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Prep boys hoops: Vikings pushed to brink

Golden Valley’s last second shot falls short as Valencia pulls out the victory

Posted: January 30, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 30, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Valencia's Riley Honaker (10) drives past Golden Valley defenders James Chevious (3) and Leon Jacobs at Golden Valley on Tuesday.

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This could easily be a story about the Valencia Vikings boys basketball team’s grittiness in escaping a second straight Foothill League game with a win.

But it’s not.

And even Golden Valley Grizzlies head coach Al Vanhook understood that there would be questions about this one.

Valencia defeated Golden Valley 67-64 Tuesday night at Golden Valley High.

But the Grizzlies (5-18 overall, 0-7 Foothill League) had a final shot to tie the score with 10 seconds left.

Vanhook inserted in senior guard Chris Benitez, who hadn’t played the entire game, following a timeout.

The ball found Benitez.

And as cruel luck would have it, he threw up a shot that fell short of the basket.

“I wanted to get as many shooters in the game as I could,” Vanhook said of why he inserted the player. “But we couldn’t get any one free (for the shot).”

Vanhook said ideally the ball would have swung to Leon Jacobs, who ignited a Grizzlies comeback with an all-around game that included highlight reel ball distribution, successful drives to the basket and rebounding.

But Valencia kept the ball away from him.

Benitez was forced to take the shot.

Vanhook said there were other reasons why his team lost — poor execution in the first quarter that landed the Grizzlies in a 20-4 hole and poor shooting from the perimeter were two.

Valencia’s Garrett Mike could have been another.

Mike scored 21 points, making five 3-pointers in the game.

While the usually steady Riley Honaker scored just one point in the game, it was Mike’s big shots that kept Valencia’s heads above water.

The Vikings (16-5, 5-2) hit nine 3-pointers in the game, mostly staying away from Golden Valley’s active big men inside.

“We realized their bigs were stronger and when we attacked the basket. They contested every shot,” Mike said on why Valencia’s offense stayed into perimeter mode for much of the game.

The entire face of the game changed at the 7:03 mark of the second quarter with the Vikings up 20-11.

Jacobs, senior guard James Chevious and sophomore guard Dominic Gully, who all didn’t start because they had missed a practice, were inserted the game.

It gave the Grizzlies some toughness and swagger.

Golden Valley outscored Valencia 24-10 in the second quarter to trail 35-30 at halftime.

The Grizzlies stuck with the lineup to start the second half and leaned on the trio for the rest of the game.

“We’ve played together since the summer. We have this chemistry,” Jacobs said of the trio. “It started to build up in the first quarter and we had a chip on our shoulder (by the time we came in).”

Golden Valley tied the score 42-42 on a Gully rebound and follow with 1:50 to play in the third.

Jacobs’ runner on the next possession gave the Grizzlies a 44-42 lead.

Valencia would take back the lead and hold a 51-46 advantage into the fourth quarter.

The Vikings led 65-62 late in the fourth, when Jacobs, who scored a team-high 19 points, drove to the basket in traffic and earned a layup.

After a wild flurry in the last minute of the game, Valencia’s Jaleel Howard connected on a runner with 15 seconds left to extend the lead to 67-64.

Chevious, who scored 11 points in the game, went into the timeout begging for the ball.

Jacobs wanted the ball, too, he said.

Valencia knew that, though.

Gully passed to Benitez, who was pressured.

And the hot hands never had their chance.

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