EL SEGUNDO – The South Bay Lakers played one of their best games of the season as they beat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 137-114, on Saturday night. Thomas Bryant led the way for South Bay (27-17) with 20 points, nine rebounds and a career-high nine assists while Alex Caruso tallied a double-double and Robert Heyer scored a career-high 22 points in the win. The Vipers (25-20) were led by RJ Hunter’s 29 points off the bench.
South Bay came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, as they shot 64.3 percent from the field in the first and took a 43-29 lead through one. Heyer paced the Lakers in the opening period with 11 early points. The Vipers gained momentum in the second quarter, outscoring the Lakers by 10, to lessen the halftime deficit to 66-62. Hunter had 15 points in the first half for Rio Grande Valley and Caruso had 15 points of his own for South Bay.
South Bay pulled away in the third quarter behind 12 points apiece from Bryant and Caruso, as they took a 108-91 lead through three. Heyer continued his big night in the fourth quarter with eight points to help put away the Vipers and secure the South Bay victory.
Hunter’s 29 points led all scorers, while Chinanu Onuaku (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Chris Walker (10 points, 10 rebounds) each notched double-doubles in the loss. Monte Morris scored 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists as Shane Richards (12 points) and Julien Lewis (11 points) each reached double-digit scoring for Rio Grande Valley.
Bryant’s near triple-double and Caruso’s 27-point, 10-assist double-double fueled the Lakers to the win. Heyer shot 6-7 from three-point range to reach his career high, while Andre Ingram shot 5-7 from beyond the arc as he scored 20 points of his own. Stephaun Branch scored 17 points off the bench and James Southerland also reached double figures with 12 points. Michael Holyfield grabbed 13 rebounds and V.J. Beachem scored eight points in his first game since January after dealing with a left ankle sprain that sidelined him for 13 games.
The South Bay Lakers will play again tomorrow night when they visit the Northern Arizona Suns at 5:00 from the Prescott Valley Arena. South Bay is 4-2 on the season in the second game of a back-to-back.