Wanstall’s jumper lifts Jags to win

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In a game obviously dominated by defense, Quentin Wanstall’s 12-foot shot with three seconds left was the offensive punch that Valencia needed to get a thrilling District 6-4A boys basketball win over Miyamura on Saturday night, 34-32.

Valencia (5-13 overall, 1-1 in District 6-4A after Saturday) was set to host Grants (6-11, 1-1) on Tuesday in a game after News-Bulletin press time.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia’s Garrett Gibson shoots over Jared Meese of Miyamura in Saturday’s game. VHS got a late basket from Quentin Wanstall and held on to win, 34-32, and will host Belen at 7 p.m., Friday.

County rival Belen (6-9, 1-1) visits on Saturday night in a game set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Valencia coach Ezau Rios noted that the whole season has been preparation for the quick turn around Tuesday for the middle of a three-game, six-day run.

“The whole month of December, we had four games in a week, three games in a week. It helped to prepare us for this moment,” said Rios.

He also said that the Jags could not have done it without the fans’ support.

“I want to say thanks to all of the fans. The gym was loud and it was great,” said Rios. “They have been working hard and it was nice to see the boys get some reward for all of the hard work they have been putting in.”

It was never louder than when Wanstall floated in the air and lifted a shot that hit the back of the iron and then just rolled into the basket.

Wanstall described the winning shot.

“I looked up and there was just 10 seconds left, so I took the guy off the dribble and it was wide open,” the sophomore point guard said. “I just put the shot up. I was confident it would go in. I don’t know, I just took the shot.”

The game was close all night, as neither team had more than a five-point lead, but Miyamura had the lead most of the night.

Valencia got a boost in the fourth quarter from Garrett Gibson, who scored all seven of his points in the final frame.

The Jag post player was called for two fouls in the two minutes of the game and sat for the rest of the half. He picked up a quick foul in the third quarter and sat again.

Even though he was whistled for his fourth foul in the fourth quarter, it didn’t stop the sophomore from getting a key block as Miyamura’s Jared Meese drove to the hoop with 22 seconds left in a 32-all tie.

“It is big,” said Gibson. “We all knew that we had to win if we were going to make a state run.”

He decided to give it his all, in spite of the foul situation.

“I was in foul trouble right away in the fourth quarter,” Gibson said. “I was still playing aggressive. I was not going to lower my intensity level just because I had four fouls.”

Valencia built the biggest lead of the game on Dominic Zamora’s 3-pointer, followed by a Gibson rebound and putback to make it 31-26.

Zamora led the Jag scoring with 14 points, including three treys. Gabe Urtiaga hit the only other Jag 3-pointer on a 30-foot buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter that ripped the net to give Valencia a 25-24 lead.

“The boys executed what we needed to do. The boys did it without me telling them,” said Rios. “We finally got them out of that 2-3 zone that had caused us such trouble.”


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.