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Ahanmisi scores 41 points as Golden Valley holds on

Posted: February 25, 2009 1:53 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley's Maverick Ahanmisi (13) twists to put up a shot against Foothill Tuesday in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIA playoffs at Golden Valley High School. The Grizzlies advanced to the semifinals.

 
Golden Valley’s Maverick Ahanmisi was having one of the greatest games in this valley’s playoff history, but that didn’t hold back an unrelenting charge by Foothill of Santa Ana Tuesday night at Golden Valley High.

The Grizzlies needed someone else to step up.

A couple of late buckets by Steven Thornton, despite one of the worst games of his season, helped the Grizzlies hold back the charge and now Golden Valley is in the CIF-Southern Section Division IIIA semifinals.

Golden Valley defeated the visiting Knights 75-72, behind 41 points from Ahanmisi.

The Grizzlies (27-3) will play Gahr High on Friday for a trip to the Honda Center for the Division IIIA title.

Gahr defeated No. 1 seed Diamond Ranch Tuesday 63-62 in overtime.

The Grizzlies were in their own battle Tuesday, and Ahanmisi pointed to Thornton’s clutch play late as a major reason for Golden Valley’s victory.

“Stevie wasn’t having a great game, but I went up to him halfway through the fourth quarter and said, ‘Hey, I need you,’” Ahanmisi said. “‘I need you to take over.’ He took over.”

The Grizzlies led 46-27 early in the third quarter, then the Knights began to chip away.

A 12-2 run later in the quarter got Foothill (19-10) within seven at 50-43.

The Knights got as close as a point, down 61-60, and kept it tight for the rest of the game.

Thornton, who had missed all eight of his shots in the fourth quarter made two buckets in the final minute to keep Foothill from taking the lead.

He scored nine points in the game, six in the final frame.

“We figured with their style of play, it would turn defense into offense either for them or us,” said Foothill head coach Rusty Van Cleave of his team’s comeback. “But (No.)13, Maverick had a great game. We were too soft on him early. He hit some tough shots. He was just too much.”

Ahanmisi’s night was almost too much for words.

Teammates shook their heads as he began his roll in the second quarter.

Ahanmisi made 7-of-8 shots in the second quarter, including five 3-pointers for 19 points.

But it wasn’t so much how many he made, but how he made them.

He hit back-to-back threes from the top of the key.

He then made another falling away with Foothill’s Jacob Marano’s hand in his face.

Ahanmisi shrugged and held his hands out after the shot.

Then he hit an off-balance three at the buzzer with a hand in his face.

The ball kissed the glass and ripped through the net.

“After the first two fell, my teammates told me to take over,” Ahanmisi said.

He added 12 more points in the third quarter,

At one point, Ahanmisi hit nine straight shots.

“I’ve seen him do some amazing things, but that tops all of them,” said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz of his four-year starter.

To top it off, Ahanmisi had a touch of the flu.

“I can’t even describe it,” Ahanmisi said of the feeling during his tear. “It’s like, when I hit (a shot), I couldn’t hear anything. Just the crowd.”

Yet Foothill wasn’t going to let Ahanmisi’s performance stop it.

Golden Valley suffered defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown.

Myles Carrillo scored 11 of his 16 points in the third quarter to help lead the Knights back.

In the fourth quarter, Ahanmisi took just two shots, and the Grizzlies were hampered by injuries to Chris White, Khatari Price and even Ahanmisi.

At one point, Foothill scored on five consecutive possessions.

The Knights were within three at 69-66 with under a minute to play, then Thornton hit a short jumper.

Foothill was forced to foul, but each time it was Ahanmisi, who cashed in four free throws.

Trevor Wiseman scored 17 points for the Grizzlies, and Foothill was led by Jay Filley’s 18.

Now the Grizzlies, the tournament’s No. 4 seed will travel to face Gahr of Cerritos at a site to be determined.

It is Gahr’s choice where the game will be played.

Nonetheless, the Grizzlies are a step away from Anaheim.

“Can you believe that?” Printz said.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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