El Cajon Valley senior Andre Nikkita, who scored a game-high 41 points, drives to the basket against Mount Miguel. Nikkita led the Braves to the Grossmont Valley League championship, the first boys basketball league title in school history.
SPRING VALLEY The El Cajon Valley boys basketball team made history Friday night.
By virtue of a 69-61 victory over host Mount Miguel, the Braves secured the Grossmont Valley League championship. It is the first league crown in boys basketball in the 57-year history of El Cajon Valley High.
“Nobody believed in us from the start,” said Braves senior Andre Nikkita, who rang up a game-high 41 points. “But our confidence continued to grow as the season progressed. And once we started league we felt we could take it to the top.”
Had El Cajon Valley stumbled against the Matadors in the regular-season finale, the team would have had to share the league title. Even a co-championship would have been a first for the Braves.
“We talked about how we didn’t want an asterisk next to our name,” El Cajon Valley coach Marty Ellis said. “We wanted to win it outright, and we were able to do that.”
After dropping a four-point decision to Monte Vista in their league opener, the Braves (19-8 overall) raced to seven straight victories. They finished two games ahead of Mount Miguel (15-12, 5-3).
The Matadors, led by Izzy Wagner’s 30 points, built a 42-30 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We could have caved in right there,” Ellis said. “But there’s no quit in these guys.”
Paced by Nikkita’s 30 points in the second half, the Braves eventually tied the contest 56-56 with 4:02 remaining. El Cajon Valley took the lead for keeps, 61-59, on a Derrick Moore putback with 2:41 left.
After that Nikkita hit three consecutive midrange jumpers to ice the victory.
“This was my best game ever,” said Moore — a 6-foot-3 senior — who dominated the boards with 16 rebounds. “Sometimes we feel like the big men on our team get overlooked, but, hey, we’re all champions and that’s what it’s about.”