One possession doesn’t decide a basketball game.
But Valley’s boys basketball team will certainly look back at one particular missed opportunity from Monday’s game against Garfield (Wash.).
A technical foul gave the Vikings a chance for a six- or seven-point possession, but they came up empty, and Garfield held on for a 78-70 win in the championship game of the Las Vegas Prep Championship at Las Vegas High.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game,” Valley coach Brian Farnsworth said.
The biggest problem for Valley down the stretch was missed free throws. The Vikings were 4-for-15 from the line in the second half, and 1-for-7 in the final 2:43.
The misses started after Garfield’s Brayon Blake was whistled for a foul and then slapped with a technical with 2:43 to play. Cameron Burton missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity, and Spencer Mathis missed both technical foul shots.
Mathis then missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, allowing the Bulldogs to cling to their 70-67 lead.
Burton missed two more foul shots with 1:37 to go and the score still 70-67. Shea Garland finally made one with 1:37 left, but he needed a third shot after a lane violation wiped out his second miss.
“It’s a learning experience,” Farnsworth said. “We missed seven free throws in a row in a stretch. But you can’t simulate the pressure of a game free throw in practice.”
Valley led 39-33 at the half, but Blake and tournament Most Valuable Player Tramaine Isabell led the comeback. Blake finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Isabell scored 13 of his 24 points in the second half.
Valley had limited the Bulldogs to two-second chance points in the first half, but Blake led the charge on the offensive glass in the second half, and Garfield had 10 second-chance points.
“I thought our defense the second half was solid, but we lost the bottom-side rotation, and they got a lot of second-chance put-backs,” Farnsworth said. “That (Blake) had six or seven offensive rebound put-backs, and that might have been the difference right there.”
Mathis finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but he and Burton struggled to make shots down the stretch. Burton was 2-for-10 from the field in the second half, and Mathis was 4-for-11, including 1-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Burton finished wit 17 points and six assists, and Garland had 12 points for Valley, which made 4 of 22 3-pointers.
“When we get a chance to play in a big game like this again, hopefully we’re better,” Farnsworth said.
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.