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Defense wins games.

Cambria’s Coast Union Broncos proved the age-old adage true Thursday night when they swept both games of a girls/boys Coast Valley League doubleheader at Santa Maria’s Valley Christian Academy.

In the opener, the Broncos’ girls rolled to a 63-23 victory.

Then in the nightcap, Coast Union beat the VCA Lions 37-25.

“It’s hard to win a game when you score only 37 points," said Coast Union coach Gehrig Kniffen. “We were a little sloppy offensively but our defense set the tone – it really saved us tonight. Any time you can hold the other team to 25 points, you stand a good chance of winning.”

“It’s hard to win a game when you score only 25 points,” said VCA coach Christopher Maples. “We just had trouble making our shots but you’ve got to give credit to Coast Union. They always have a great defense. It is so stingy that it’s hard to score against them.”

The Broncos’ smothering defense held the Lions to two points in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Coast Union’s Zach Stephenson hit back-to-back layups and later, David Amedei sank two free throws and followed that with a steal and reverse layup at the end of the quarter to give the Broncos a 12-2 lead.

They extended their run to 10 straight points early in the second quarter to take total control of the game.

From there, VCA battled fairly evenly but the Lions were never able to get out of that early hole.

The Broncos led 16-3 when VCA’s Daniel Murillo hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 6:36 mark of the second quarter.

When the Lions’ Tim Trenkle hit two free throws at 3:34, it cut the Broncos lead to seven.

But the Broncos’ Emi Pena answered with a three for a 22-11 lead with one-minute left in the half.

Andrew Sparlin’s buzzer-beater cut the gap to 22-13 as the game went to halftime.

But the Lions refused to fold.

They cut the Broncos’ lead to six — 22-16 — when Murillo was fouled while sinking a short jumper and then hit his free throw.

When Jared Moore swished a three from the top of the key, VCA was down 24-19 with 3-minutes left in the third.

But Pena drove in for a layup and Ivan Arellano hit an easy layup off a picture perfect give-and-go from Nate Markham to put the lead back up to nine — 28-19 — at the end of the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, VCA’s Jamin Magness hit one free throw and Sparlin backed down his defender and went in for an easy layup but Pena got those points right back with a 3-pointer, off the glass, from the top of the key to restore the Bronco’s 9-point lead with 5:27 left in the game.

Amedei later stole the ball and raced down the court for a fast break layup and a 33-22 lead with 4-minutes left.

Coast Union (7-8, 3-1 Coast Valley League) hit four of six foul shots down the stretch to ice the victory.

Moore led VCA with eight points. Sparlin was the next highest scorer with four points.

Amedei led Coast Union with 10 points, Pena added nine and Markham eight.

Valley Christian (3-7, 1-2) is off until Tuesday when the Lions play at Maricopa.

Coast Union girls 63, VCA 23

In a battle for first place in the Coast Valley league between to 3-0 teams, it was all hands on deck.

The Coast Union girls’ hands were everywhere, making it tough for VCA’s girls to get off a shot.

It took a while before anyone got off a shot in the opener of Thursday's doubleheader as each team turned the ball over the first two times they had possession.

But with 6:26 left in the first quarter, the Broncos’ Ailyn Cassas stole the ball and raced down court for an unassisted fast break layup and the Broncos were off and running.

The Broncos ran out to an 18-3 lead after the first quarter and a 33-11 lead at the half.

It didn’t get any better for the Lions after the break.

Coast Union led 48-17 after three quarters.

When the Broncos’ lead stretched to 58-18, game officials called for a running clock for the final 6-minutes of the game.

“VCA is a pretty scrappy team,” said Coast Union coach Keith Stowers. “We played a 1-3-1 zone against them to try to slow them down and our girls did a pretty good job with it. Ailyn played a great game — she’s a two-time league MVP. Kaylee Ferguson and Karis Lawson scored some important points and really helped us on defense.”

“That was a tough game. Coast Union is a good team — they beat Santa Maria (54-46 on Dec. 1) earlier this year,” said VCA coach Randy Stanford. “But our two freshmen — Jenna Mason and Lindsay Mikkelson — played great. Jenna had 11 rebounds. They hit some shots that helped keep us in it early in the game. Grace Cose played well but got in some early foul trouble and that hurt us.”

Lawson led the Broncos with 17 points, Cassas added 16 and Ferguson 10,

Coast Union is now 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the CVL.

Mikkelson led the Lions with eight points, Heather Knutson scored seven, Mason had five, Cose was held to two pints and Mayley DeBernardi had one.

Valley Christian (7-3, 3-1) gets back on the court Friday with a non-league game at Ojai’s Villanova Prep and will then join the boys team Tuesday for another girls/boys Coast Valley League doubleheader at Maricopa.

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Senior Sports Reporter