A thrilling game capped off by a buzzer beater shot would send the Monarchs to the state playoffs and face the number two seed from the northern region.
By Vicente Vitela, Sports Editor
The Valley College men’s basketball team stormed the court after an 83-81 overtime win over San Diego College that sent the team to the state tournament to face Fresno City College in the first round.
Down 74-69 with 59 seconds to go, time was not on the Monarchs’ side, but that didn’t seem to phase them. A dunk by Greg Chew Jr. brought Valley to within three, and after a three-point attempt by San Diego missed its mark, the Monarchs would rebound and take a quick timeout.
Coming out of the break, Chew Jr. attempted a layup, missed, collected his own rebound and put it back in making it a one point game with eight seconds left. Valley would immediately foul on the inbound pass, sending the Knights to the free throw line. San Diego missed the second free throw and Valley grabbed the rebound.
“Do whatever’s necessary because you guys are built for this,” said Head Coach Virgil Watson on what he told his team at halftime.
With six seconds left in the game, and not being able to advance the ball to half court, Valley was forced to do a full court press. After two quick passes, the ball would end up in the hands of Johnnie Coleman, who would charge the glass and make a layup with one second remaining on the clock, tying the game at 75.The Knights weren’t able to advance the ball, and after a hail mary shot did not go in, the game would head to overtime.
“Coleman was the option we wanted to go with, and with the defense out on the wing a lane opened up,” said Coach Watson on the last play of the half.
After almost a minute and a half of missed shots on both sides, the Monarch’s would send the Knights to the free throw line where they would cash in the two points for a 77-75 lead. A steal by the Monarchs would lead to a fastbreak layup by Ivan Chmyrenko who was also fouled on the play tying the game once again at 77. Chmyrenko would go on to make the free throw, giving Valley its first lead in the game since midway through the second half. The Knights would answer right back with a layup, and after a few minutes of back and forth scoring, the game would be tied at 81 with less than a minute to go.
“The San Diego Coach [Mitch Charlens] told me after the game that he’s never seen a team be able to be down twice in a game and comeback both times,” said Coach Watson.
Valley would have to play lockdown defense as the Knights would inbound the pass and let the clock run as low as possible and a layup attempt would miss and the Monarchs would rebound with 23 second, eliminating the need for the shot clock. As Valley would let the clock run down to take the last shot the ball was in the hands of Coleman who sent the game to overtime would have a chance to be the hero for the Monarchs once again. Coleman would drive towards the basket and after a spin move and some great ball work, would make the layup as time expired, sending the Monarch’s to the state title tournament, something they haven’t done in a long time.
“We were looking for the best shot available, and with a fake and a move, he was able to lay it in thru traffic,” said Watson of Coleman’s game winning basket.