good opportunities off of penetrating drives toward the basket and dish-off passes by his teammates.
Hawkins finished with a career high 24 points, but spent the final quarter on the bench watching the reserves finish the game with a running clock.
After a quiet third quarter, Robert returned briefly to score seven points early in the fourth stanza to finish with 18 for the night. Dance had a solid night with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles, as they improved to 15-3 and a perfect 7-0 in the NCL II. All of the league victories by the high-flying Eagles have been in double digits. The last loss by Rincon Valley Christian was at the hands of University Prep of Oakland.
The loss for St. Vincent snaps a six-game winning streak, and the Mustangs fall to 5-1 in league play and 8-9 overall.
Knight had all of his 12 points from behind the arc. Everything was well earned, and many of his shots were pressured by very close guarding by Rincon Valley Christian defenders.
Sheppard and Neve added six points each for the Mustangs as they substituted in bunches in an attempt to find some kind of offensive rhythm.
St. Vincent did get a strong individual defensive effort by junior guard Derek Murphy, who forced penetrating Eagles beyond their comfort zone.
The Mustangs will complete first round play in the NCL II when they travel to Calistoga Friday.