SAN BERNARDINO — A wayward pass intercepted by San Bernardino Valley College sophomore Gerry Blakes ended the upset aspirations of the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team on Wednesday evening.
The visiting seventh-seeded Vaqueros cut an eight-point deficit to one possession, but ultimately fell short, 74-71, in the third round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional playoffs at Joseph W. Snyder Gymnasium.
With the defeat, Western State Conference-South Division runner-up Glendale capped a strong season with a 22-6 record, while the Foothill Conference Wolverines (27-7) continue their postseason drive in the conference semifinals on Saturday.
“When you lose your last game of the season, of course that’s going to put a sour note on what you accomplished to get here,” Vaqueros Coach Brian Beauchemin said. “We’ve come a long way and really had a great season.
“We won 22 games this year and lost all six of our games against No. 1 or 2 seeds. It’s difficult, but we have a lot to be proud of.”
Glendale appeared finished after a three-point play from Blakes, who led all players with 27 points and five assists, converted a three-point play with 1:44 remaining that gave the Wolverines a 69-61 advantage.
Yet, Glendale tried to dig itself out of its hole as sophomore forward Gor Plavchyan (17 points, seven rebounds) scored four of the game’s next six points to pull his team within, 71-65, with 40.4 seconds left.
Glendale then fouled San Bernardino’s Marcus Fuggins, who missed the front end of a one-plus-one bonus, which was rebounded by the Vaqueros and led to a three-pointer from Emmett Duvall, who paced his side with 22 points, with 24 seconds remaining to bring the Vaqueros within 71-68.
“[We were] down by 12 points late and we didn’t quit,” Duvall said. “Some teams would have rolled over and lost by 30, but we kept fighting until the end.”
While the Wolverines countered with a pair of free throws, Duvall was inexplicably fouled by San Bernardino’s Tymarieh Dixon while shooting a three.
Duvall then calmly sank three free throws to pull Glendale within 73-71 with 7.1 seconds left.
Again, Glendale fouled, this time hacking San Bernardino’s Keith Smith with 4.6 seconds left.
Smith made his first free throw, but missed his second, which was rebounded by Plavchyan, who threw to mid-court but had the pass picked off by Blakes, who flung the ball high in the air as time expired.
“We had our chances,” Plavchyan said. “I don’t think they did anything better, we just didn’t make enough shots.”
Glendale led by five at the half, but a Wolverines 29-12 run over the first 11 minutes-plus in the second half put the home team ahead, 60-48, with 9:43 left.
The Vaqueros continued to battle, but never trimmed their deficit to less than five points until the final minute.
“That was the difference,” Beauchemin said. “We have a lead at halftime and then just give it away like nothing.”
The first half was defined by two big runs, as Glendale took a 36-31 advantage into the break.
The Vaqueros were on the ropes at the 4:40 mark when the Wolverines’ Steven Adams converted a two-footer on a stunning no-look pass from teammate Charles Callison, which put San Bernardino Valley up 30-21.
From that point, the Vaqueros responded with a half-closing 15-1 run that commenced with a rare five points scored on one possession.
Glendale’s Jason Moore buried a three-pointer from the corner at 4:29 off an assist from Jalen Etienne (14 points) to bring the Vaqueros within six.
As Moore’s triple swished home, Dixon fouled Plavchyan with the Vaqueros in the one-plus-one bonus.
Plavchyan then sank two free throws to cement the five-point possession and pull Glendale within 30-26.
The score not only immediately brought Glendale back into contention, but switched momentum to the visitors, who followed with a three-pointer from Etienne and then a 10-footer from Plavchyan, thanks to an assist from Etienne, that gave Glendale the lead, 31-30, with 2:25 left.
Glendale continued its scoring binge, taking a 35-30 lead on a pair of free throw from Etienne with 1:14 left.
In between Glendale’s scores, the Wolverines committed four turnovers during Glendale’s run, which was only halted on a free-throw make from Blakes with 4.7 seconds left.
Prior to Glendale’s spurt, San Bernardino Valley launched its own 14-0 run that turned a Vaqueros’ 16-14 lead into a 28-16 deficit with 6:57 remaining.
Similarly, the Vaqueros committed five turnovers during the Wolverines' run.