by Bill Turner
Hidden Valley continued its season of dreams Tuesday night with a heart-stopping 62-57 overtime win over Liberty-Bealeton of Northern Virginia at the VCU Siegel Center to advance to Saturday night’s VSHL Division 4 final.
The Titans will play the winner of Wednesday’s winner between River Ridge foe Christiansburg and Potomac Falls in the final, set for 9:00 p.m. at the Siegel Center in Richmond.
For Hidden Valley, this is uncharted territory since three previous Titan teams have made it to the semifinals in Richmond, only to fall short. Once again, as has been the case in each Hidden Valley stretch-run victory this season, a player has come off the bench to make a key contribution in the clutch. Tuesday night it was both Dylan Hodson and Daniel Rowe that keyed the demise of Liberty-Bealeton.
Hidden Valley jumped out to a 18-11 lead after one quarter mostly on the shoulders of Carter Wright and Taylor Walker, who scored 7 and 5 points respectively in the opening frame. The Titans led 32-24 at the half.
The second half saw Liberty-Bealeton chip away at the Hidden Valley advantage as the Eagles continually used their speed to attack the basket. The Titans held a nine point lead with just over two minutes to go in the third before the Eagles went on a run to close to 44-40 entering the fourth quarter.
Liberty-Bealeton scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game with 7:31 left and the game was on. The game stayed close the rest of the fourth before the Eagle’s Ryan Ramirez scored on a layup with 27 seconds left that sent the game into overtime. Carter Wright missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
In overtime, Hidden Valley spread the court, continually looking for an open break. At the other end, Liberty Bealeton forced the action, but couldn’t get anything to fall. Hidden Valley shut out the Eagles 5-0 in the extra period, with all points coming from the free throw line, four from Hodson and the other from Titan leading scorer Carter Wright who finished with a game-high 20 points. Hodson added 13 and Rowe chipped in 8, all at crucial moments.
“I am so proud of these kids, “Hidden Valley head coach Troy Wells said in the media room after the game. “At Christmas, we weren’t very good. They’ve come a long way. Now we believe in each other. Dylan, Daniel and Dee Fletcher have been big for us off the bench.”
“I’m speechless on being in the state championship final,” Wright noted. Nothing was more shocking than a late fourth quarter three-point shot by Liberty’s Preston Isner that spun down the rim like water in a drain, only to somehow reverse its fall and come back out. “My heart completely stopped,” Wright added. ” I swore it was in. Then I turned around and the ball was out.”
Hidden Valley will have no cakewalk, irregardless of their finals opponent. Christiansburg goes into their semifinal 25-1, while defending state champion Potomac Falls stands at 28-1.