A spirited rivalry moved indoors with a flourish on a rainy Friday night at Quartz Hill High, where the host Rebels flew past cross-town rival Antelope Valley, 70-64, in a Golden League opener.
Or, more precisely, Quartz Hill guard Chris Young flew past Antelope Valley.
Not that Young single-handedly defeated Antelope Valley before a packed house of about 1,500. It’s just that he provided the finishing touches for the Rebels.
Young stole the ball from Antelope Valley standout Brock Chase with 15 seconds left, scurried down the floor, then threw down a two-handed reverse dunk to finish the game. Not bad for a senior who stands no taller than six feet.
In a league expected to be as tight as a clam with lockjaw and as exciting as, well, a two-handed reverse dunk, Quartz Hill (12-3) and Antelope Valley (6-10) might have set the tone for the league season.
“I think it’s going to be that way for the whole Golden League,” Antelope Valley Coach Skip Adams said. “Fans are going to go away saying, ‘Wow. That was a heckuva game.’ ”
With duels like the one waged between Young and Chase on Friday, that’s a safe bet. Chase scored a game-high 30 points, including 14 in a row at one point to help the Antelopes cut a 14-point, second-quarter deficit to one point in the third quarter.
Young, meanwhile, scored 26 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to lead Quartz Hill. Teammate Danny Prince scored 20, including a big follow of a Young miss to extend a 66-64 lead to four points with 32 seconds remaining. That set the stage for Young’s midair pyrotechnics to punctuate matters.
“I have mixed emotions about all that,” Quartz Hill Coach Don Moore grumped good-naturedly about Young’s dunk. “He missed one in the second quarter and let me tell you, he heard about that from me. Ah, hell, I’m envious of the kid.”
Antelope Valley played well, especially for a team that struggled through much of December. But the Antelopes hurt themselves at the free-throw line, making just 14 of 26 attempts.
“The team that won this game is the team that made its free throws,” Adams said. “Generally speaking, we have shot poorly from the line all season.”
But on this night, poor free-throw shooting (Quartz Hill was only 13 of 23) was lost in the shuffle of a game played above the rim for much of the night and finished with such a flurry.
“I knew (Chase) was going to get the ball,” Young said. “I just waited for the pass and stole the ball.”
And his midair thoughts?
“None,” he said. “When I got up, I just turned.”
With him, the league turned into a new year and Quartz Hill turned down a rival.
“Any time it’s Palmdale or Antelope Valley, it’s gonna be tight,” Moore said. “It’s been that way for years.”