San Francisco Chronicle

Dougherty Valley peaks going into NCS playoffs

- By Mitch Stephens SBLive senior editor Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.

If the East Bay Athletic League tournament is any indication, the North Coast Section Open Division boys basketball playoffs should be a humdinger.

Five of the six teams selected Sunday in NCS’s top division are from the EBAL, which concluded its tournament the night before with host Dougherty Valley-San Ramon’s thrilling 77-70 win over Granada-Livermore behind a combined 69 points from Connor Sevilla, Ryan Beasley and Blake Hudson.

Two nights earlier, Dougherty Valley pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in recent Bay Area history, fighting back from a 27-point, third-quarter deficit to shock San Ramon Valley 86-83 in the semifinals, thanks to 42 points from Beasley and 29 from Sevilla.

The same night the Wildcats advanced to the finals, Granada pulled out a 71-67 overtime victory at De La Salle-Concord behind 29 points and 13 rebounds from 7-foot post Andrew McKeever, a St. Mary’s College signee. That overshadow­ed a 32-point effort by Spartans sophomore Alec Blair.

It was the third win in three nights for Granada, which knocked off Monte Vista-Danville (65-63) and Dublin (79-69), but eventually ran out of juice midway through the fourth quarter Saturday against The Chronicle’s No. 1 team.

Granada had another huge effort from McKeever (25 points, 16 rebounds) and 6-7 wing Alex Harris (22 points), but Sevilla (six 3-pointers, 25 points), Beasley (24 points, 13 in the fourth quarter) and Hudson (20 points, 14 rebounds) were too skilled and determined.

Dougherty Valley already had clinched the EBAL overall title with the win over San Ramon Valley (based on a point system), but the Wildcats were bent on also celebratin­g the tournament title on their home court. The student body stormed the court and the Wildcats cut down the net after Saturday’s win.

Coach Mike Hansen helped open the school 16 years ago and has been the program’s only head coach. He choked up recalling the team’s 2-23 first season and all the growing pains, ones his own father Tom Hansen had while coaching 21 seasons at Foothill-Pleasanton.

The elder Hansen was the first coach at Foothill starting in the mid-1970s.

“My dad was always my mentor,” Hansen said, adding his father would tell him “how awful it was at the start (at Foothill). They didn’t have a gym and played at the Alameda County Fairground­s. (He’d say,) ‘It’s your first year. Establish a culture. Believe in what you’re doing. Eventually, it will turn.’ And it did. And it has.”

Has it ever. The Wildcats are 77-21 since 2019 and the two seasons before that, they were a combined 38-17.

Fifth-year Granada coach Quaran Johnson has resurrecte­d a once-elite program from the 1990s that has gone 70-26 since 2019. The Matadors led by six in the third quarter and took their last lead with 3:05 left on a tip-in from McKeever. But the constant tough shot-making of Beasley, Sevilla and Hudson was too much. Fatigue perhaps also played a factor.

“We beat some of the best teams in NorCal back-to-backto-back without any rest,” Johnson said. “We came in here and battled our tails off. … Our kids are really resilient. But the gauntlet was pretty heavy this week.”

It will continue Thursday when the Matadors (21-8), the NCS Open No. 4 seed, host Dublin (18-9), and sixth-seed San Ramon Valley (23-6) travels to third-seed Salesian-Richmond (21-7), the lone non-EBAL squad. Salesian has won 14 of 15 — its lone loss to state No. 1 Centennial-Corona 64-52.

Dougherty Valley and second seed De La Salle (20-7) await the winners for semifinal games Feb. 22. That’s almost a twoweek layoff for the Spartans. More NCS: The top Open girls seeds — No. 1 Salesian (23-4) and San Ramon Valley (25-3) — also will have long layoffs waiting for Thursday’s first-round winners.

Fifth seed Acalanes-Lafayette (20-6) will visit No. 4 Carondelet-Concord (21-5) and third seed Cardinal NewmanSant­a Rosa (22-6) hosts No. 6 Heritage-Brentwood (22-4).

It will be quite a reunion for Acalanes coach Margaret Gartner, who stepped down at Carondelet in 2014 after 22 seasons. She boasted a 530-133 record there and won a 2004 Division II state title with the help of future Stanford and WNBA player Jayne Appel. Gartner and current Carondelet coach Kelly Sopak also coach AAU basketball together at Cal Stars.

 ?? Mitch Stephens/SBLive/HNP ?? Blake Hudson is interviewe­d after scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to help Dougherty Valley-San Ramon to a 77-70 defeat of Granada-Livermore in the EBAL tournament title game.
Mitch Stephens/SBLive/HNP Blake Hudson is interviewe­d after scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to help Dougherty Valley-San Ramon to a 77-70 defeat of Granada-Livermore in the EBAL tournament title game.

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