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Men's Basketball - Wed, Jan. 29, 2014

COSTA MESA, Calif. – For the second time in as many games, the little guy, Vanguard, picked up its sling shot and slayed a giant. This giant came in the form of long-time Golden State Athletic Conference foe No. 8 Concordia, and the sling-shot more resembled a basketball than anything else, but that's neither here nor there.

Perhaps the David in this tale is the obvious choice, a streaky athletic native kid with the quick draw, bred on the Spokane Tribe Indian Reservation, who, once zeroed in on his target, can rarely be contested or stopped.

Maybe David is the fearless lanky youngster, not scared to throw-down on anyone, at any time.

Could it be that David is the nice, quiet one, who tries to stay away from all of the chaos until pushed, where he becomes the hungriest and most aggressive killer in the arena?

Perhaps David is the one from a far-away land, who continuously sacrifices his body for the greater good and brings an unmatched, almost reckless abandon to the battlefield every time that he steps on it.

Possibly, David is one of the jokesters, so nonchalant and laid back that you would never expect them to step up and fight the giant head on unless you saw how they transformed in the spotlight.

Or maybe, David is all of the characters and many more all wrapped into one. After all, it isn't easy to slay a giant.

The following are the details, decide for yourself.

The giant, the No. 8 Concordia Eagles, came to David's house. David, otherwise known as the No. 12 Vanguard Lions, had recently moved from a spot at 23 after dislodging another beast, then-No. 13 Arizona Christian.

The opening stretch of the skirmish was tight, but Vanguard appeared composed and calm on its stage, despite the pressure of a 12-battle winning streak on its shoulders.  

Fifteen minutes into the affair, Vanguard's confidence grew and the energy in the arena, The Pit, ignited as freshman Zach Allmon (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) put down a monstrous dunk to go up 9-7 on the Eagles.

However, for the next several minutes the Lions played from behind until Vanguard junior Chris Gorman (Oceanside, Calif.) and senior Preston Wynne (Wellpinit, Wash.) nailed four unanswered from the charity stripe to give the Lions a 20-17 advantage at the 11:29 mark.

Junior Keith Mason (Carson, Calif.) capitalized with a lay-up next, and a goal-tending call against Concordia on the ensuing trip down the floor gave Gorman an automatic bucket while securing a 24-20 lead for Vanguard.

Another goal-tending call plus a foul on a DeAngelo Jones' (Cheney, Wash.) fast-break attempt two possessions later gave the Blue and Gold a 5-point edge at 27-22.

The Lions gained their largest advantage (32-25) after a Gorman free throw miss ricocheted straight into the hands of Wynne, who quickly sank a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Gorman found Wynne on a back-door cut the next possession, but Concordia traded buckets with the Lions on the following set to cut the margin to five.

The Eagles came within three points on several occasions, but Vanguard answered in the clutch every time to cement a 46-39 lead at the mid-way juncture.

The whistle sounded plenty in the first, as the physical event drew a combined 22 fouls in 20 minutes. Vanguard sank 80 percent (12-for-15) of its attempts from the free throw line, compared to Concordia which made just 58.8 percent (10-for-17) of its tries.

Gorman led all participants at the break with 12 points and 4 assists, but the attack was balanced as Wynne, Allmon and Jones notched 11, 8 and 7, respectively, for The Pride.

Concordia came unhinged early in the second while Vanguard simultaneously found its stride to build a 17-point (59-42) lead within a four-minute span. The 10-3 run featured well-rounded, inside-out team play from Mason, Jones and Gorman.

A pair of hard-fought offensive rebounds from senior Swing Chuang (Kaohsiung, Taiwan) and Wynne paid off, resulting in a 67-51 edge for the Lions with just over ten minutes remaining in the contest.

The momentum carried into the next possession as Gorman skipped the ball to Wynne, who drained another trey to give Vanguard its 70th point.

Before Concordia could respond, sophomore Myles Smith (San Pedro, Calif.) swiped the ball and took it the length of the court but just missed a contested lay-up before the hard-nosed Chuang hauled in another offensive board plus a lay-up to extend Vanguard's lead.  

Wynnesanity utterly took over next, as the Lions' light's-out guard scored five-straight while hitting his third bucket of the evening from downtown.

Concordia knocked down a 3-pointer to come within 18 at 4:43 but Wynne preferred to have it above 20 and repaid the bucket with yet another of his own on the following stanza.

The carnage continued for the remainder of the contest, but it seemed that once the giant went down, he could not muster the energy to rise again.

Wynne notched 19 second-half points in the win. He finished the evening with 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Jones and Gorman scored 17 and grabbed 5 rebounds apiece. Gorman amassed a game-best 6 assists, while Jones added 5 assists and 3 steals.

Allmon and Mason tallied 10 points each on the night.

Mason and Chuang matched Wynne's 6 carom rebounding effort as The Pride out-boarded Concordia 40-32 on the day.

Vanguard worked together to accomplish its cause, compiling 20 assists compared to the Eagles' 10.

With the 94-76 victory, the Lions improve to 18-2 on the season and 5-0 in conference games.

Concordia falls to 16-5 on the year and 3-2 in league play.

Unbeaten in the GSAC after taking down two-straight NAIA giants, Vanguard finds itself in a new position, as the one to beat. Its first test will come Saturday at 7:30 pm in the form of No. 23 Hope International (14-7).

The Lions' faithful may be rooting for a traditionally unsupported character on Saturday in The Pit.  Or perhaps the role of giant will suit Vanguard's personnel just fine.