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Vikings beat buzzer, knock off No. 1 seed Fairfield

Oakmont now eyes Woodcreek in section final
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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They reviewed the video just to be sure, but J.T. Adenrele’s tip-in just beat the buzzer Thursday night to lift the Oakmont High boys basketball team past Fairfield. The Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal between the fourth-seeded Vikings and No. 1 Fairfield was tight from start to finish before the 6-foot-6 junior tapped home a missed shot just in time to deliver a 56-54 Viking victory. Just seconds before, 10 ticks from the horn, Fairfield’s Tramayne Bondurant finished off a sensational 27 point night with his 12th point of the fourth period on a driving lay-up that tied the score at 54-54. Eschewing the timeout, Oakmont ran the ball into the front court, and after a couple of bobbles, got the ball up on the rim. Point guard Fred Mobley lofted a fade-away from the baseline that did not find twine, but 6-3 guard Alex Ford got off a follow-up that bounced off the rim. Just when it looked like overtime was on the horizon, there was the high-flying Adenrele at the front of the rim to touch the ball into the net for the game-winner. The officials ruled that the shot was good, but then huddled and took advantage of the technology available because of the game’s venue, Arco Arena. After a review of the replay, it was confirmed that the shot was good and the Vikings were winners. “I thought about the timeout there,” said Oakmont coach Rick Campbell. “We decided to let it run and either win it or go to overtime. We did not want to give them a chance to set their defense and we liked our chances running it at them.” It was another battle for survival for the Vikings, who once again had to withstand foul trouble against a quality opponent. Adenrele picked up two quick ones and sat out half of the initial stanza and the entire second quarter. More troubling for Campbell came when Mobley, the primary ball handler for Oakmont, picked up his third with four minutes still left in the first half. The result was more pressure on steady 6-8 center Tony Gill, Ford and an inexperienced Oakmont bench. Gill scored seven points in the first quarter to help his team hold its own against the Falcons opening surge. Fairfield led by 16-12 after one, but with Adenrele and Mobley spending time on the bench in the second, the Vikings managed to hold Fairfield to just nine second quarter points as Oakmont took a 26-25 lead into the break. Reserve point guard Cholo Serrano, little used for much of the year, came up big in relief of Mobley. In addition to supplying some much-needed ball handling, he also hit a couple of critical baskets. Mobley sat the first three minutes of the second half and then picked up his fourth 90 seconds after coming back on the floor, sending him back out until the fourth period. “It’s hard for us when Fred is not out there,” Ford said. “Cholo really stepped up for us in helping us get the ball up. Tony (Gill) also does a nice job coming back to help.” The two squads banged at each other the entire second half as Fairfield was able to get out to as much as a four-point lead, but neither squad established any separation. Other than Bondurant, the only real offensive threat for the Falcons after the break came from center John Ocon, who did a nice job on the offensive glass, turning three caroms at that end into six second half points. At the other end, it was largely about Gill. “We have wanted this all year,” Gill said. “They were a good team, but we have worked hard for this all year long and we were not going down.” “Tony is just so good,” Campbell said. “He is just willing us through this. We have had a lot of good posts through the years at Oakmont, but he is certainly right up there as one of the best. He is such a cerebral player.” Once they re-entered the game, both Mobley and Adenrele had much input into the final outcome as well. Mobley scored seven huge points on a pair of drives and a 3-pointer in the fourth, and Adenrele came up big at the free throw line in addition to the play that delivered ultimate victory. Three huge steals by the athletic forward highlighted the fourth quarter defense, while he and Gill were relentless on the offensive window, with a combined seven offensive boards in the fourth quarter alone. The Vikings were down 50-49 with 42 seconds remaining when Gill stared down an open three-point shot. “I was yelling at him to go ahead,” Campbell said, “ but he did not need to hear from me. He was already going to shoot it.” The center’s 3-pointer splashed the twine and put the game into a good place for Oakmont, up two inside of one minute to play. After Bondurant slashed his way to the rim to tie the game again, Adenrele was fouled while receiving the in-bounds pass. The junior calmly delivered both ends of the one-and-one to put Oakmont back on top by a deuce. After Bondurant scored again, the stage was set for the game-winning drama and an Oakmont trip to face cross-town rival Woodcreek in the section title game. “We did not know much about Fairfield coming in,” Ford said. “We just come out and play as hard as we can every game, no matter who we are playing.” Gill scored 20 points and snared 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings, with Mobley scoring 12 and Adenrele adding 11 points. The vaunted interior passing game of the Vikings was in full view once again, as Gill and Nathaniel Grady each dished out three assists while Adenrele had two. Three times already this season, Oakmont (22-6) has faced its nemesis, Woodcreek (25-5), and come up on the short end, including a blowout loss on its home court the last time it saw the Timberwolves. To a man, the Vikings are not concerned about those games as they look ahead to Saturday night. “We are not looking back at all,” Campbell said. “All of that is in the past. The way we have been playing and the confidence we have right now has us right where we want to be. We wanted to get here and get another shot at them. We are the No. 4 seed and they are No. 2 so we just need to come out and play. There’s no pressure on us.” Gill agrees that his team’s confidence level will be a key difference this time around. “The difference this time is we have a bunch of guys believing we can win this thing,” Gill said. “We want this.” The D-II section title game tips at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Arco Arena.