Skip to main content

San Ramon Valley gets final punch, beats Mitty in NorCal Division 1 semifinal boys basketball battle

Wolves score game's final eight points to advance to Tuesday's championship against a familiar foe

DANVILLE, CALIFORNIA — n a seesaw affair that took the phrase “game of runs” to a new extreme, San Ramon Valley landed the final punch.

The host Wolves scored the final eight points to beat Mitty 52-49 in Saturday night’s Northern California Division I Semifinal, highlighted by Jack Moxley’s go-ahead layup with 33 seconds left.

Just one second earlier and the ball underneath the basket after a Monarchs foul, second-seeded San Ramon Valley (28-7) could have held for the final shot. 

But head coach Brian Botteen chose to go with a quick inbound play, and Matthew Diekmann found Moxley open under the basket.

“In a lot of games, we held for the last shot,” head coach Brian Botteen said. “This game felt like we might need another possession, so we wanted to get a quick one.”

Third-seeded Mitty (23-8) turned to San Diego commit Gavin Ripp to try to retake the lead, but his shot in the key didn’t fall. 

Luke Isaak made two free throws with 12 seconds left, and the visitors only mustered an airballed free throw on their final possession. The Wolves now play East Bay Athletic League rival and defending NorCal D1 champion Granada in Tuesday's 7 p.m. championship game with the winner advancing to the state finals at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. 

Granada surprised home and top seed Clovis West, 70-53, on Saturday. 

“This was a great heavyweight matchup where everyone was staying toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring,” Botteen said. “It sucked that someone was gonna lose this game. Both teams literally left it all on the court. I can’t say enough about them and their team.“

Not only did the Wolves fight back from a five-point deficit in the final 2:47, they trailed 13-0 to start the game, the sort of run that could have taken the life out of the home crowd. 

But a Moxley layup, Seamus Deely block and Diekmann dunk woke up the student section, and SRV rallied to score the final 11 of the first quarter and tie the game at 13 early in the second.

The teams continued trading haymakers in the second quarter, with Mitty going on a 7-0 run and the Wolves firing back with the next eight points to take their first lead at 23-22 on a Mason Thomas 3-pointer. 

The Monarchs closed the first half on a 7-2 surge to go into the break up by four, and SRV answered by scoring the first seven of the third to take a 32-29 lead on Elliot Conley’s 3-pointer. Moments earlier, Conley drew a charge for Ripp’s fourth foul.

“We had to go a little bit smaller,” said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy. “We had to mix up our different actions (with Ripp on the bench) and tried to go with a little bit of zone.”

Ripp scored 11 points, all in the first half. Sophomore Caeden Hutcherson and UC Riverside commit Tyler Jones shared high honors for the Monarchs with 16 points apiece.

“Those guys have been through so many wars since their sophomore year,” Kennedy said of his senior class, led by Jones, Ripp and Nathan Noronha.

While Saturday marked the final high school games for a decorated group, Hutcherson showed that the Monarchs have plenty to be excited about in the coming years. 

He scored eight during the 11-0 run to put Mitty up 40-32 while the hosts went scoreless for nearly four minutes, finally breaking the drought on Isaak’s 3-pointer with 1:14 left in the third.

“We did a good job getting the ball to Seamus in the post, and he was able to find me on some of those,” said Isaak. “We also did a great job on the drive-and-kick and got the opportunity to drive past closeouts.”

Luke Isaak, show here at The Damien Classic in December, scored a game-high 17 points on Saturday.

Luke Isaak, show here at The Damien Classic in December, scored a game-high 17 points on Saturday.

Isaak led all players with 17 points and seven rebounds while Deely scored 10 and locked horns with Ripp in the post. 

But it was Moxley who rose to the occasion in the fourth. He sustained a dislocated knee in early January that Botteen feared would end the senior’s season.

“I told him in the locker room, ‘six weeks ago, we thought your career was over,’” Botteen said.

Moxley cut the lead to 42-37 off a backdoor from Diekmann to answer Jones’ steal and layup, and he bounced back after missing an open layup to score off one of Deely’s five assists to make it a 47-44 game with just over three minutes left.

Just as Moxley didn’t let the missed layup deter him, Isaak didn’t let an airball stop him.

His game-tying 3-point attempt that missed badly short landed right in Moxley’s hands, and Isaak cut to the basket to make it a one-point affair with 1:21 to go.

“They move on. They have a short term memory,” Botteen said of his team’s ability to bounce back from misses. “That’s a good thing and that’s a bad thing, but I like that about them.”

Mitty turned it over on the next possession, overthrowing a lob intended to find Ripp underneath, and Isaak was fouled when Moxley tried to find him underneath with the shot clock winding down.

West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Gavin Ripp, shown here in the CCS Open title game, had 11 first-half points on Saturday. 

West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Gavin Ripp, shown here in the CCS Open title game, had 11 first-half points on Saturday. 

That set up Moxley’s go-ahead basket, Isaak’s free throws to pad the lead and the postgame celebration—one that didn’t include a full court storming. 

SRV's administration managed to keep the students in the stands, though they were allowed to form a mosh pit with the team after postgame handshakes.

“Big shoutout to the community of Danville tonight,” said Deely, the co-MVP of the EBAL and SRV’s beacon of leadership. “This place was sold out for a game that, you know, nobody really has a connection to Mitty or anything. It’s not a league game. But it was loud, it was rockin’, and they helped us get this win. Man, it feels good.”

The Wolves will get another game in front of their fans, though it won’t quite be at home. Tuesday’s NorCal final will be played at Dublin High, located right between the two schools, to accommodate a larger crowd.

SRV has played the Matadors three times this season, winning the past two meetings. Granada won a 60-58 league contest on Jan. 25 that ended with a court storming and a bitter taste in the Wolves’ mouths after a postgame altercation involving their players and Granada’s student section. 

The Wolves returned to the scene and handed the Matadors an 80-56 beatdown on Feb. 8 in an EBAL playoff semifinal, then beat them again at home a week later, 77-68, in a game that Granada star NaVaughn Long missed with a shoulder injury. 

Long has returned from the injury for the state tournament and the Matadors have responded with wins over Inderkum and St. Ignatius before Saturday's impressive win in Fresno.