Emmett Duvall a force on court for red-hot Vaqueros

It didn’t take long for Emmett Duvall to draw attention. And it had nothing to do with him towering at 6 feet 6 inches, tied for second tallest player on the burgeoning Glendale Community College men’s basketball team.

Duvall brought his lunch-pail approach inside the Glendale college gymnasium during a recent two-hour practice session. He found himself near the basket in prime position to grab a few rebounds and offer encouragement to his teammates after running some plays.

“We mean business,” said Duvall, a sophomore wing. “We go out there and do whatever we can to help each other out, whether it’s during a game or in a practice.

“It’s about being composed and not letting the pressure get to you. We have a team that’s got plenty of skill and we know how to take in the moment.”

It would be difficult to argue that point since it’s been a fantastic season to date for Duvall and the Vaqueros. Glendale is 19-4, 7-2 in the Western State Conference South Division and ranked 13th in the state and seventh in Southern California by the California Community College Athletic Assn. The Vaqueros are in second place in the division, one game behind Antelope Valley entering Saturday’s division road contest against Bakersfield.

With Duvall a force on both ends of the court, he’s provided the Vaqueros with some snarl to their game with his excellent rebounding and a nose for the net to provide some offensive pop. Backed by some clutch performances from Duvall, the Vaqueros have won four games in a row and are 14-2 in their last 16 games.

“It just comes down to putting in a quality effort each game and how much you really want to win,” said Duvall, who is averaging a team-best 15.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. “You have to be aggressive on both sides of the court and being ready to be in the moment in a close game.

“I try to be relaxed, even though it seems like the adrenaline is always flowing leading up to a game and then during the game. You have to have a lot of passion for the game and I do.”

Duvall, who is averaging a team-high 5.8 defensive rebounds and 4.5 offensive rebounds per contest, answered the bell for the Vaqueros in their last game Saturday against Santa Monica. He grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 20.3 seconds remaining in regulation to propel Glendale to a 73-71 division home victory. Duvall finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

It’s the kind of effort that Duvall’s teammates have come to expect each game.

“He’s got such a huge role for the team,” said freshman guard Jason Moore, who is averaging 6.2 points per game. “He can do so much, from rebounding to scoring, and you saw that in the Santa Monica game.

“He’s the type of player who knows how to get us going. He’s got our back. He controls the ball so well on both sides of the court and he knows when we are looking to get him the ball.”

In their final tune-up before the start of division competition, Duvall and the Vaqueros enjoyed one of his finest moments of the season in the San Diego Mesa Tournament. In the tournament’s championship game Dec. 30, Duvall registered 17 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks to spark Glendale to an 84-73 victory against San Diego Mesa. Duvall, a Crenshaw High graduate, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“I think the players respect their top teammates,” said veteran Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin, who has 589 career wins, fourth most in state history, and will be enshrined into the California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Assn. Hall of Fame in March. “When he’s playing well, then we are playing well.

“You don’t find many guys around who are averaging a double-double almost every game like Emmett. The expectations were high for him coming into the season. He came right in and stepped up his game. When it’s a big situation, like the Santa Monica game, he will always come in and do his best to produce.”

The Vaqueros, who also have been able to turn to sophomore center Gor Plavchyan, sophomore wing Emerson Castaneda and freshman guard Jalen Etienne for big efforts, are seeking their first division championship since 1985 and first playoff appearance in three seasons.

Duvall, who is averaging 1.3 steals per contest, would like to be a part of a division winner and carry the Vaqueros into the postseason.

“I want to be able to carry the weight,” Duvall said. “I have to make sure we are all on the same page mentally.”

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