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Slipped Away

Posted: February 23, 2008 4:54 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Valencia center Jim Baughman tries to block the shot of Arroyo Valley's James Sanders Friday in the CIF-Southern Section Dvision II-AA quarterfinals.

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SAN BERNARDINO - With 75 seconds remaining Friday night against the Arroyo Valley High boys basketball team, it was the Valencia side of the bleachers standing, smiling and belting out a chorus of nah-nah-nah-nah-nahs.

With a five-point lead in the CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA quarterfinals and with Arroyo Valley's most dominant player, Tulsa-bound man-beast Joseph Richard fouled out, it felt safe to do so.

But it wasn't.

The round of hey-hey-goodbyes when it was all over came from the opposite bleachers as, one minute and 15 seconds away from their first-ever semifinals appearance, the Vikings saw it slip away with a 9-0 run, losing 71-67 on the road.

A 3-pointer with 1:33 to play by Vikings freshman Lonnie Jackson and a free throw seconds later by Skyler Seymour after Richard's fifth foul had Valencia making semifinal plans.

Then came the Hawks rebuttal and a flurry of turnovers and missed opportunities.

Vikings senior point guard Terrez Scott had a chance to tie the game with three seconds remaining and the Vikings trailing by two points, drawing a foul and a one-and-one free-throw opportunity, but could not convert from the charity stripe.

"I was sure we had that game won," Jackson said. "After I hit that three, I thought we had it. I couldn't believe it. I don't even know what to think. I can't believe our season is over and that it ended like this."

Valencia (21-8), making only its second-ever quarterfinal appearance in school history in a season in which it captured the Foothill League championship, had trailed for the majority of the contest.

The Vikings' own comeback would have been the game's story had the Hawks not upstaged them.

Arroyo Valley hadn't given the Vikings their first lead of the second half until a 3-pointer by starting center Jim Baughman with 4:37 remaining in the fourth, putting the Vikings ahead by a 59-58 score.

But the Hawks (20-9) had the perfect answer to Valencia's swing of momentum.
After Seymour's free throw, James Sanders, who led all scorers with 26 points, answered back with a bucket to cut the deficit with one minute remaining and the Valencia offense began to implode.

Seymour, who led Valencia with 16 points, was called for a charging violation on the ensuing possession.

After Arroyo Valley point guard Deshaun Jones cut the lead to one point with 29 seconds remaining on a putback shot in the lane, Scott was whistled for a traveling violation upon catching an inbound pass.

Scott, whose clutch drive and dish to John Otavka for a game-winning 3-pointer in the second round of the playoffs put the Vikings into the quarterfinals, had a particularly tough ending Friday night after scoring 11 points earlier, committing two turnovers and a missed free throw in the final 20 seconds.

"The two things this team does no matter what happens is we play good defense at the end of the game no matter what the score is and we never give up," said Arroyo Valley head coach Scott Smith.

Offensively, it was a reserve coming up big to put the Hawks over the top.

Jones penetrated through the Vikings defense, dishing underneath the basket to Keenan Brown, a backup who plays only eight minutes per game. He then spotted Richard for the go-ahead layup.

Only 13 seconds remained.

"Give Valencia credit for building that five-point lead," Smith said. "They earned a five-point lead and they deserved it with the way they fought. But I am very proud of my guys for fighting back like that."

The Vikings responded with another turnover.

Scott, attempting to push the Vikings up the court, threw the ball away to Byron Moses.

Moses later sank a free throw to extend Arroyo Valley's lead to two, but then Scott was fouled on a non-shooting attempt, giving the Vikings sudden new-life from the charity stripe with only a few ticks of the clock remaining.

The senior couldn't convert, missing the first and taking away a shot for a second.

Moses grabbed the rebound and with two seconds left, hit two free throws to clinch it.

"The thing that impressed me on that missed free throw is that our guys could have really hung their heads after being called for that foul," Smith said. "They could have been standing there feeling sorry for themselves and then let Valencia get that rebound. But they didn't. They were ready to keep going."

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