Valley’s best player had the ball with an open look and the game on the line.
He lined up the 3-pointer and the release was good, but the ball just wouldn’t go down. And that’s OK with Valley coach Brian Farnsworth.
Khristian Kirkwood’s potential game-tying shot rimmed out at the buzzer Wednesday as the Vikings fell 67-64 to Mesquite (Ariz.) in the Amare Stoudemire bracket championship at the Amare Stoudemire Each 1 Teach 1 National Invitational at Durango.
“I thought it was good when it left his hand — I’m sure he thought it was good — but it went out,” Farnsworth said. “We can accept that. We’ll learn from this experience and get better.”
The team already has come leaps and bounds since last season, when Valley went 10-18. Despite having just one senior on the roster, Valley is off to an 8-2 start. Farnsworth hopes to build on his team’s 3-1 run in the tournament once Northeast League play resumes after the new year.
“We have a ton of confidence,” Farnsworth said. “As bad as we wanted to win this game and win the championship, in the big picture of things, those conference games are what’s important moving forward.”
Valley put itself in position to win Wednesday, leading 53-49 after an Angelo Coleman free throw with 6:36 to play.
But Mesquite’s Isaiah Strong was fouled taking a 3-pointer on the next possession, and he hit all three free throws to start an 11-0 run that gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Valley cut its deficit to 67-64 on a 3-pointer by Adalberto Garcia with 22 seconds to play. The Vikings forced a turnover on the ensuing possession, and Garcia was fouled with 3.9 seconds left. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Royce Finley rebounded and passed it out to a wide-open Kirkwood, who couldn’t get the 3-pointer to fall.
Kirkwood finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Christian Kessee added 18 points for the Vikings.
“For this team, the sky’s the limit, and we can just continue to get better every day,” Farnsworth said. “Good or bad, we’ve kind of made a name for ourselves from here, and now we’ve got to come to play every single night.”
Durango 51, Cheyenne 44 — Donovan Williams scored all 14 of his points in the second half to help the Trailblazers down the Desert Shields for third place in the Each 1 Teach 1 bracket.
Williams’ dunk with 2:43 to play broke a 41-41 tie, and Durango led the rest of the way.
Devonte Williams led the Trailblazers with 18 points and seven rebounds. Greg Gentry scored 12 for Durango.
Brian Organ led Cheyenne with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Canyon Springs 64, Leflore (Ala.) 59 — Michael Thompson scored 19 points as the Pioneers took third place in the Amare Stoudemire bracket with a win over Leflore.
Adrian Snow added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Jeremy Alexander scored 10 for Canyon Springs.
Denver East 71, Palo Verde 58 — The Angels held the Panthers to six points in the third quarter to win third place in the Amare Stoudemire Bracket.
Phil Watts had 17 points and Uriah Carter added 16 for Denver East.
Moses Morgan had 20 points to lead Palo Verde. Delron Mims scored 16 for the Panthers.
Las Vegas 79, Liberty 75 — Tyree Anderson had 20 points as the Wildcats held off the Patriots.
George Sanico added 12 points for Las Vegas.
Liberty’s Ashante Ross led all scorers with 26 points. Tim Rambo added 15 points for the Patriots.
Rancho 74, Douglas 64 — Kris Hall had 15 points to lead the Rams past the Tigers.
Amir Royal added 12 points and Tyler Gaston scored 10 for Rancho, which led 18-4 after one quarter.
Shadow Ridge 58, McQueen 50 — Josh Youngblood led three players in double figures with 12 points as the Mustangs beat the Lancers.
Joseph Pearson added 11 points and Zach Hafen had 10 for Shadow Ridge.
Green Valley 63, Mojave 26 — Mojave managed a scant seven points in the second half as the Gators routed the Rattlers.
Glenn Bewley had 16 points to lead Green Valley. Durrell McDonald scored 10 for the Gators.
Centennial 49, Francis Parker (Calif.) 47 — Ben Vozzola had seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs rallied for the victory.
Francis Parker led 40-37 entering the fourth quarter.
Evan Martin added 10 points for Centennial.
Carson 51, Basic 47 — Victor Robbins scored 24 points and the Senators held off the Wolves.
Tyler Dobbins had 18 points and Nick Sangchaloay added 12 for Basic.
Silverado 63, Durango JV 46 — David Lutomski and Ruben Jackson each had 17 points to lead the Skyhawks to the win.
Dwayne Marshall added 11 points for Silverado.
Pacific Hills (Calif.) 58, Chaparral 35 — Pacific Hills outscored the Cowboys 23-10 in the third quarter to pull away.
Chris Goodloe had 11 points to lead Chaparral.