U-Prep, this week’s Astro Jump Boys Basketball Team of the Week, was perfect last week, including a 59-54 win Friday over West Valley to remain tied atop the NAL standings with the Eagles. (Photo by TJ Holmes / Shasta County Sports)
Three days after losing its leading scorer in a Northern Athletic League win over Anderson, the U-Prep Panthers went into a Friday showdown with West Valley knowing a loss would likely sink their league title aspirations. Adding to the difficulty factor, last season’s league MVP, Jordan Miller, was also out against the Eagles with an ankle injury.
But the Panthers responded with a 59-54 win over the Eagles to deadlock Dub-V at 7-1 in NAL play heading into the final week of the regular season. For their perfect week and gritty homecoming win, the U-Prep Panthers are the Astro Jump Boys Basketball Team of the Week. It’s the second time the Panthers have earned the honors.
“It was huge for us,” U-Prep coach Mark Stephens said. “We lost 28 points per game (with Stephens and Miller out) and they had beaten us twice in a row.”
Against Anderson on Tuesday, Tanner Stephens went up for a breakaway dunk only to get clipped from behind as he threw it down. He swung from the rim and went to brace his fall as he was headed for a back landing. He broke his arm in the fall as U-Prep left Anderson with a 54-38 Pyrrhic victory.
Friday, the Panthers counteracted a 22-point night from West Valley’s Sean Proscher with in-your-face defense from Kaden Jones and some big-time performances from guys like Trevor Jones, Logan Hawes, Kevin Cox and Mark Stephens, brother of Tanner and son of coach Mark Stephens.
Trevor Jones, who give the Panthers great sixth-man energy, led the team with 17 points, including big possessions down the stretch. Kaden Jones chipped in with 14 and Hawes, Cox and Stephens combined for 24.
“We had to play a different style and kids who had been in supporting roles previously stepped up,” coach Stephens said. “Trevor is a gamer. He’s continued to play great and is now a focal point in our offense.”
Astro Events boys basketball Team of the Week
Week 1 – Foothill Cougars
Week 2 – U-Prep Panthers
Week 3 – Anderson Cubs
Week 4 — Redding Christian Lions
Week 5 – West Valley Eagles
Week 6 – Shasta Wolves
Week 7 — Foothill Cougars
Week 8 – Enterprise Hornets
Week 9 — Enterprise Hornets
Week 10 — U-Prep Panthers
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