Del Norte survived Valley’s fast start. The Knights, with an old-fashioned buzzer beater, also survived Valley’s fast finish.
On a length-of-the-floor inbounds play Del Norte practices often but seldom bears fruit, it was sophomore Shane Douma-Sanchez who hit a 6-foot runner with no time remaining Tuesday night for a 53-52 victory for Class 4A’s third-ranked Knights.
“It’s actually a play we ran three times last year. It didn’t work one time,” Del Norte coach Jeron McIntosh said. “It’s nice to have it work.”
Valley, the two-time defending state champion currently ranked No. 6 in 4A, trailed 51-45 with under 2 minutes to go. Isaac Tapia buried a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 51-50 with 29.5 seconds left, and after a missed front end of a one-and-one by Del Norte, the Vikings (1-2, 1-1 in District 6-4A) had a chance to take the lead.
Which they did, as senior guard Derick Chavez’s drive and shot off the glass put Valley in front 52-51 with 5.6 seconds remaining.
Del Norte (3-1, 2-1) called timeout, setting up the final play. “We practice that over and over and over,” Douma-Sanchez said.
He inbounded to 6-foot-6 teammate Xavier Evans, who handed off to Douma-Sanchez, racing up the floor. He sprinted inside the Valley arc, and let the shot fly with about three-tenths of a second showing. He was asked if he was aware of the time left.
“Mental clock,” he said.
That capped an extremely close and competitive final quarter-and-a-half in a game that had plenty of ebb and flow up until then.
Valley was out to a 15-6 lead early, but the Knights, patient and effective, caught, and then passed, the Vikings. Del Norte scored 10 of the final 11 points of the first half, and led 26-21.
Valley capitalized on a lengthy field goal drought by Del Norte to erase a 10-point deficit (31-21) in the third quarter. Valley eventually caught and passed Del Norte, grabbing a 35-33 lead with 2:16 left.
The fourth quarter was close until the end, when Douma-Sanchez finished it off in style with the last of his game-best 23 points.
“It was muscle memory at that point,” he said.
Said McIntosh: “He understands how to win games. We want to give him the ball and let him do his thing.”
Valley coach EZ Panas initially believed the game-winner went airborne after the buzzer.
“We were trying to keep him in front of us and make him take a tough jump shot,” said Panas, who is serving as an interim coach for the Vikings this season. “He hit a tough shot; that’s on me. I have to dial up something better defensively right there and make him take a tougher shot than that.”
DEL NORTE 53, VALLEY 52
VALLEY (1-2, 1-1 in 6-4A): Derick Chavez 16, Alejandro Tafoya 5, Isaac Tapia 7, Joshua Gutierrez 2, Kevin Griner 12, Alex Giron 2, Jesse Murphy 2, Lolo Romero 6. Totals 18 9-16 52.
DEL NORTE (3-1, 2-1): Judah Casaus 8, Josh Tellez 6, Noah Garcia 2, Jude Tapia 3, Feathers Valencia 11, Shane Douma-Sanchez 23. Totals 20 7-10 53.
Valley 15 6 20 11 — 52
Del Norte 10 16 16 11 — 53
3-point goals: V 7 (Chavez 3, Griner 2, Tapia, Tafoya); DN 6 (Valencia 3, Douma-Sanchez 2, Tapia). Total fouls: V 15; DN 15. Fouled out: V, Murphy.