SPECIAL TO THE SUN / GARRETT VALENZUELA
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 | 12:05 a.m.
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 scores game’s first 24 points, uses stellar effort from Shabazz Muhammad in state semifinal win
- Husband and wife coaching duo never stopped believing
- 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
RENO — The Green Valley High basketball team couldn’t extend its magical season Thursday in the 4A state semifinals at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
But they didn’t go down without a fight.
The Sunrise Region champion Gators trailed Northern Nevada’s Hug High by 16 points to open the fourth quarter, but chipped away at the deficit and had two shots to win at the buzzer.
In a season of prevailing against long odds, it would have only seemed fitting that Lorenzo Jarvis Jr.’s 3-pointer with time winding down would have been good for a one-point Green Valley win. But Jarvis’ shot was long, and so was Devan Kohn’s put-back attempt at the buzzer, as the Gators couldn’t cap the comeback in a 70-68 defeat.
“These kids, I have been saying all year long, they fight hard,” Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis Sr. said. “They leave it on the court. I’m so proud of these young men. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t go your way.
“But, I have the best team in the whole state,” the coach continued. “They never quit. They gave it all they had tonight. Sometimes you don’t make that last shot. You just have to live with that.”
Green Valley outscored Hug 28-14 in the fourth quarter, desperately trying to extend its season to Friday’s championship game against Bishop Gorman. The team of overachievers opened the season with a 3-7 record and still had a losing mark in late January, but got hot at the end of the season to make its playoff run.
Senior Durrell McDonald, the Gators’ top player, scored 18 second-half points to finish with a team-high 22. McDonald had eight points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-point play with 1:29 remaining to cut the Green Valley deficit to six points, 63-57.
McDonald fouled out on Hug’s ensuing possession, but the Gators didn’t stop fighting. After all, that has been their mantra all season. Sure, McDonald was their most prolific scorer, but this storybook trip to the state tournament has always been about a team effort and getting contributions from unlikely sources.
On Thursday, that source was reserve guard Bryse Larsen.
Larsen took over for McDonald, draining a pair of 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds to give Green Valley a chance to win. Green Valley hit four 3-pointers in the final 3:29.
“That is all you can ask for as a coach and as a player is an opportunity,” Jarvis Sr. said. “And we had it.”
Larsen’s second 3-pointer cut the deficit to 69-68 with 29 seconds left. Hug made 1-of-2 foul shots on its possession to open the door for Green Valley to cap its comeback. While the final shots didn’t drop, the players realize they have nothing to hang their heads about.
There were tears of disappointment in the locker room, but there was also plenty of clapping in acknowledgment of the achievement. The run helped bring the Green Valley community closer, with 100 students taking a nine-hour bus ride to Reno to cheer for the team of unsung heroes.
After the game, students looked equally upset about the loss. While exiting the court, Larsen did a front flip — like he had done some many times before in celebrating a win. It seemed odd considering Green Valley's loss, but Larsen was looking at the bigger picture.
“It was a celebration flip for our high school and we how far we’ve come,” Larsen said. “Last year, we lost in the first round of the playoffs. For us to make it this far is an accomplishment we are proud of.”
Kohn added 15 points for Green Valley and junior guard Ikaika Pladera had 13 points — seven in the fourth-quarter rally. It was a rally that fell short, but one that symbolized the never-say-die attitude of the Green Valley team.
“We looked at the clock and we knew it would be the last game some of us played in our lives,” Larsen said. “So, we had to dig and fight for another game.”