Two free throws from Dexter Akanno had Valencia High up by one with six seconds to play and the home crowd at Valencia High going wild.
With no timeouts left for Golden Valley, Richard Kawakami took the ball the length of the court and hit the game-winning layup as the final buzzer sounded. While Kawakami was swarmed by Grizzlies fans, Vikings fans stood stunned.
This was the scene as Golden Valley defeated Valencia 56-55 after trailing by 10 to start the fourth quarter.
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“You trust your guys,” said Golden Valley coach Larry Keys, whose team improved to 8-9 overall and 2-0 in the Foothill League. “We knew Richard would get a great shot for us or set up someone for a great shot.”
Kawakami had 18 points for the night and closed the game in heroic fashion, but it was the fourth quarter play of teammate Tahj Thompson that set the stage for the stunning finish. Playing in his first-ever varsity game, Thompson hit four 3-pointers as part of 14 points in the fourth.
“Thompson was big for us, and coming down on the final possession, I just wanted to close the game,” Kawakami said.
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Valencia’s Jayden Trower took a hard fall to start the third quarter, but returned in the same frame to collect four points off of two offensive rebounds. His contributions had the Vikings (8-9, 1-1) up 42-32 to start the final quarter.
Zach Hawkins’ five first-quarter points helped Valencia get off on the right foot, as it led 13-12 after the opening quarter.
A 10-3 run to start the second quarter, aided by the scoring output of Ben Grant, carried Valencia to a 32-22 halftime lead.
The Vikings will take on Chatsworth High School on Saturday as part of the COC Showcase before traveling to Canyon High School on Tuesday.
Golden Valley faces University High School at the COC Showcase, and looks to continue their hot start when it travels to Saugus on Tuesday.