The new year didn’t start well for Green Valley’s boys basketball team. The Gators lost 72-62 to Foothill on Jan. 4 to fall to 4-11 and 1-2 in the Southeast League.
It could have been the end of the road for the team’s postseason hopes. Instead, it was just the beginning.
Green Valley closed the season by winning 10 of its last 11 games, earning the Southeast League’s No. 2 seed and a home game for the Sunrise Region tournament, which begins Wednesday at host sites. The Gators (14-12) host Las Vegas High (18-8) at 6:30 p.m.
“We had kind of a crazy start, and I give these kids credit, they hung in there and bought into what we’re trying to do and it worked out for them,” Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis said.
The Gators weren’t being dominated by the competition early. In fact, they led in many of those losses before their opponents rallied for the win. Nine of the team’s 12 losses came by five points or fewer. Two went to overtime.
“We kind of gave games away,” Jarvis said. “Nothing against the teams that won those games, but in those games we were winning by double digits. At that point, you have to learn how to be a winner. It’s a process that a lot of athletes have to go through, and a lot of teams have to go through.”
Senior guard and leading scorer Durrell McDonald, who has committed to DePaul, said the team had to learn to play a full game rather than turn off the intensity once it got a lead.
“We just figured out how to finish out the game instead of going through the motions,” McDonald said. “We learned how to win games now. After losing so many times, we just figured from that moment, we’ve just got to finish the game. We know how to keep the lead and stay focused and disciplined.”
It also took time for the team to get used to playing with McDonald and Devan Kohn. McDonald, who previously played at Del Sol, moved back to the area after playing in Mississippi last season. Kohn,
the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, transferred from Coronado.
“We started bonding more as a team and we finally got our team chemistry on point and started playing as one unit instead of individuals,” said the coach’s son, senior swingman Lorenzo Jarvis, Jr.
“It was a little hard and it took a little time. But once we got it, we felt like we couldn’t be beat.”
The Gators pushed their way into a four-way tie atop the Southeast League, earning the No. 2 seed once the tiebreakers were figured. Senior post player Brandon Hoisington said the close games the team faced in the league only should help in the postseason.
“It was a big confidence builder just to see how tight the league was this year,” Hoisington said. “It was definitely competitive, and it might help give us this extra push in this next game.”
And it appears the Gators are ready to compete for a region title in what should be a wide-open tournament.
“You can’t wake up one day and become a champ,” the elder Jarvis said. “You have to learn how to do it. There’s a process you have to go through, and that’s what makes the journey great.
“If it was easy, everybody would have all these banners on the wall. There’s a reason why you have to go through the whole process, and I think these kids paid their price. They really learned how to play together and how to become winners.”