The 66-64 win over Golden Valley of Merced on Thursday, Dec. 20, in Steve Thornton Gymnasium came down to the last eight seconds.
Golden Valley (10-3) had a 64-62 lead and was on a fast break when West junior Kenneth Daye forced a turnover. Senior Justin Saar grabbed the ball and dashed in for a layup to tie the game at 64-64.
The Cougars had eight seconds to take the game back, but West (11-3) took control as Daye stole the ball back again and got it to junior Hayden Ordone, who hit a jump shot from the middle to put West up 66-64 with four seconds left.
Ordone said he knew a win would make West the first team to win three consecutive years at the Winter Holiday Classic, now in its 24th year.
“I was going to be real mad if I missed it,” he said of the game-winning attempt.
The Cougars ran one more play and got off a potential 3-point shot, which bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
The Wolf Pack and Cougars played a close match until midway through the second quarter. Golden Valley had the height advantage, with junior forward Joshua Sykes dominating the boards with nine rebounds and four blocked shots. He was also the game’s leading scorer with 21 points.
West made up for it with an aggressive press, which helped lead to Daye’s five steals and four steals for Saar.
Daye, named the tournament’s most valuable player, said West had to find the will to win in the second half.
“The first half was rough for us,” Daye said. “In the second half coach (Derek Sprecksel) told us we had to step it up and play harder, and do whatever we could do to win.”
Down by 15 points in the third quarter, the Pack started to catch up on shots from Daye, Ordone and Saar. Senior forwards Obrien Nnaji and DeAndre Thompson contributed shots in the fourth quarter.
Thompson, West’s leading scorer with 17 points for the night, was named to the all-tournament team, as was Ordone with 11 points. Daye contributed 14 points, and Nnaji scored 13 and had 10 rebounds.
“I just felt like overall as a team we fought for every game,” Thompson said.
“We were able to let our starters sit on the bench, and other players were able to get playing time, and that helped us to play together as a team,” Thompson said. “That’s what brought us the W tonight.”
Kimball 61, Johansen 50
The Jaguars survived a sluggish third quarter and got back on track with their outside shots to take third place in the Winter Holiday Classic.
Kimball (8-5) was ahead by 12 points midway through the second quarter, but Johansen (4-6) found its offensive rhythm and tied it up 35-35 midway through the third.
“I thought we had a great second quarter until the last two minutes, and then the first six minutes into the third were terrible. We could not shoot the ball,” Kimball coach Joe Lawrence said.
Kimball senior Alex Toledo, the Jaguars’ leading scorer with 15 points, hit two of his three 3-point shots in the fourth quarter, and Kimball also took advantage of Johansen’s fouls to make 10 of 10 shots from the free-throw line in the fourth.
Also leading the Kimball offense was senior guard DeVante Baisa with 14 points for the night, including three 3-point shots. He was also selected to the all-tournament team.
Baisa said that the tournament gets his team ready for Valley Oak League play in January.
“We executed our offense. I feel like we’ve done that a little better in this tournament.
It’s tough playing four games back to back, but we just push through it and it’s going to make us stronger,” he said.
“We have a pretty deep squad and we’re going to do well this year.”
Tracy 62, Central Valley 58
The Bulldogs finished the Holiday Classic with a win over Central Valley on Thursday at West High.
Tracy (4-9) pulled ahead in the first half for a 34-30 halftime lead and extended its lead in the third to hold off Central Valley’s (3-7) fourth-quarter surge. Leading scorer for the Bulldogs was junior center Josh Brakkee with 13 points, and Damon Stroup scored 12.
Excel Academy 72, Delta Charter 58
Excel Academy (7-7) had a 38-31 lead at the half and went on a scoring run in the fourth quarter to beat Delta Charter (2-6) on Thursday at West High. Senior center Joseph Peebles was the Dragons’ leader on offense with 17 points. Junior Jordan Thornton tossed in 14 and sophomore Deandre Ragsdale contributed 13.
Other Thursday scores
Consolation: Livingston 61, Downey 51
Consolation: Franklin 75, Pacheco 54
Enochs 85, Modesto 72
Manteca 58, Lathrop 41