Spring Valley opened the Class 4A state basketball playoffs with a tense 60-57 win against visiting Northwestern on Wednesday.
The 10th-ranked Vikings (17-9) will have an unexpected second-round home game on Saturday, thanks to Laurens’ first-round upset of fourth-ranked Dorman. No matter the opponent or the venue, Spring Valley’s goal is to advance to the third round of postseason play for the first time since 1991.
Two free throws by sophomore guard Perry Dozier Jr. with 9 seconds remaining set the final score. A game-tying 3-point attempt by Northwestern’s LaThomas Long was off the mark as the final horn sounded.
It was a fitting end to a frantic second half that produced six ties and eight lead changes.
“We were so nervous early in the game, and I think that gave (Northwestern) some life. But we got past it and played pretty well in the second half,” Spring Valley coach Perry Dozier said. “We put it together at times, but we’re going to have to keep it together longer. We’re at the point in the season where we can’t afford to keep expending so much energy making up for mistakes. Kids are kids, but at some point, being so up and down is going to cost us.”
Both teams had shooting issues. Spring Valley shot 32 percent (21-for-65) from the field, while the Trojans doomed their upset bid with a 15-for-31 performance (48 percent) at the free throw line.
Northwestern cashed in its first two free throw chances in the fourth quarter but went 3-of-9 the rest of the way, including 2-of-6 in the final 59 seconds.
“Our guys played hard, but we didn’t adapt well to the physicality of the game,” Trojans coach Mike Gossett said. “And of course it’s hard to get over going 15-for-31 at the line. It’s been a real problem for us all season.”
Viking stars Dozier and Dominique Taylor carried the scoring load, posting 23 and 22 points, respectively, but there were big contributions down the stretch from other sources.
Sophomore Jalon Williams scored on a turnaround in the low post to tie the score at 55 and wipe out Spring Valley’s last deficit of the night with 3:36 to go. Freshman forward Jordan Bruner scored one point, but his block led to a breakaway for Taylor and a 53-51 lead with 3:18 remaining.
Bruner later made a slick baseline pass to set up a score by Jabari Johnson that put the Vikings in front for good at 55-53 with 35 seconds left.
Mustafia Love led Northwestern (12-14) with 16 points. Love scored 13.