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Dee scores 37 as part of balanced Longhorns’ attack

VISTA – Johnny Dee’s ability to score for Rancho Buena Vista makes it easy to forget how good the Longhorns are as a team. On Wednesday night at home, No. 5 Rancho Buena Vista reminded No. 6 El Camino just how balanced they can be, starting strong and rolling to a 79-65 victory.

“We came into it as our biggest game of the year and we were just focused from the beginning,” said Rancho Buena Vista guard Anthony Alston.

The game started fast, and Rancho Buena Vista (20-3, 3-1 Avocado West) grabbed an early 6-2 lead in the first quarter. Longhorns forward Jordan Smith made a putback layup at the buzzer to put the hosts ahead 23-13 after a first quarter in which they played fast and physical.

“We knew these guys were hustlers, that they were going to go after everything and play tough, strong and physical,” Dee said. “We didn’t want to back down – we wanted to match their physical play and their speed.”

Trailing by double-digits at halftime, El Camino (20-4, 1-3) pushed to get back in the game midway through the third quarter. With 3:20 to play in the quarter, Wildcats guards Dayton Boddie and Chris Gorman hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions to make it a 48-43 game.

Rancho Buena Vista responded to the Wildcats’ run by closing the third quarter with an 11-3 run. Alston capped the run with a steal and layup at the buzzer.

“We didn’t want to let them get back into it because they are so explosive that if you give them a chance it’s not good,” Dee said.

Dee scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to put El Camino away. The Longhorns led by 21 points midway through the fourth quarter on their way to a 14-point win – their first against El Camino in four years.

“We just tried to play our game and not really worry about what they do, and I think we did that tonight,” Alston said.

Dee finished with 37 points and 11 rebounds to lead Rancho Buena Vista. Alston (21 points) and center Joey Vaz (13 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks) also turned in solid performances for the Longhorns.

“The bench really got us involved, the crowd was big and it was just a big team effort out there tonight,” Alston said.

Rancho Buena Vista hosts No. 2 La Costa Canyon (20-3, 4-0) on Friday in a game that will have league title implications. The Longhorns lost 71-55 to the Mavericks in their previous meeting on Jan. 18.

“We got El Camino and now we get La Costa Canyon,” Dee said. “If we beat La Costa Canyon it gives us a good chance to win league, and that’s what we want.” Boddie led El Camino with 25 points, including three three-pointers. Four of the Wildcats’ five starters finished in double figures in the loss.

Rancho Buena Vista – 79 (23-16-20-20)

Dee 37, Alston 21, Vaz 13, Morris 2, Vivier 0 (starters) Wood 4, Smith 2

El Camino – 65 (13-14-19-19)

Boddie 25, Gorman 15, Beard 13, Snow 12, Tucker 0 (starters)


El Camino center Mookie Beard battles against Rancho Buena Vista center Joey Vaz in the post

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