Van Horn guards Jaden Monday and Josh Anzaldo were in midseason form Wednesday night.
They combined for 50 points to lead the No. 3-seeded Falcons to a 67-56 victory over No. 6 Pembroke Hill in the Van Horn Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Anzaldo was on fire from long range in the first half, scoring 11 of his 23 points in the first quarter. He finished with five 3-pointers, which opened things up for the speedy Monday, who sliced through Raider defenders to score a game-high 27 points – all from the paint and the free throw line.
“Tonight was super fun,” said Monday, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, as the Falcons went to what coach Max Sollars calls a “spot offense,” which is much like a four-corner motion formation that works well with a guard like Monday. “They beat us bad last year – by like 25 points – and that left a bad taste in our mouth. We came into this game with a chip on our shoulder. This is a big win for our team and our program.
“Josh got it going from the outside, and that set me up inside. Josh was the man early.”
And the senior guard was quick to add, “All I wanted to do was open things up for Jaden inside. This was a good night. We won the first game of our tournament, we had great support from our fans and it helps us forget that loss to them last year. This one was great, just great.”
With Anzaldo showing radar accuracy from beyond the 3-point line, the Falcons (1-1) ran off to a 22-11 first-quarter lead.
A strong second period by the Raiders cut their halftime deficit to 36-27, and it was a 49-44 Falcon lead going into the exciting final period.
That’s when the wily Sollars called for his guard combo to run the spot offense.
“You can do that with guards like Jaden and Josh,” Sollars said. “Jaden is just a junior and he’s going to do nothing but get better and better.
“And Josh is a leader on this team. They were so important tonight, but this was a complete team win. Every guy out on the court contributed to the win.”
Some tempers flared late in the game, and a technical was called on a Pembroke player following a brief shoving match.
“I was so proud of our guys,” Sollars said. “They played like men tonight. They played the type of basketball we have been trying to achieve the past two years. I was as proud of them for the way they handled themselves at the end of the game as I was for the way they played four solid quarters of basketball.
“Tonight, I’m happy. I’m going home smiling.”
Cooper Starts led Pembroke Hill with 17 points.