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The Title Isn't Anybody's Yet

Posted: February 2, 2008 7:00 a.m.
Updated: April 4, 2008 2:02 a.m.
 
The fourth quarter has not been a fun time for the West Ranch boys basketball team this season.

Two double-digit, late fourth-quarter leads have evaporated for the Wildcats this year, including on Tuesday in a loss to Saugus.
Friday was about finishing.
Finish they did, holding off first-place Valencia for a 57-55 win at home.
"We really wanted this one," said Malik Bradley, who scored a team-high 14 points for West Ranch. "We wanted this one more than any other."
The two teams were knotted at 43 heading into the fourth quarter and a pull-up jumper by Terrez Scott gave the Vikings (17-7, 6-2) a 50-48 lead with 3:40 left in the game.
West Ranch's David Franklin hit two crucial 3-pointers down the stretch, draining the first with 2:48 to go for a 51-50 advantage.
His second came after Morris Williams took a charge and drew an offensive foul on Scott.
With 48 seconds to go, Franklin's 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor gave the Wildcats (16-7, 4-3) a 57-53 lead, which proved to be just enough. He scored 11 points on the night.
"We've had tough games in the fourth quarter this season and we needed to close it out and do what we needed to do to win," Franklin said.
The closing out didn't exactly go smoothly.
Scott hit a pair of free throws to pull the Vikings to within a pair with 43 seconds left.
After the Wildcats missed a shot on the next trip down the floor, the Vikings came up with the ball but couldn't hold onto it.
In the scramble, West Ranch guard Beau Martin came up with the ball with 0.92 seconds left on the clock. The referees called a foul on Martin and also put 2.7 seconds back on the clock, giving Valencia time to run an inbounds play.
"I was thinking, if this happens a third time ... I don't know what I would have done," said Wildcats head coach Sean LeGaux.
On the inbounds play, the Vikings were looking for 3-point man John Otavka, but he slipped and fell. Scott took a 3-pointer and after it hit the rim, Skyler Seymour tried to tip the ball in for the tie, but it fell short.
"The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are inches apart," said Valencia co-head coach Greg Hayes.
Earlier in the quarter, Seymour had completed a 3-point play to give the Vikings a 53-51 lead. The senior finished with a game-high 16 points. It looked the momentum would turn in Valencia's favor.
The Wildcats needed an answer and that turned out to their point guard Bradley.
On the next trip down the floor, Bradley hit a shot from about 26 feet away at the top of the key to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
The senior said he had no idea how far out he was.
"I noticed he wasn't playing up on me like I thought he was, so I shot it," he said.
The Vikings played from behind for most of the third quarter, trailing 34-28 at halftime. Valencia used a 9-2 run to finish off the third frame to knot the game at 43.
The only quarter that ended in a Vikings lead was the first frame, when Valencia started on a 6-0 run and was ahead 19-16 heading into the second quarter.
Only two Vikings players finished in double figures, with Brandon Thrush chipping in 12 points in addition to Seymour's game-high. Thrush scored all of his points in the first half.
The win returned the favor for the 79-66 loss the Vikings handed the Wildcats on Jan. 15. At the time, West Ranch was in first place, just as Valencia was heading into Friday night's contest.
The Vikings now share first place with Saugus with two games to go.
"I think home court advantage matters in the Foothill League this year," Hayes said. "This league is so tough and sometimes that's the difference."


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