STOCKTON — In the age of guard-dominated, Golden State Warriors-inspired "death lineups", Delta College men's basketball is harkening back to a past era of basketball and creating matchup nightmares.
The Mustangs rode a combined 35 points and 23 rebounds from starting forwards Spencer Monteiro and Cameron Pieters to an 82-60 rout of Butte in the opening round of the 52nd annual Delta Holiday Tournament Friday at Blanchard Gym.
Pieters (6-foot-7) and Monteiro (6-6) totaled 23 points in the first half alone, powering Delta to a 16-point halftime lead.
The Mustangs (7-3) advance to face the winner of Friday's City College of San Francisco-Merced game in a 5 p.m. semifinal today.
The Stockton Christian graduate Pieters (14 points, 12 rebounds) overwhelmed the Roadrunners in the paint, especially in the first half, and Monteiro threw down four dunks en route to a team-high 21 points.
"Having two post players really takes away from the other team, because they can't guard both of them," Delta point guard Jalen Valverde said.
Said Mustangs coach Rich Ressa: "We're an unusual junior college team, where we have that luxury to have two legitimate inside guys."
A Monteiro spin and layup, two-handed dunk on a fastbreak, and then an alley-oop jam on a lob from Valverde gave Delta a 39-23 lead late in the first half. The Mustangs went on a 14-0 run overall and led 43-27 at intermission.
That was plenty to weather a second-half surge from Butte (4-10), which cut the deficit to 50-42 before fading.
"They were very skilled guys," said Roadrunners guard Eric Boose, who tallied a game-high 22 points. "I've got to give credit to Delta – they ran very good sets and they are very versatile players."
Delta eventually shook off its second-half funk, but not behind those menacing post players. No, it was time for a dose of the aforementioned Warriors, and for Elliot Christian products Valverde and Jimmy Beltz to shine in the backcourt.
Beltz buried an NBA-range 3-pointer and two stepback jumpers to extend the Mustang lead to 71-53. The freshman shooting guard scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half, and Butte was unable to answer.
"He has a shooter's mentality," Ressa said, "and I'm not surprised at any shot he makes."
Valverde (who dished out eight assists) and Beltz guided Elliot Christian to its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section championship in March 2017.
"We've got super chemistry. That's all it's about," Valverde said. "We played high school, we won championships. Here, we plan on doing the same thing."