The “I believe that we will win” chants coming from the La Quinta student section early in Thursday night’s second half may have come a bit premature with the Blackhawks trailing at the time, but if nothing else, the students proved they weren’t going to give up.
And neither did their team.
After trailing for much of the second and third quarters on the road against bitter rival Palm Desert — with the Desert Valley League title on the line no less — La Quinta’s post men took over the fourth quarter, breaking open as much as a 10-point lead before settling for a 57-50 victory.
The win clinched La Quinta’s first boys’ basketball DVL title ever.
The La Quinta Blackhawks celebrate after beating rival Palm Desert Aztecs 57-50 and also win the Desert Valley League boys basketball title on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at Palm Desert.
“That was the most important game of our lives,” La Quinta head coach Jeff Hepner said. “That was the first time we’ve had a chance to play for the title on the last night of the season. There wasn’t a big pregame speech.
“It’s history. You’ve got to want it.”
Palm Desert led by as many as seven during the second quarter and went into the locker room ahead 29-25 with a chance to defend last year’s DVL title just 16 minutes away. That lead extended to eight with quick buckets from Anthony Murdica and Alex McGrath.
With the crowd as loud as it was all evening, La Quinta’s Tasaun Thomas knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing, silencing the “air-ball, air-ball” chants that had been ringing in his ear since some early ugly long range jumpers, cutting the deficit to just two.
La Quinta took a couple brief two-point leads, only to have Palm Desert respond and tie on the very next possession. The Aztecs led by two going into the final quarter.
But from there, La Quinta’s size in the post proved to be too much, Palm Desert head coach Jim Serven said. While struggling to keep Jared Broadhead and Kameron Dashner off the boards, the duo also made a few huge blocks down the stretch. They finished with a combined 34 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the game came down to a few key possessions late, which Hepner said leans to La Quinta’s strengths.
“We’re George Foreman, we’re not Ali. You’ve got to play and wear the other team down,” he said. “At some point, them battling you inside is going to catch up with them. We’re a good fourth quarter team.”
Star of the game
Kameron Dashner: The senior battled hard in the paint, often simply working harder to pull down rebounds among a slew of Palm Desert players. He scored a team-high 18 points, including a 3-pointer and helped clinch at least one more home game for his teammates.
Joey Fabela: Despite being on the losing end of things, the Palm Desert star put up a game-high 20 points, including 12 in the first half that helped the Aztecs jump out to a sizable early lead.
Both teams will await their next foes as the CIF Southern Section boys’ basketball brackets will be announced this Sunday at 1 p.m.
La Quinta 57, Palm Desert 50
La Quinta (57)
(FG FT-FTA TP) Tasaun Thomas 2 0-0 5, Travis Hamman 3 0-0 6, Cory Hospedales 2 0-0 4, Charles Hays 2 4-6 8, Kameron Dashner 8 1-6 18. Jared Broadhead 6 4-4 16
Totals 23 9-16 57
Palm Desert (50)
(FG FT-FTA TP) Anthony Murdica 6 1-2 13, Wes Coffey 1 0-0 2, Alex McGrath 3 0-2 6, Joey Fabela 8 3-5 20, Aaron Cordero 2 0-2 5, Remi DeGrat 2 0-0 4
Totals 22 4-11 50
Visiting 11 14 14 18
Home 12 17 12 9
3-point field goals – La Quinta — 2 (Tasaun Thomas 1, Kameron Dashner 1), Palm Desert — 2 (Joey Fabela 1, Aaron Cordero 1)