When you are the defending Class 4A state champion and the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason, only then can a 24-point victory not seem satisfying.
That was how Spring Valley coach Anne Long felt after the Vikings dispatched Dorman 62-38 in the Viking Invitational Tuesday night. But she did understand it was the season opener and they are the hunted now, not the hunter.
"First of all, it's an adjustment and teams are going to play better and harder against us now," Long said. "I think with it being the first game, we still are adjusting to game speed. Dorman gave us all the defense we could handle but I like the way we responded in the second half."
Spring Valley (1-0) has all five starters back from that title team but preseason Elite 5 player Asia Dozier did not play and is expected to miss a few weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on her knee. Long felt the other four starters would pick up the slack and they finally did after a sloppy first half.
Three of those starters - Xylina McDaniel, Shaquita Walker and Jocelyn Lawrence -were saddled with foul trouble. The Vikings were able to keep the Cavaliers at bay because of the effort from junior guard Brianna Robinson and sophomore forward Juliette Love.
The two combined for 16 points in the first half with Robinson scoring 10 of her game-high 22 points to give the Vikings a 27-18 lead at the break. Robinson added five steals for Spring Valley, which forced the eighth-ranked Cavaliers into 40 turnovers.
"Brianna knew what we needed to do and took it on her shoulders to get us there," Long said. "It was a tremendous effort on her part and then Love came in and gave us solid minutes when the starters were out with foul trouble."
Dorman (0-1), which lost to the Vikings 60-57 in last year's Upper State final but lost four starters to graduation, got within seven in the middle of the third quarter when Spring Valley responded with an 15-3 run to take command 47-30. The lead was never less than 13 after that.
"We adjusted a little better in the second half," Long said. "We were better defensively and that is what turned it around for us."
But Long was not totally happy. Spring Valley had 23 turnovers and didn't display the composure she thought they should, partially because of the absence of Dozier.
"This was a good experience for us playing without Asia," Long said. "She is such a stabilizing force out there and playing without her was an adjustment for everyone so, hopefully, she will be back soon."
McDaniel had two points in the first half but the Elite 5 sophomore finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Walker also had two at the half but finished with nine. The Vikings will play Goose Creek for the tournament championship today at 6 p.m.
Dorman was led by Mikala Scott with 14 points.
D - Mikala Scott 14, Mitchell 6, Bolton 5, Olley 4, Cooper 4, Harrison 3, Bernardi 2. SV - Briana Robinson 22, Xylina McDaniel 12, Walker 9, Bryan 8, Love 6, Lawrence 5. Rec: SV 1-0; D 0-1.