The Amador Valley High boys basketball team ventured to Livermore on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the host Cowboys, the Dons brought their tenacious defense with them in a 54-43 victory to open the East Bay Athletic League season.
Amador Valley (10-3) broke open a close game, outscoring cold-shooting Livermore (10-3) 11-4 in the third quarter.
A trio of seniors led the balanced Dons, as Brad Carbine had a game-high 18 points, Mat Macapagal added 13, and Josh Slaton had 11.
Amador Valley coach Ralph Fields called Carbine's effort a breakout game, among a slew of solid performances overall against a Livermore team that won 10 of 12 nonleague games. The Dons limited Cowboys standout Chad Wilkinson to 10 points, five below his average. He had two points in the second half.
"Defense, defense," Fields said. "You've got to be able to play defense to win a championship, and our kids are really absorbing that. They're really into that."
Livermore surged in the fourth quarter, twice cutting the deficit to seven points. Wilkinson's steal and layup cut it to 48-41 with 1:45 left after Macapagal's runner with 3:14 left had upped the margin to nine. But the Dons salted the game away from the free throw line.
After Livermore's James Dayton scored on a putback to start the second half, the Cowboys did not score again until 11 seconds remained in the quarter, on two free throws by Louie Hernandez. Slaton answered with a putback
The Dons went on a 7-2 surge late in the physical first half to take a 30-25 advantage at the intermission. Carbine had five points during the surge, including a 3-pointer off the glass. The Dons' Scott Rasnick's putback, on the team's third attempt during the sequence, broke a 23-23 tie. Then Carbine's putback upped the margin to four.
Wilkinson kept the Cowboys close with six of his eight first-half points in the second quarter.
Fields is enjoying this bunch because of its balance of sophomores and seniors.
"It's a new thing for us because we have so many sophomores on varsity," Fields said. "But our seniors really anchored us, the pressure they put on the other team, the solid play. I think there's a real unselfishness between them. Sometimes we have to tell them to be a little more selfish."
California 45, Monte Vista 41: The visiting Grizzlies (4-5) outscored Monte Vista 17-9 in the fourth quarter to upset the Mustangs in this EBAL opener.
Shane Haley scored a game-high 21 points for California. Trevor John paced Monte Vista (8-3) with 16 points. The game was tied at 18 at halftime.
Berkeley 50, Freedom 44: The host Yellowjackets (5-6) outscored the Falcons 17-9 in the fourth quarter to win this nonleague game. Berkeley's Henry Cornelious scored seven of his team-high 18-points in the fourth quarter. Teammate Adrian Rico added 12 points in the game and Justyce Key had 11 points, including two free throws to seal the win with less than five seconds remaining.
Freedom's Elliot Smith led all scorers with 20 points.