VALLEY CENTER—Valley Center High School boys basketball coach John Wetig considered Tuesday’s 53-52 victory an important win – but not for the reason one might expect.
While Maize South coach Kip Schultz was concerned about his team’s loss due to sub-state implications, Wetig was proud because it was the first time in years that Valley Center had secured two victories in a row.
“This is a big win for us,” Wetig said Tuesday.
The Hornets, now 5-8 overall, had to fight back from a 21-14 halftime deficit this week. Valley Center scored five unanswered points to start the third quarter.
Hornet junior Braden Janzen’s field goal tied the score 23-23, and Valley Center claimed a lead with 3:28 left in the quarter when senior Garrett Reeves scored two of his team-high 16 points.
Junior Patrick Schrater followed with a bucket that gave the home team a 27-23 advantage. Wetig said he was pleased with how resilient his players were and proud that they kept their heads up and remained dedicated to the game plan.
Although Valley Center outscored Maize South 13-8 in the third quarter, the Mavericks’ 6-0 run left them ahead 29-27 heading into the fourth. Each team played with emotion in the final stanza, when one player from each side was penalized with a technical foul.
The first occurred midway through the quarter. Maize South senior Micah Kiser was whistled for a foul and then officials quickly added a technical foul. Reeves sank one of two free throws that resulted in a 38-33 Valley Center lead.
The Hornets were still ahead, 44-40, when they used a timeout at the 2:34 mark. They increased their cushion to six when sophomore Blake Crager picked up a basket, but Schrater faced the same situation as Kiser with 2:18 left in the game. Following Schrater’s foul and then an immediate technical foul, Maize South sophomore Kade Kordonowy went four of four at the stripe.
When he was finished, Maize South trailed just 46-44. The Mavericks were awarded possession of the ball, but Valley Center capitalized on their bad pass when sophomore Alec Wetig scored two. Maize South missed a three-pointer, and after running some time off the clock, Crager’s shot gave Valley Center a 50-44 lead.
Maize South called for timeout at the 1:02 mark.
“Anything that could go wrong, there in the second half, pretty much did,” Schultz said.
John Wetig explained that Valley Center used a zone defense for most of the second half, but when he thought Maize South was getting more comfortable playing against it, the Hornets switched back to man-to-man.
Following the timeout, Maverick junior Kellen Filby missed a three-pointer but attempted another trey. A foul call sent Filby to the line, where he sank a trio of free throws to pull Maize South within three, 50-47.
A timeout occurred with 31 seconds remaining and then Maize South resorted to fouling. Valley Center hit three of four three throws, but Filby came through with a bucket. The Hornets led 53-49 with 15 seconds left.
Maize South junior Brett Barney drained a three-pointer, and Valley Center was whistled for a foul on the play. However, Barney missed his single free-throw attempt. The Mavericks were down one, 53-52, with eight seconds on the clock.
Maize South fouled Schrater, but he missed both chances at the stripe. The Mavericks regained possession and missed a field goal, but as both teams struggled for the rebound, officials called it a jump ball. Possession was awarded to Maize South with 0.3 seconds remaining.
Freshman Payten Ricks threw the ball inbounds toward the basket, and multiple Mavericks attempted to tip it in. Time expired and Valley Center survived, boosting its record to 5-8. Maize South dropped to 6-7.
Schultz said the Mavericks needed to play with intensity and passion. He was also frustrated with their 15 turnovers on the night.
“Our coming back was just too little, too late,” he added.
Barney scored a game-high 24 points, followed by Kordonowy with 13. In addition to Reeves, Valley Center junior Zach Brown was in double figures with 10 points.