The Wolverines seemed to be on cruise control with a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. But the Jaguars didn’t want their bus ride to Vallejo dominated by a negative vibe. Bethel rallied to force overtime, but Deer Valley prevailed in the extra minutes, advancing to the second round with a 92-89 victory.
“At no point did we ever get down on ourselves,” Wolverines head coach LeChet Phillips said. “They wanted to step up and they wanted to get this game tonight.”
With 17.3 seconds remaining, Deer Valley junior guard Kendall Smith made a free throw to give his team a 77-74 lead. Jaguars senior forward Daseion Cole responded by nailing a three-pointer to tie it – and was fouled. Cole sunk his free throw to put Bethel ahead 78-77 with just under 10 seconds left.
Deer Valley put the game ball in the hands of Smith, who finished with 28. He was fouled on his way for a layup with just under one second remaining. Smith made the first shot fall but missed the second, sending the game to overtime.
The Wolverines jumped out to an early lead in OT and never trailed.
Senior guard Olajuwon Garner scored 23 points (four in overtime); junior center Marcus Lee turned in a 20-point night, senior forward Noah Labonte finished with 12.
Junior guard Edward Moore led Bethel with 29 points. Senior guard Rodney Cook contributed 26 to the effort.
The Wolverines face McClymonds, from Oakland, at Laney College on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Piedmont Hills 56, Freedom 47
Freedom’s season ended in the first round of the NorCal playoffs in a 56-47 loss to Central Coast Section foe Piedmont Hills.
Junior guard James O’Neal was the highest-scoring Falcon on the night, turning in 17 points. Senior guard Jelani Hardway netted 10 for Freedom.
The Falcons end the season with a 22-8 record.
Heritage 53, Oakland Tech 46
Heritage pulled off one of the NorCal playoffs’ biggest early upsets, claiming a 53-46 victory on the road over Oakland Tech.
The Patriots entered the tournament as the lowest seed – No. 12. The Bulldogs were seeded fifth.
Heritage got a major boost from Jaszmyn Arsenault. The senior forward was locked on from the perimeter, sinking five three-pointers for a total of 15 points on the night.
“The win felt amazing,” Arsenault told The Press via Twitter. “We started out rocky with a lot of turnovers but we pulled it together in the end and got it done. … This is the furthest HHS girls basketball has ever made it and we have all worked hard to get to this point.”
The Patriots hope to keep the upsets coming Saturday, when they face No. 4 Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills.
Deer Valley 54, Armijo 49
Deer Valley was reeling following a knockout loss to NCS stalwart Berkeley.
The remedy would be a win in the NorCal playoffs, and the Wolverines were indeed in higher spirits Wednesday night following a 54-49 victory over visiting Armijo from Fairfield.
After a third quarter that saw the lead change hands a handful of times, Deer Valley took control and gained the win.
“My teammates stepped up a lot,” senior guard Monique Mulder said. “We came out hard. We didn’t want to go home tonight.”
Mulder's 16 points led all scorers; junior guard Sabrea Coleman chipped in 15, senior forward Jenifer Keys netted 13. For Armijo, Melaya Gaines finished with 15 points, Marshanique Hall with 13 and Chloe Dawkins with 11.
Deer Valley, the No. 6 seed, plays No. 3 Kennedy in Sacramento on Saturday.
Click here for updated brackets.