The Puyallup Vikings aren’t intimidated very easily.
The Vikings, who shoot 3-pointers close to 60 percent of the time while they play full-court pressure defense, bolted out to quick lead and never looked back in a 66-53 victory against the Rogers Rams on Thursday night at Rogers High School.
The Vikings (9-5 overall) jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first 89 seconds and led 25-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Puyallup sophomore Tony Gutierrez, who scored 11 points, said both teams were amped up for the showdown between schools separated by just five miles.
“There was a lot of hype, but when you get in the game, you just got to play your part,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a team. We’re a pack of wolves. Wolves don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”
The Vikings’ defense wreaked havoc all night and forced Rogers (5-8) into a bevy of turnovers.
Puyallup head coach Scott Campbell said pressuring the Rams from baseline to baseline paid off.
“We wanted to keep pressuring them on the full-court (press), and then in our half-court zone we were really focused on (Zaequan) Satterthwaite,” Campbell said. “We contested their shots and did a good job of rebounding. Those are the things we focused on at practice, and our guys did a great job of executing that in the game tonight.”
Satterthwaite scored a team-high 14 points for Rogers. Puyallup post DJ Winter was responsible for covering Satterthwaite for much of the game and finished with 12 points.
Puyallup’s Nick Gutierrez scored a game-high 15 points. Campbell said the game was closer than the final score appeared.
“Rogers always plays really hard,” he said. “That is one of the things they do, especially in a rivalry game like this. We knew it was going to really be a competition. I thought both teams competed and played very well. They made seven 3-pointers in the first half. It was just a well played game.”
Campbell thought the first 89 seconds of the game set the tone.
“I believe how you start the game is important,” he said. “It certainly can’t win or lose the game, but when you’re playing on the road in a rivalry game, it is so important.
“I was really excited to see our kids come out and hit our first couple of shots,” he added. “We took really good shots tonight and made good decisions with the basketball. We have five sophomores on varsity, and it was their first time playing in a rivalry game against Rogers. I was really proud of how they handled it.”
Sports editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.