Valdez Notches 200th Career Win as Lincoln Knocks Off Overland
DENVER—Coach Vince Valdez is cementing his legacy in the record books of Colorado high school hoops. He notched his 200th career win as head coach of Lincoln high school Monday night, outlasting a gritty Overland Trailblazers team 70-64.
“It’s a tremendous feeling (to win 200 games), but it’s a really a credit to all these young men that I have coached, from the present to the past,” said coach Valdez. “I am thankful that I can share this victory with the specials kids that I have now and the special kids that have come before them.”
Valdez credited his players with the victory, but one Lancer in particular deserved a ton of kudos Monday night. The Lancers were led by a virtuoso performance by junior power forward Gabriel Vasquez, who put up the gaudy stat line of 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
Coach Valdez elaborated on his big man’s big game.
“Huge game. I took an early timeout just to get on him and I’ll credit him with stepping up and answering the bell. He rose to the challenge, really woke up, and was able to turn it on.”
He turned it on indeed. Vazquez was all over the floor, making crucial blocks, snatching key rebounds, knocking down long three’s, and essentially carrying the Lancers on his back in the first half. He scored 19 of the first 23 Lincoln points, and already had 21 points by halftime.
The Vasquez show continued in the second half. He hit a fade away turn around hook shot that beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, putting Lincoln (8-7) up 52-50 going into the fourth quarter.
“I was feeling it tonight,” said Vazquez, who stands at 6’9’. “If I didn’t have an open shot I would just take it t the basket. I was really feeling it.”
Overland (4-11) also deserves credit for fighting hard. Led by freshmen Austin Conway’s 21 points, the Trailblazers were in the game from beginning to end. They actually led by seven after one quarter (19-12), and trailed by only two after the second (32-34) and third (50-52). Their defense was active, forcing 13 Lincoln turnovers, and they received contributions from eight different scorers.
But a late pivotal three by Lincoln’s Jonte Dotson proved to be the dagger, putting Lincoln up 66-60. Dotson finished in double figures with 11 points. Sophomore Andre Muniz contributed 13 points towards the Lincoln victory, a historic win for Coach Valdez, who is in his 14th season as head coach of Lincoln.
When asked if 300 wins was his next goal, Coach Valdez chuckled. “When I passed 100 hundred wins I wasn’t even thinking about 200. Who knows? I am very happy where I am and I don’t see myself going anywhere.”
Even though it is almost February, this was oddly the first home game for Lincoln. An animated, zany crowd was on hand, with many fans wearing strange costumes, including a gorilla, three members of the blue man group, and Super Mario….Overland will be kicking themselves after their dreadful free throw shooting performance. Overland was 5 of 14 (36%), while Lincoln was 11 of 13 (85%)…The pace of the game was very frenetic, who both teams racing up and down the court…Senior Australian transfer student Thomas Giles had a quiet, but productive game. The 7’0 Aussie had six points and seven rebounds, including two free throws that iced the game.
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