Umatilla boys ready for league rival Riverside, Friday

<p>Umatilla's Eric Garcia, in white, passes the ball past a Vale defender, Saturday in Umatilla. Vale won the game, 60-41.</p>

The Umatilla boys basketball team will square off against its biggest rival, the Riverside Pirates, when they meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Umatilla. It’s the first rivalry game for first-year Umatilla head coach Derrek Lete.

“I’m really looking forward to the game against Riverside,” he said. “I know the history between the two schools has been one of passion and intensity.”

The Pirates boast a 5-9 record, but Lete said he knows anything can happen during a game such as this. He said he will try to keep his players focused on the task ahead, which is winning a conference game.

“For us, I’m trying to squash the magnitude of the rivalry,” he said. “That’s something for fans and supporters to think about. It’s a league game and a big one for us. There doesn’t need to be any added pressure on top of that.”

Lete said he hopes his team comes out ready to play against the Pirates.

“We’ll be prepared,” he said. “We’ve studied them, and we’ve seen them play. We need to get back to playing how we’ve played for a majority of the season. If we can do that we should be in great shape.”

Vale 60, Umatilla 41

The second meeting between the Umatilla Vikings boys basketball team and the Vale Vikings wasn’t as kind to Umatilla as the first was back in December. Umatilla won that one, but fell to Vale, 61-40, Saturday in Umatilla.

Umatilla has lost three games in a row and six of its last eight after starting the year with a record of 5-1.

Vikings head coach Derrek Lete said he is trying to find the positives in Saturday’s game and Umatilla’s recent slide.

“We will regroup and move forward,” he said. “When you play that poorly you almost have to try and rebuild on the fly. We’ll learn from these past few games and improve upon our mistakes.”

Vale started the game strong Saturday as it mounted a 12-4 lead after the first period. Umatilla showed signs of life, and a 5-0 run brought the Vikings within three points of the lead early on in the second quarter. Vale then went on a 23-0 run to end the half and took a 35-9 lead into the locker room to effectively end Umatilla’s chances. Lete said Vale simply out-executed his team during the run.

“Vale ran the floor better then we did,” he said. “I haven’t seen our guys run the floor that poorly all season. It looked like we were stuck in quicksand, and they just flew by us. We were out-hustled and out-worked. They killed us in all facets of the game.”

Lete said he can use the game as a teaching moment for his club.

“Here’s the proof that we aren’t where we need to be just yet,” he said. “We use this game as motivation and as a way to better understand where we need to improve.”

Junior guard Eric Garcia led Umatilla with 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Aaron Simmons and Tristan Sanguino each added seven points for the Vikings.

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