The Temecula Valley Golden Bears Varsity Boys’ Basketball team’s dream season came to a nail-biting end in Tuesday night’s upset loss to Villa Park. Villa Park was the team that had ended Murrieta Valley’s title quest last year in the Division 2AA quarterfinals.
The Villa Park Spartans– who knocked off #2 Alemany last week — played with intensity all night. Lamont Tyler, Villa Park’s 6’10” wide-bodied center closed off the middle of the paint most of the game, affecting Temecula Valley’s ability to get to the rim. TV’s Ryan Schaefer hit two of his four three’s in the opening period, but the Golden Bears trailed 16-13 going into the second quarter.
Spartans led 31-24 at halftime; Luke Selway and CJ Thomas each had 11 points. Riley Schaefer had nine for TV and a struggling Justin Simon was held to one of two free throws.
Villa Park’s Kevin Olsen hit back-to-back three’s in the third quarter. Ryan Schaefer answered with his fourth three of the night. The Golden Bears were behind 44-38 at the end of three.
Temecula Valley battled back from a twelve-point third-quarter deficit (39-27). Simon scored seven of his eleven second-half points in the final period. TV’S 10-0 run with five minutes left started with a Spartans lead at 52-43. Riley Schaefer made two free throws; Simon made one. Simon’s jumper made it 52-48 with three minutes to go. Zavier Harris’ three-point play on a tip-in and foul made it 52-51. Simon made a rebound putback of his own shot to give TV a 53-52 lead with just under two minutes left.
Olsen was fouled on his final three; the basket counted, but he missed the four-point attempt. Spartans lead 55-53. Brian Batchelor responded with a three to give Temecula Valley the lead back, 55-53, with under a minute left. The standing-room only crowd erupted.
Villa Park missed a three and Temecula Valley went on a fast break; Simon missed the jumper, Villa Park rebounded and Olsen was fouled passing on the fast break. He sank both ends of the one-and-one around a Villa Park timeout with 34.9 seconds left.
TV had three shot attempts to win in the last thirty seconds. Simon missed a three-point attempt; the Spartans’ Thomas was fouled on the rebound. He missed the first of a one-and-one attempt. Schaefer rebounded, hit Simon at the top of the arc; his shot fell short with 2.4 seconds left; Riley’s shot at the buzzer from the corner was no good.
Riley Schaefer led Temecula Valley with 13 points. Ryan Schaefer and Simon each had 12. Dominique Mitchell added ten.
“(It) was hard fought,” said Mitchell, “we gave it all we got.” “I’m proud of our team,” said Harris, “We had a heck of a season!” Riley Schaefer said, “I wouldn’t want to do this with any other group of guys.”
The Temecula Valley Golden Bears finish their season with a final record of 26-5 overall and a history-making undefeated league season. The Bears have currently applied to qualify for state (Southern California Regional bid) and are waiting to hear if they do.