Pleasant Valley's Brian Dayman is enough of a headache for opponents for his scoring and his rebounding abilities.
So when you throw in his passing and driving ability, it makes him close to unguardable at times.
Davenport Central found that out the hard way, especially in the first half, as the Spartans kept pace in the Mississippi Athletic Conference race with a 60-45 victory in George Marshall Gym on Tuesday night.
Pleasant Valley and North Scott are both 15-2 in the conference with Friday night's conference finale left for both teams. The Spartans improved to 18-2 overall.
It appeared that Dayman was on his way to a triple double after he put up seven points, five rebounds and six assists in the first half to help the visitors build a 32-14 lead at the break. Carter Duwa, who led PV with 26 points, scored all 12 of his first-half points off assists from Dayman.
The 6-foot-6 post player drove hard in the lane, which caused the Blue Devils' defense to collapse around him. He calmly kicked it out to Duwa who nailed three three-pointers from Dayman's passing. On the other occasion Dayman found Duwa on the perimeter it resulted in a Central foul. Duwa sank all three free throws.
Dayman's other two assists in the first half found PV's other main threat behind the arc, Hunter Snyder. Snyder cashed in both his chances for the Spartans. Dayman even hit a three-pointer of his own in the first half, one of the six the Spartans made.
Although Davenport Central used a 22-point fourth quarter to try and get back in the game, the lead was comfortable enough from the first two quarters for the Spartans to get close to a share of the MAC title.
Pleasant Valley coach Steve Hillman said he was not surprised that Dayman was the engine of PV's offense in the first half. He said Dayman is the team leader in assists. Dayman finished the contest with 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Perhaps what made the effort even more key was Pleasant Valley was missing 6-7 center Cooper Edwards, who sat out the game with a concussion. It left Dayman as the main threat in the post.
"Brian is our glue and you can clearly see that," Hillman said. "He does a really nice job of finding those guys (the shooters) and playing an inside-out game. But he's been doing that all season."
Dayman said he does not try to do anything special. Instead, he just tries to keep his head up and be aware of where the shooters are on the outside.
"I just try and find them," he said. "Kick it out to the wide open guy and when those guys get their feet set, it usually goes down."
The Spartans offense went stagnant in the beginning of the second half as PV had just two field goals in the entire third quarter as Central, like it has done most of the season, started to turn up the intensity on the defensive end. But the Blue Devils could not cash in, making just field goals of their own and also turning the ball over five times. It left PV with a 43-23 lead going into the fourth.
But a fullcourt press started to pay dividends in the last eight minutes as the Blue Devils (5-15 overall, 4-13 MAC) turned the visitors over nine times and Central chipped away with some three-point shooting of its own.
Nate Tyson, who led Central with 17 points, nailed three of his five three-pointers in the final quarter. Central got within 49-38 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left but Duwa started a parade to the free-throw line that kept the Blue Devils at bay.
Duwa, who went 15 for 16 from the foul line for the game, hit 7 of 8 in the last quarter. Hunter Snyder went 3 for 4 as well from the charity stripe down the stretch.
For the game, PV cashed in 24-of-30 opportunities at the foul line as Central went just 5 of 7. The Blue Devils were also whistled for 23 fouls compared to 11 for the Spartans.
"We knew that Central was going to come out and fight and we had to be strong with the ball," Dayman said of play in the final quarter. "But it is a good experience and we can learn from it."