Valley College made 13 of 18 free throws in the final four and a half minutes Thursday night to defeat Antelope Valley, 67-65, in the first round of the Mountain Valley Conference Tournament at Antelope Valley.
The Monarchs (16-11) will face league champion College of the Canyons (22-5) at Antelope Valley College in a semifinal game today at 8 p.m.
In Thursday's second game, L.A. Southwest College ousted West Los Angeles from the tournament, 82-60. Southwest (17-12) will face L.A. Trade Tech (17-8) at 6 p.m. The winner of that game must play Valley or Canyons on Saturday to be the MVC's top-seeded team in the state tournament.
Valley led, 27-19, at intermission and quickly extended that to 35-19 with eight unanswered points at the start of the second half. Antelope Valley cut the deficit to two, 63-61, with a 19-8 run sparked by center Darryl Lewis in the final five minutes.
The Monarchs were paced by Larry Middleton's game-high 26 points. The sophomore was named the conference's most valuable player for the second year in a row earlier in the day. He made all eight of his free-throw attempts while scoring 16 points in the second half.
Point guard Dennis Anderson had 13 points and made 6 consecutive foul shots in the final minute. Overall, Valley made 23 of 28 free throws.
The Marauders, who finished their season with at 14-17, were led by Lewis' 18 points. Teammates Cedric Hayes and Terry Wheaton had 11 each.
Guard Manuel Carolina led Southwest to victory with 18 points. Steve Jones added 13 and Charles Brinkley had 12.
West L.A. (5-20) lost its 17th consecutive game. Branson Nicholson paced the Oilers with 12 points, while Frank Lopez and Jonathan Grind had 10 each.