Simi Valley Extends Streak to 31 at Royal’s Expense
They play a little closer to the floor and a little farther from the basket, but take a peek at the top of the Marmonte League standings and the Simi Valley High Pioneers are right where they have been for the past 3 seasons.
Simi Valley, the three-time defending league champion as well as last season’s Southern Section 4-A Division champion, has ignored rumors of its demise and won its first 4 league games--the most recent a 72-50 whipping of intracity rival Royal on Wednesday night at Simi Valley.
Dating back more than 2 seasons, the Pioneers have won 31 consecutive league games and have not lost to Royal since 1985--a stretch of 8 games.
Coach Dean Bradshaw, in his first year since replacing the successful Bob Hawking and the man responsible for filling the gaps left by the likes of Don MacLean and Shawn DeLaittre, prefers to shrug off the numbers. At least most of them.
“I think it’s 31, but we’re playing that down completely,” he said after his team improved to 11-5. “We’re glad to be a part of it, but we know it’s eventually going to end.”
Bradshaw prefers to concentrate on the figures at hand. The Pioneers have won 6 consecutive games, including the 4 in league play. They also shot almost 50% (26 of 53) against Royal. The coach looks longingly at the prospect of a league title.
“Each time we win we get a little bit closer,” he said.
Steve Carnes, the Pioneers’ lone returning player, says the pressure is there, but it’s hardly overwhelming.
“We’ve got to come in and play every night,” said Carnes, who has been suffering the effects of the flu for nearly a week. “When you win 31 in a row, everyone in the league wants a piece of you.”
Including Royal, which seemed to have a chance when it trailed by only 3 at halftime and 9 going into the fourth quarter. But disaster struck for the Highlanders, who dropped to 6-10, 1-3 in league play.
Royal missed all 14 of its final-quarter field-goal attempts and was 4 of 29 in the second half. Simi Valley, meanwhile, was 12 of 29 and frustrated Royal with a full-court trapping press that forced 24 turnovers.
“We didn’t handle the press, that’s all I can say,” said Royal Coach Joe Malkinson, who brushed off the importance of ending any of the Pioneers’ streaks.
“To me,” he said, “I’ve got to win enough games to get into the playoffs. I’d trade two losses to them to get into the playoffs.”
Jeff Marciano had a game-high 19 points--13 in the first half--for Simi Valley, and teammates Kenny Hood and Mike Wawryk had 12 and 10, respectively.
On the defensive end, the Pioneers held Royal’s top scorers--J. P. Ouellette and Russell Myers--to a combined 18 points. Myers fouled out with more than 7 minutes left and Ouellette, usually a force from the outside, missed his final 7 shots.
“We have to start getting more together as a team,” Ouellette said. “We can’t afford to lose too many more of these things.
“I thought in the third quarter it would start opening up. They didn’t, and when I did shoot I was forcing them.”
Royal trailed only 34-31 at halftime primarily on the strength of 3 second-quarter 3-point field goals--2 by Ouellette and another by Matt Hicks. The 3-point goals partially made up for the Highlanders’ woeful 10-for-23 shooting from the field.
Simi Valley countered by making 14 of its 24 field-goal attempts.