El Cajon Valley basketball team takes home second win

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By Mary York 

Christmas came early for the El Cajon Valley Braves who played the Clairemont Chieftains on Saturday evening and scooped up a 71-56 victory and their second win of the season. 

By Mary York 

Christmas came early for the El Cajon Valley Braves who played the Clairemont Chieftains on Saturday evening and scooped up a 71-56 victory and their second win of the season. 

Coming into the game, the Braves were 1-5 for the season and still hugging the bottom of the Grossmont Valley standings. But the bustle of the holidays must be infectious because the Braves were hustling for that win. El Cajon Valley senior Hussein Al-Anezi, they have all been feeling a bit jollier about their team’s prospects this season and it made a difference.

“This is a better game for us,” he said. “I think we came out today a little bit more positive. We picked it up today and we brought it.”

Even the floor of Steele Canyon High School’s gym looked festive as red and white jerseys weaved across the court. 

Up 29-14 at the half, the Braves played cool and consistent offense for most of the game. But the Clairemont Chieftains made a 24-point surge in the third quarter, leaving the Braves’ defense harried and frayed. 

The fourth quarter was a point-by-point scramble for the Braves to regain their lead, which they did with glowing success. 

El Cajon Valley coach Scotty James said the game came down to contesting shots and limiting the Chieftains offensive rebounds. 

Clairemont is having a bit of a nightmare before Christmas. They are dead last in the Central Basketball Standings, this game putting them at a disappointing 0-6. 

James said each team has its strengths and it was an important exercise for his players to go up against a squad like Clairemonts.

“Every team is a great team,” he said. “We have got to make sure we take care of the things we can take care of and play well because every team is great. We have got to get better every day we play.” 

El Cajon Valley senior Ahmad Sulyman said this game was the first they have really played well together.

“The other games we weren’t playing as a team but today we brought it a hundred percent,” he said. “We didn’t turn the ball over as much, we rebounded a lot, we played good defense.”

Al-Anezi and Sulyman said they have been working hard as a team to condition, which they hope will pay off as the season develops.

“We’re a work in progress,” said Sulyman. “We’re working to get to how great we should be. Each game we just sort of take one game at a time.” 

Both players credit their growth as a team to their coach.

“He’s great on us individually,” said Sulyman. “He always brings us together, but individually he picks us up one by one.”

James was a picture of calmness throughout the game, responding to each victory and defeat in nearly the same cool manner.

“He’s a great coach,” said Al-Anezi. “He pushes us to the max.”

The Braves have a full schedule leading up to Christmas, with a game almost every day this week.

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