When Mountain View High’s Jailen Daniel-Dalton left the court writhing in pain, it appeared that the Spartans’ chances of winning Saturday’s Central Coast Section Division I boys basketball playoff game took a hit as well.
Trailing host Homestead 48-46 with 1:18 left in overtime, Mountain View could no longer lean on senior Daniel-Dalton, who scored a game-high 17 points before reaggravating a shoulder injury.
But when play resumed, the Spartans turned to their next-best player, Ryan Bahar, and he made what coach Kevin Mack called “probably the biggest shot of the year.” The junior buried a 3 from the top of the key that put his team ahead with 1:05 to go, lifting Mountain View to a 54-48 second-round win.
“Coach drew up a play for me, and he’s done it before – he puts his trust in me,” said Bahar, who added a pair of game-sealing free throws with 17 seconds left to finish with 15 points. “I just try to deliver when he needs it.”
Mack noted that it wasn’t the first time his 6-foot-2 forward has come through in the clutch. He hit two game-winners during the regular season.
“Big-time player makes big-time shots,” Mack said.
Prior to that 3, the ninth-seeded Spartans had missed six straight shots and last scored on Daniel-Dalton’s putback with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter to go up 46-45.
Alex Harris split free throws on the Mustangs’ next possession to even the score. It would remain that way until overtime, as Mountain View misfired on a pair of 3-point attempts in the final minute of the fourth and No. 8 Homestead failed to convert a midrange jumper in between.
The Mustangs recaptured the lead – their first since the 3:22 mark of the fourth – on Kai Levenson’s jump shot on the first possession of the four-minute overtime. They missed their final eight shots of the period.
“Defensively we made some stops, and that’s been our staple all year – defense,” Mack said.
One of the Spartans’ struggles this season has been turnovers, and that plagued them Saturday. Mountain View committed 21 turnovers, several of them unforced.
“We turned the ball over a lot tonight,” Mack said. “The last two games where we beat Los Altos (52-44 in the Feb. 18 league finale) and won our first game in the playoffs (69-46 Friday over Silver Creek), we took care of the ball. Tonight we didn’t, but our guys played hard and they played tough – and we persevered.”
Daniel-Dalton exemplified that toughness, playing the game with a brace on an injured right shoulder that’s given him problems all season. The 6-foot-4 forward scored eight points in the third quarter – including three straight baskets from inside the paint early in the period. Bahar scored Mountain View’s next basket on a drive to the hoop after rebounding his own miss to give his team its biggest lead of regulation at 33-27.
Homestead rallied to take the lead by the end of the third, but Bahar made a floater and free throw early in the fourth to put the Spartans up 42-40. Twelve of his points came after halftime.
Mack didn’t expect to have Daniel-Dalton back for Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at No. 1 Palo Alto (20-4), but Bahar was confident that other Spartans would step up in his stead.
“Our motto all year has just been, ‘Next man up,’” he said. “We’ve had injuries all year, so next man up.”
The winner of Tuesday’s game, played after the Town Crier’s press deadline, advanced to Thursday’s semifinals.