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Olsen, Villa Park make it seven in a row
ORANGE — Villa Park lost its first three games of the season before moving sophomore Kevin Olsen to point guard, at which point the Spartans proceeded to win their next six games.
Make that seven.
Olsen’s layup with less than 20 seconds remaining in overtime gave Villa Park a 62-60 victory against El Modena in the Century League opener on Tuesday night at El Modena High.
“Isn’t that amazing?” Villa Park coach Kevin Reynolds said. “This is how bad we are as coaches."
It was all smiles, and a few deep breaths, for Villa Park after rallying from 18 points down. Olsen broke a 57-all tie late in overtime with a 3-pointer. El Modena guard Aaron Case’s 3-pointer tied it moments later. After Olsen’s layup, Vanguards sophomore guard Legend Demps’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out.
Villa Park trailed by five points in the final minute of regulation when junior guard Luke Selway made a short jumper. Olsen stole the inbound pass and passed to sophomore guard Jason Askins, whose third 3-pointer of the game tied the score with nine seconds left.
“It’s the mental toughness of our group, coming together and not giving up,” Reynolds said. “They (El Modena) shot the ball really well. They played really well.”
Villa Park (7-3, 1-0) scored the first seven points of the contest, only to see El Modena (6-6, 0-1) take over with a 36-11 run that extended through much of the second quarter.
Vanguards guard London Mitchell scored eight points in the first quarter, but he suffered a high ankle sprain in the second quarter and did not return. He is expected to miss at least two weeks.
The Spartans closed the gap before halftime with a 10-0 run. They allowed just 24 points over the game’s final 22 minutes.
“Our game plan was to speed up the game and attack them,” El Modena coach Jeffrey Berokoff said. “It was working. When (Mitchell) came out, we struggled to play up and down in transition.”
Selway finished with a game-high 18 points. Center Lamont Tyler had 12 points and approached double figures in blocks.
Case and Demps each had 10 points for El Modena, which narrowly missed out on the upset but might have built some confidence nonetheless.
The Vanguards won just two league games last season and none in each of the two seasons prior.
“It was our game to lose or win,” Berokoff said. “This program, we’re still building it but the kids really believe. That’s all we can ask from them.”
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