MORAGA -- Feeding off big man Marcus Lee and leading scorer Kendall Smith, the second-seeded Deer Valley High boys basketball team scored a 73-65 win over No. 1 San Leandro on Friday at Saint Mary's College to claim the first North Coast Section Division I title in program history.
The victory also avenged the Wolverines' loss to San Leandro in a nonleague game Dec. 18. It was that loss that proved to be the reason Deer Valley got the No. 2 seed in the Division I playoffs. It was also a motivating factor Friday.
"We definitely came into this game with something to prove," the UNLV-bound Smith said. "They got the No. 1 seed and we went into their house and they beat us."
Smith was everything he has been all year -- a scorer in every sense of the word. He poured in 27 points, 16 in the first half.
And while Smith did his thing, the Wolverines (24-5) fed Kentucky-bound Lee in the paint to near-perfection. The McDonald's All-American Lee scored 22 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and had nine blocks.
"This was extremely big," Lee said of the school's first section title.
With major Division I players in the 6-foot-9 Lee and lightning-quick, lights-out shooting Smith, Deer Valley was touted as the team to beat at the beginning of the year.
And since that loss to San Leandro in mid-December, the Wolverines have lost only two times as they prepare for next week's California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional playoffs.
The rapport Smith and Lee have on the court comes as no surprise on the Deer Valley side. The duo have known each other since second grade and have been playing together since third grade.
"I know what he's going to do before he does it," Lee said.
Added Smith: "We definitely feed off each other."
The Wolves struggled early as San Leandro (23-6) rode the hot hands of Dejon Burdeaux (19 points) and Kennon Noble (11 points), who combined for 13 points in the first quarter.
The Pirates had a 10-2 lead, but Deer Valley reeled off a 20-7 run to claim a 22-17 lead after one quarter. The Wolverines would lead the rest of the way.