Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer come to you from the Las Vegas Sun's podcast studio for one final time this basketball season. They dissect the chances of seeing an all-Las Vegas state championship game between Bishop Gorman and Green Valley.
- Gorman, Shabazz Muhammad out to avenge loss in last year’s state tournament
- Practicing for the state tournament, fighting wind, cold and chain-link nets
- Durrell McDonald unstoppable in leading Green Valley past Foothill for Sunrise title
- Devan Kohn’s 34 points helps Green Valley upset Valley in Sunrise semifinals
- State semifinal picks
- High school basketball section
As Danna Jarvis walked closer to the locker room, she could hear members of the Green Valley High basketball team getting louder in their celebration.
It was minutes after the Gators beat Foothill last week in the Sunrise Regional championship game to earn a spot in the state tournament, and the players couldn’t hold back their joy in celebrating what they had accomplished.
They had done what some believed was unthinkable: After starting the season with a 3-7 record, the underdog Gators are two games away from capturing the state title.
Jarvis, the wife of head coach Lorenzo Jarvis, wears many hats for the team. She’s listed as an assistant coach, sitting directly behind the bench on game days keeping stats, motivating players and helping with in-game adjustments.
Off the court, she’s a mother figure to the players, all of whom spent more than their share of time at the Jarvis house during childhood. Lorenzo Jarvis Jr., one of three Jarvis children, is Green Valley’s starting guard.
When the Gators play Northern Nevada’s Hug High at 8 p.m. tonight at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno in the state semifinals, it will be a continuation of a journey many associated with the team say is the result of the family atmosphere the Jarvises have brought the program.
So, when Danna Jarvis opened the locker room and saw the players jumping up and down celebrating, she immediately joined in the party.
“The last 30 seconds of that game on Friday, I was getting teary-eyed,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is it. We are doing it.’ I was so happy for (my husband).
“I know how much time Lorenzo has put into this, how much he cares about the kids and loves the game. To have it finally pay off makes me extremely happy.”
It wasn’t the first time the Jarvises celebrated a regional crown. In 2009, they coached the Green Valley girls team to the Sunrise title, with daughter Jasmine Jarvis as one of the Gators’ top players. Getting to experience the thrill of victory and pageantry of the state tournament with their children has been the experience of a lifetime.
“I believe in the kids,” Lorenzo Jarvis Sr. said. “You have to start in practice by teaching the kids their strengths and weaknesses. We try to mold that into one big melting pot and get the best out of them. We take advantage of what their strengths are and work at improving the rest.”
He spent five seasons coaching the Green Valley girls — losing in 2008 and 2010 in the Sunrise title game — before moving to the boys team last year. He’s found his niche in motivating and teaching players, leading the Gator boys to the regional title for the first time since 1995.
Since Green Valley opened in 1991, the school has won several titles in virtually every sport. Step one foot into their gym and you’ll see the walls packed with championship banners — so many, they spill into the back auxiliary gym.
In basketball, however, there wasn’t much success — at least until Lorenzo Jarvis arrived.
Green Valley twice had four-game losing streaks this year and had a losing record through January. But Jarvis always felt the team was full of potential, predicting to his players early in the season — when they were stumbling to a 3-7 start — that they’d contend for a championship.
Getting his players to believe was easier said than done, but watching them play the last quarter of the season, you could easily tell they had bought in.
“As much as I yell, I will be the first to put my arm around a kid and tell him how proud I am of him,” Lorenzo Jarvis Sr. said. “I try to be even-keeled with the kids. You can’t just yell to yell, or for shocks. There has to be a purpose and there has been a purpose with everything we do this year.”
Jarvis is never short for words when speaking to his players and doesn’t hesitate being stern with them. Take a bad shot, don’t hustle or play poor defense, and you’ll immediately find yourself on the bench getting an earful.
Just ask Lorenzo Jarvis Jr. Being the coach’s son hasn’t resulted in any special treatment — especially when the Gators play poorly.
“There is no special treatment,” said Lorenzo Jarvis Jr., a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who had nine points in Green Valley’s win against Foothill. “I have to go with it. After the games, after the practices, he’s still coaching me. He is a hard but caring coach. He will yell at you but at the same time be your biggest cheerleader. He is hard, but it works in your favor because you get better.”
As for his mom: “She really does a good job of balancing him out,” he said.
It’s uncommon for a woman to coach a boys high school varsity team, but it’s become the norm at Green Valley. The Jarvises met when Lorenzo played at Long Island University, and basketball has been a big part of their relationship.
They moved to Southern Nevada in the mid 1990s and have been coaching their children — and other people’s children — ever since. Another son, eighth-grader Xavier, will join the team next winter.
“I look at all these kids as if they are my children,” Lorenzo Jarvis said.
The players feel the same way.
Senior guard Spencer Scaggs has been friends with Lorenzo Jarvis Jr. since elementary school, giving the Jarvis family credit for helping create a memorable high school experience. Whether it’s his style of coaching or implementing team-chemistry building exercises such as Saturday night dinners, Jarvis has called the right shots.
“I’ve known him since elementary school, and he has always been hard on us, and a little bit harder on his son,” Scaggs said. “But whatever he is doing, it is working and we are a family.
“Why not us?” Scaggs continued. “We really feel we are going to win (the state tournament).”
That would surely lead to another memorable celebration.