Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009 | 12:22 a.m.
Sierra Vista’s basketball team made school history Friday night, defeating Bishop Gorman for the first time ever in a thrilling 86-82 overtime win.
And they did it with their best players on the bench.
Senior point guard Quinten Chow scored 20 points and had seven rebounds. Forward Amir Garrett finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Ray Tapusoa hit a final-second three-pointer that sent the game to overtime; he ended with 23 points.
All had fouled out with still four minutes in the game.
“I can’t be prouder of our kids to have our three leading scorers foul out and still find a way to make the shots and make the plays to get this great win,” said Mountain Lions coach Kent Johnson. “That’s just a fantastic win for us as a program. They’ve been the league champions, everything has to go through them, and this is the first step.”
With time winding down in regulation and Sierra Vista (15-3, 4-0) trailing 67-70, the plan was to get the ball to Tapusoa for a final shot. But when the Gales smothered him everywhere he went, Michael Stork took a shot from the outside that clanged off the back of the rim -- right into the hands of Tapusoa, who stepped back behind the line and banked in the game-tying shot as the buzzer sounded.
“I took a look at the clock and knew I had enough time to get it off,” Tapusoa said. “I was just praying that it went in. It feels good to help my team like that, we’re like a family.”
With his teammates out of the game, senior Miguel Reyes put the Mountain Lions on his back, finishing with 19 points, eight of them in overtime. The Gaels (11-4, 4-1) had opportunities in the final minutes but threw the ball away one too many times, missing some key shots.
“We needed to finish more,” Gaels coach Grant Rice said. “We were in control of the game at the end but Sierra Vista never gave in. They hit the big shot at the buzzer. We missed a layup to tie it with under a minute left in the game. It just didn’t go our way at the end.”
Bishop Gorman lost a starter of their own to fouls when starting point guard John Loyd fouled out in overtime. Loyd finished with 16 points. Junior Anson Winder worked hard inside the paint, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Kylel Coleman led the Gaels with 28 points, including a big-time three with 4.1 seconds left that kept his team close until the very end.
There was no question that this game would be different right from the start, as Bishop Gorman got its first look at two players they had never seen before. Both Chow and Tapusoa transferred to Sierra Vista just this year, Chow from California and Tapusoa from Utah. The two players have had an immediate impact on the team’s dynamics.
“I’ll tell you what, those two first-year kids as seniors are the heart and soul of how we play,” Johnson said. “They’re two of the most physical guards in the state and they always come to play. I know I can always count on their best.”
The game flipped the two teams in the 4A Southwest League, putting Sierra Vista at the top of the division. But with plenty of conference games left on the schedule, the leaderboard could easily switch again.
“The great thing about basketball is you get to play again right away,” Rice said. “We get to see them again. They’re excited because they're first place in the league and that will give us motivation.”
Friday night, however, belonged to the Mountain Lions.
“I have no voice left,” Johnson said. “It’s a good thing I don’t have hair because it would be gray after tonight. We’ve waited a long time for this.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].