Saddleback left the back door wide open and West Valley ran through it for a 74-60 victory in the quarterfinals of the state men's basketball championship Thursday at the San Jose State Event Center.
West Valley's patient offensive style relied on screen after screen until a player got free for an easy basket behind a Saddleback defender.
More often than not, that West Valley player was forward Bennett Davison, who had a game-high 23 points. He was 11 of 13 from the field.
Davison was especially effective in the second half. He had 17 points including six dunks, three of which came in a row.
"They run a lot of stuff for him," Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel said, "and obviously they screen very well for him."
Brummel called a couple of timeouts in an effort to adjust the defense to stop the play, but the Gauchos failed.
That Saddleback was in the game at all was somewhat surprising, considering the events of the first half.
Anthony Carter, the state's leading scoring at 27 points per game, spent much of the half on the bench with three fouls and no points.
Carter was called for an offensive foul on the Gauchos' first possession of the game and got his third on an ill-fated drive to the basket with 11 minutes 41 seconds left in the half.
He went to the bench, actually standing at the end of it, with no points and didn't return until the start of the second half.
Instead of folding, the rest of the Gauchos played well and were down, 31-30, at the break. Rob Beavers had eight points in the opening half and Calab Ashley added seven.
"That was amazing," Brummel said.
Carter returned in the second half and scored 17 points, but was five of 16 from the field in the game.
West Valley took control with a 16-5 run that opened a 57-42 lead with 11:02 left in the game.
Saddleback rallied with a 6-0 run that including a spectacular one-handed dunk by Carter, but the Gauchos got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Jacobi Thompson had 17 points, including making five of eight three-pointers for West Valley, which advanced to play Santa Monica in one semifinal today.
Beavers finished with 14 points and seven rebounds for Saddleback, which with Riverside was co-champion of the Orange Empire Conference and ended the season 27-6.
Saddleback had reached the state tournament with a 75-74 upset of MiraCosta last Saturday.
"I think we had a great season," Brummel said. "I don't want this loss to diminish all of the pride [in our players] for what they accomplished this season."