HAZELTON — Mark the calendar for Feb. 4.
That’s when Valley and Declo’s boys basketball teams meet for the rematch in Declo. If it’s anything like Friday’s double-overtime thriller, don’t bother bringing a seat because you won’t need it. Skip the popcorn and soda because you might spill it.
“I lost more hair tonight,” the bald-headed coach Val Christensen said after his Declo squad survived a 66-63 Canyon Conference road win.
Ranked second in the state media poll, Declo needed every second of the extra sessions to hold off No. 5-ranked Valley — and even that almost wasn’t enough.
Declo had the ball with a chance to win in both regulation and the first overtime, but Valley’s defense locked down. Doug Elorrieta stole the ball before the Hornets could get a shot off in regulation, and then the Viking guards pressed the perimeter to limit Declo to a desperation 30-footer at the first OT buzzer.
“It was exciting at times, skittish at other times. It got a little crazy here and there, but that’s basketball,” said Declo senior point guard Zac Mangum, who had 17 points, four assists and five steals. “We just didn’t run our play. Second overtime, we came out and did exactly what coach wanted us to do and we won.”
Declo finally made separation with three key plays in the second overtime. Mangum scored a layup on a nice fast-break bounce pass from Stegan Garner, Kyle Heward scored on an inside post move, and then Hayden Hanson notched a three-point play.
But not even a nine-point lead with 90 seconds remaining was safe.
With full court defense and wise clock management, Valley pulled to within three with 33 seconds left. Elorrieta made another steal, but Valley’s 3-point attempt on the resulting possession was off the mark and Declo rebounded to seal the win.
“I’ll tell you what, Valley played an outstanding game, there’s no doubt about it,” Christensen said. “I can’t say enough about the kids. Honestly, we’ve been struggling for a couple games and I felt like we were going to be on our way back, things are looking good. … We did go brain-dead a few times. When we had a nine-point lead, it should have been over.”
Two players for each team achieved double-doubles.
Hanson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Heward scored 10 points with 10 boards for the Hornets, who improved to 9-2 overall and 3-0 in Canyon Conference play.
Cole Lickley scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Elorrieta had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Vikings, which fell to 8-3 overall and 1-1 in conference.
“Valley’s always good, no matter who is here,” Mangum said. “Their coach does a fantastic job and we’re always expecting a dogfight when we play Valley.”
Declo 66, Valley 63, 2 OT
Declo 13 8 16 12 4 13 —66
Valley 8 14 13 14 4 10 —63
Mangum 17, Hanson 14, Page 9, Moore 15, Garner 1, Heward 10. Totals 23 15-22 66.
Lickley 15, Henry 2, Mussmann 6, Taylor 13, Nelson 15, Waters 2, Elorrieta 10. Totals 23 11-18 63.
3-point goals: Declo 5 (Mangum 3, Hanson, Page), Valley 6 (Mussmann, Taylor 2, Nelson 3). Total fouls: Declo 17, Valley 15. Fouled out: Declo, Gardner; Valley, Mussmann.