ANTIOCH, Calif. — Deer Valley's (Antioch)
boys basketball team scored more than 51-48 North Coast Section Division I semifinal win over visiting De La Salle (Concord)
on Friday. The Wolverines defeated plenty of notions as well.
* They couldn't defeat the Concord private school power two times in a single season.
* They couldn't win a tough, defensive, slow-paced game against Spartans.
* Without big plays down the stretch from their premier players Marcus Lee
and Kendall Smith
, they couldn't possibly prevail.
But fourth-quarter three-pointers each from little-used bench players Mario Goins
and Wahied Emran
, along with point guard Nsimba Webster
— his only points of the night — helped the second-seeded Wolverines from Antioch (23-5) fight from a six-point deficit late in the third with the Kentucky-bound Lee (14 points, 18 rebounds) on bench with four fouls.
In front of more than 3,000 fans jammed into Deer Valley's gym, Goins, a 6-foot-1 junior shooting guard, didn't enter until early in the fourth quarter but his three with 2:54 gave Deer Valley the lead for good 44-42 with 3:47 left. Deer Valley now plays top seed San Leandro, a 55-53 winner over Freedom-Oakley, for the championship 8:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary's College.
Neither San Leandro or Deer Valley has won a NCS title.
"The whole time on the bench I told myself to be ready and I was," Goins said. Kenny Robinson
also scored five points in the fourth quarter, when De La Salle (24-4) made just two of 14 shots. The Spartans, winners of 11 straight coming in, were led by Arizona-bound Elliott Pitts
(15 points), Mac Hoffman
(13) and Mike Inman
Smith, a 6-3 point guard, led all scorers with 18 points but just six after halftime.
"I'm proud of my guys," Smith said. "And I have total faith in them. Mario and (Emran) can definitely shoot so we want to get them the ball."
Deer Valley coach LeChet Phillips had faith his team could win a tough game against De La Salle, which traditionally wins those kinds of games. Deer Valley won the first meeting between the teams 55-38 in the Chris Vontoure Classic, hosted by De La Salle.
"Everybody assumes were just an up-tempo, run-and-gun team, but we can do some other things," Phillips said. "We won similar games in similar fashion against Serra and Newark Memorial also."
It helps to have the length of Lee, who had four blocks but effected so many others. When he picked up his fourth foul with 2:23 left in the third and De La Salle leading 36-30, it didn't look good for the Wolverines.
But Smith started a 17-6 run keyed by the three-pointers from Goins, Emran and Webster. Deer Valley actually looked in complete command, up 51-44 and less than a minute to go, but two free throws each from Brian Rosselli and Pitts, closed it to 51-48 with 8.0 seconds.
Another Deer Valley turnover, gave De La Salle one last shot, but Inman's last-second three-point attempt was long and the Wolverines held on.
De La Salle advances to the CIF Northern California playoffs, but it will be interesting to see if it gets pulled up to the Open Division. Had the Spartans won the title, almost assuredly they would have.
Phillips isn't sure if Deer Valley will be moved up win or lose on Friday.
"Wherever they put us we're fine with," he said. "We've taken on all the best in Northern California so we're ready. Either way, we're ready."