If you looked at the point totals in last Saturday night’s Southern California Regionals, you’ll note the top scorers were Allan Hancock College’s Shane Carney, who had 32 points, and San Bernardino Valley’s Kevin McNeal’s 33.
Here’s what the box score didn’t report:
Points not allowed.
Valley put its defense on the line against the likes of the Santa Maria-based campus. Trouble is, Hancock did, too.
Against SBVC defenses, Devin Davis, averaging 11.2, scored 11, but he had to shoot 14 times.
Glenn Jordan had between 10 and 11 points a game, hitting a more than respectable 5-of-8 in his 17-point effort.
Shemarr Parker went 2-for-8.
In every case, there was a Wolverine standing, slashing, pressuring, double teaming, forcing Bulldogs-with-the-ball into weird shooting position, un-favorite spots on the court – taking bad shots, in other words.
Quincy Brewer, a 10-year man at Valley, knows what he wants. It ain’t always about scoring. He’s constructed a team defense.
Subbing liberally, getting guys in and out of the lineup, he wasn’t always looking for scoring. Give him some defense, he’s happy. Give him some rebounds, he’ll offer a high-five. Stop the other team’s scoring, he’ll celebrate.
This isn’t a guy that sits in his Valley College office every day enjoying his tenured status. He’s plotting and planning, scheming and dreaming.
Another guy that probably doesn’t sit around is Hancock coach Tyson Aye, whose state JUCO Hall of Fame dad, Denny, coached at nearby Cal State in another era – three straight winning seasons from 1994-1997.
Carney, by the way, was popping for 16.9-a-game. He hit 10-for-23, but he went 4-for-5 in a pair of overtime periods – 12 in “crunch time.”
Carney against McNeal. SBVC defense against Hancock’s defense. The better matchup was Aye against Brewer.
This was a coaching duel to see.
It wasn’t Phil Jackson’s Lakers going up against Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, but for JUCO ball, this was JUCO prime time.
Valley’s guys – McNeal and Kendall Lauderdale connected on 17-of-32, 54 points total – went 9-of-38 from the other forces. Hancock’s defenders were playing tough, too.
Around 400 seated fans probably didn’t appreciate the defensive give-and-take that both sides were showcasing.
Aye didn’t get too excited when his team fell behind 28-13 in the first half.
Brewer seemed perfectly content that his team would rebound from a 58-51 deficit in the second half.
Both coaches were right.
Both coaches relied heavily on their defensive game plans.
Both sides lost seven combined players who fouled out.
Both teams traded leads in the final minutes.
For a Southern California Regional playoff, both teams were fighting hard.
Both coaches were right there at the end.
It was 67-67 after regulation.
When McNeal and Lauderdale blocked Bulldogs’ shots in the final 10 seconds of Overtime No. 1, it was defensive firepower at its best.
In the concluding moments of Overtime No. 2, Hancock had a three-point lead and possession. Suddenly, in the midst of Valley College’s pressure-cooking, full-court defense, Davis couldn’t get across mid-court. Turnover!
McNeal hit a jumper from the free throw line. One point disadvantage with 28 ticks left.
Suddenly, in the midst of Valley’s pressure-cooking, full-court defense, a double team forced Jordan to step out of bounds.
With 14 seconds left, Valley had one possession remaining with both Lauderdale and McNeal ready to fire – a golden chance to win.
Lauderdale, Valley’s 6-foot-7 inside force, was covered by Hancock’s smothering defense.
McNeal, who had three impressive dunks, wouldn’t get close for another one. Pulled up with a few ticks left. Open jumper. Nearly the same spot a few moments earlier. Nice stroke. Ball on target. Halfway down. Twirled around, out. Hancock’s Diego Lucas rebounded. Fouled. Missed both free throws with two seconds left.
Logan Koch rebounded. Heaved it down court. In a game like this, those 400 spectators might’ve expected it to find its way in. Final: Hancock 92, Valley 91.
It’s everything you want in a basketball game. For those fortunate 400 on Saturday night, stand in admiration of the effort.