Sierra Vista’s Viko Noma’aea established himself as a scorer last season, averaging 26.7 points.
On Friday night, the senior guard established himself as a leader.
Noma’aea controlled the game with his ballhandling and penetration in the second half as the Mountain Lions (16-3, 6-2 Southwest League) rallied from an early deficit in an 80-63 home victory over Durango (9-7, 4-3).
“My senior leader, Viko, he came out in the second half and just took over,” Sierra Vista coach Kent Johnson said. “Driving the lane, making the shot, dropping the dime — he did what a leader does. He ran the show.
“That’s a college player right there.”
Noma’aea had 12 points and four assists in the second half.
More important, he didn’t force any bad shots. Noma’aea was just 3-for-11 from the field in the first half. But in the second half, he made 3 of 4 field goals and instead of forcing something, looked for a teammate or drew contact to go to the free-throw line.
Noma’aea finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals for Sierra Vista.
The Mountain Lions also renewed their defensive focus in the second half. They scored 12 points off seven turnovers in the third quarter and limited Durango to 1-for-5 shooting from the field as they extended a 37-35 halftime lead to 59-43.
Maiscei Grier had eight of his 24 points in the quarter as the Mountain Lions controlled the tempo.
“We came out in the second half and changed things up defensively and were able to get into our transition and got them on their heels,” Johnson said.
Sierra Vista played more man-to-man in the second half to try to limit Greg Gentry’s penetration opportunities.
Gentry had nine points and four assists in the first half. He finished with 16 points and five assists.
The Trailblazers took advantage with their post players early, as 6-foot-9-inch Joel Feigler and 6-3 Cameron Stemley combined to score Durango’s first 14 points.
The duo also had 13 rebounds in the first quarter as the Trailblazers took a 21-15 lead.
After being outrebounded 28-14 in the first half, the Mountain Lions had a 13-9 edge on the glass after halftime and scored 11 second-chance points.
Sierra Vista’s Donovan Williams scored 13 points and Justice Odabi 11.
Stemley had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Feigler had 16 points and eight rebounds.