Last season, Rick Garrick was strictly a playmaker for the Valley College basketball team.
This season, he has become a basket maker. And a three-point basket maker at that.
Garrick, who spent most of last season dishing off to Andre Harrell, the Western State Conference player of the year, rained five three-point baskets on Oxnard in leading host Valley to a 73-62 WSC victory.
“Last year we had so much offensive talent that I accepted the role of the playmaker,” said Garrick, who led all scorers with 23 points.
Garrick, who attended several summer camps and worked hard in the off-season on his shooting touch, got ample help against Oxnard from guard Tory Stephens, who poured in 20 points, mostly from long range. Stephens had two three-point baskets and Valley made eight overall.
Stephens was the leading scorer for Valley two seasons ago but sat out last year because of personal reasons.
“We knew that’s what they were going to do and we didn’t cover it well enough. That’s why we got beat,” Oxnard Coach Remy McCarthy said.
Valley broke away from a 20-20 tie and outscored Oxnard, 17-10, in the final eight minutes of the half. The Monarchs (7-3) shot 58% from the field in the first half to just 38% for Oxnard (7-5).
But Valley came out cold to start the second half, missing its first nine shots. Oxnard tied the score, 37-37, then took the lead on a three-point basket by Don Mitchell, who led the Condors with 18 points.
That’s when Garrick stepped up.
With Oxnard leading, 42-41, Garrick banged in a three-point shot to give Valley the lead. Oxnard’s Art Santana countered with a three-point basket, but Garrick one-upped Santana with another long-range shot for a 47-45 lead.
Moments later, Garrick sank his third three-point shot in three minutes, and Stephens followed with a three-point basket to push Valley’s advantage to 55-46.
Oxnard called a timeout with 9:39 to play, but the Condors never got closer than six points the rest of the way. At one point, Valley led, 71-56.
Although Valley was effective from the perimeter, its inside game was rather paltry. Other than forward Russell Baldwin, who came off the bench to score 11 points and grab seven rebounds, no Valley player could score effectively from the low post.
“We have a real young center group, and they have had a lack of confidence in what they’re doing,” Valley Coach Jim Stephens said. “You can’t generally win scoring from the outside. You’ve got to have 30-40% of your scoring from the inside to win.”
Stephens was pleased, however, with Garrick’s showing.
“This was his best game in terms of playing with confidence,” Stephens said. “I would really like to get 40 points a game from Rick and Tory.”
He got 43 Saturday.