Van Nuys, Calif- University and Van Nuys played Thursday night like a prelude to a potential City Section playoff matchup. Too bad both teams are in different divisions.
University overcame a dry spell at the free throw line and rallied from a 10 point deficit to defeat Van Nuys 82-77 in the JFK Tournament.
Hughes scored 28 points with nine rebounds and Cheatom had 24 points and 13 rebounds and University (10-0) continued its perfect start to the season.
The perfect start nearly became unraveled after the team missed eight straight free throws in the second half.
“We just didn’t want to panic,” Hughes said. “We just continued to stick with what we have been doing night in and night out and I’m glad that we came out with the win.”
Van Nuys came out hot in the second half led by Winborn who had 34 points, five assists and four steals. Ethan Quiambao hit a three pointer, Winborn had a layup and Van Nuys ended the third quarter on a 5-0 run.
The inaudible crowd in the first half erupted after Van Nuys led 62-52 and became even louder after University started to miss its free throws. It was the type of pressure University is used to seeing against Western League opponents like Fairfax and
Van Nuys with six minutes remaining could not handle University’s full court press and committed three turnovers that led to points for Hughes and Cheatom.
Cheatom led an 11-0 spurt midway through the fourth quarter and gave University its first lead since halftime with 3:38 left in the game.
“We just tried to stay calm and patient and our defense allowed us to get easy points and we are used to this,” Cheatom said. “We just stayed calm and poised and we are ready for whatever happens.”
Van Nuys (8-9) showed there was still more growing to do while finding ways to win with Winborn, Quiambao and Matthew Sykes. Sykes had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Quiambao added 11 points.
“My team has to understand that this game is a game of runs,” Van Nuys coach Evan Porter said. “You have to be ready to finish. If you don’t finish, there are going to be a lot of hearts broken and a lot of sad situations just based on one or two possessions that make you lose games.”
University will play Gardena tomorrow at 4 p.m at Kennedy and Van Nuys will be at home to play Venice at 7 p.m. in the final day of the JFK tournament.
Written by Ethan Hanson