Vikings hold off Cougars 71-61 behind Afifi and Baker

Sufyan Elkannan hits a first-half bucket against the Cougars
Sufyan Elkannan hits a first-half bucket against the Cougars
The West Valley basketball team closed out 2019 by holding off Alameda 71-61 Thursday night in Saratoga. The Vikings (8-6) were paced by 18 points apiece from Adam Afifi and Ben Baker and 11 from Sufyan Elkannan.
After Corey Brooks Jr. hit a three to give the Cougars (6-4) a 3-2 lead, West Valley never trailed again and rode a hot Afifi to a 38-24 lead at intermission. Afifi canned eight points in a 14-5 Viking run that extended their lead to 28-17 with 4:30 left. Baker joined Afifi with 10 points in the opening half.
Alameda's Markus Gilbert caught fire in the second with 12 of his team-high 17 points to rally the Cougars. Kameron Malbrough canned a bucket at 5:42 to narrow the WVC lead to 58-51, but Afifi, Baker and Ryan Hewitt then took over for the Vikings.
Hewitt hit a bucket in traffic for a 60-51 lead at 4:07. Two free throws from Dewayne Johnson and a Gilbert two made it 60-55, but a huge Afifi trey lifted WVC to a 63-55 advantage with 1:34 left. Alameda would score on three consecutive possessions, but Baker countered with four straight from the charity stripe. Hewitt hit another bucket in the paint at :50 and Afifi sealed it with a pair of free throws with :06 remaining.
The Vikings take a couple weeks off before closing out non-league action Jan. 4 at home against Cañada (2-8) at 2:00pm. Coast-South competition opens Jan. 9 as Gavilan (4-9) comes to Saratoga for a 7:00pm tilt.