Video by Paul Bandong & JP Raineri
The score was 54-51 in favor of Temecula Valley with 44.7 seconds left when Ryan Schafer picked up his fourth foul hitting Great Oak’s Jeremy Smith on a three-point attempt. Smith calmly sank all three to tie the game at 54-all.
Zavier Harris was able to penetrate for a dunk to give the Golden Bears a 56-54 lead with 19.7 seconds left. Great Oak advanced the ball to half-court and used a timeout. Point guard Latrelle Franklin worked for an open shot at the top of the arc, but the ball slipped out of his hands as he went up. “I’ve literally done that shot a thousand times,” said Franklin, “I’m 97% sure when it leaves my hands it’s going in . . . ”
Justin Simon went after the loose ball, sprinted upcourt and ended the game with a monster throw-down, 58-54 Temecula Valley! “It was a great opportunity,” said Simon, “I wanted to make a statement with a big finish.” The TVHS crowd erupted, rushing onto the floor at the buzzer.
The showdown between the top two teams in the Southwestern League did not disappoint as there were seven ties and seven lead changes throughout the game. “That’s what it’s all about,” exclaimed TVHS coach Kyle Armstrong, “That’s high school basketball! Kids played hard on both sides. That’s a well-coached team. We had a couple of breaks and that’s the difference.”
The first quarter ended in a 14-14 tie. Great Oak opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run and went into halftime ahead 29-23. Sophomore Riley Schafer kept Temecula Valley in the game with eleven of his team’s 23 points in the first half.
Simon took over the third quarter, scoring ten of his team’s twenty points. They held Great Oak to 13. Riley Schafer hit a three at the buzzer to give the Golden Bears a one-point lead, 43-42. It was his lone field goal of the second half.
Simon and Harris each had three field goals in the final period. The Great Oak team was held to just three field goals and five free throws in the final period. Simon finished with 19, 17 of those in the second half; Harris had 12. Riley Schafer added 16 points.
“This was just a really big game, great atmosphere, an old school rivalry,” said Simon, “My coaching staff was in my ear telling me it was time to take over.
Franklin led the Wolfpack attack with 15 points; fellow guard Torin Webb had 11. “We came into the game expecting a good fight,” said Webb, “We expected to win, but hats off to them, they pulled out the win. I love the rivalry.”
“First half we got good looks, we got buckets in transition, we did a good job defensively,” said Wolfpack coach Robert Hickey, “Our inability to get defensive rebounds in the second half was the difference in the game.”
Great Oak defeated Murrieta Mesa 64-44 in their final regular season game. Great Oak (18-8, 7-3, Southwestern #2) will host the Highland Bulldogs from Palmdale (18-6, 12-2, Golden #1). The Bulldogs have four players averaging double figures with senior 6’9″ post player Devin Burleson averaging 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.
Temecula Valley beat Murrieta Valley 59-55 to end league play with a perfect 10-0 record. Simon had twenty points while the Schafer brothers combined for 21. Tyler Bilton led the Nighthawk attack with 17.
Temecula Valley (23-4, 10-0, Southwestern #1) hosts the Simi Valley Pioneers (10-16, 3-11, Marmonte at-large). The Pioneers’ offense features 6’4″ guard Joe Colliatie, who averages 19.5 points per game. He has made 79 of his team’s 149 three-point baskets.