DANVILLE -- A season that was nearly derailed by some early turmoil will continue for at least one more game after the McClymonds High boys basketball team beat host San Ramon Valley 57-48 in Saturday's Northern California Division I regional quarterfinals.
An early deficit against the Wolves was nothing the Warriors couldn't handle. After all, they had already overcome a midseason coaching change and moved on from several ugly nonleague losses.
McClymonds will return to Danville for Tuesday's semifinals, putting its 12-game winning streak on the line, against No. 1 seeded Monte Vista.
Against San Ramon Valley (24-6), the Warriors proved they could handle adversity.
The Wolves shot out to a 11-2 lead before McClymonds (22-8) upped its defensive intensity, surging ahead early in the second quarter and taking the lead for good late in the third period.
"When I saw (SRV's early) lead, I laughed," said McClymonds coach Edgar Jackson, who took over the team seven games into the season when the previous head coach was let go by the school. "We've been down this road. All we had to do was turn up our defense."
Deion Ellis, the Oakland Athletic League MVP and Jackson's son, scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead McClymonds. When he picked up his fourth foul with 3:47 left in the third quarter, Mike Walker took charge on offense, scoring eight points in the period to help hold off San Ramon Valley.
"Our key was playing team ball and our defense," Ellis said. "We were shorter than their guys and they had a lights-out shooter. We did our homework on the game and knew defense and boxing out was going to help us get the 'W'."
McClymonds also thrived -- somewhat unexpectedly — at the free throw line, connecting on 18 of 20 attempts in the tightly-officiated contest compared to San Ramon Valley's 16 of 30 effort.
"This was our best free throw shooting performance of the year, by far," Jackson said. "We usually don't knock them down like that."
Jerry Karczewski scored 18 points for San Ramon Valley and his 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter got the Wolves as close as 41-40. But McClymonds answered with a 6-0 run, then used a couple key steals and clutch free throws in the closing minutes to hold on.
McClymonds 57, San Ramon Valley 48
Walker 4 2-2 10, Spivey 1 2-3 4, Lockett 1 0-0 2, Nelson 3 0-0 7, Ellis 6 6-7 18, Stanley 1 0-0 3, Shabazz 1 6-6 8, Clark 1 2-2 5. Totals 18 18-20 57.
San Ramon Valley (24-6)
Karczewski 5 5-7 18, Smith 0 1-3 1, A. Henderson 1 0-0 3, Ontiveros 0 2-4 2, Alexander 0 1-2 1, Gunn 6 2-4 14, Spackman 0 3-4 3, Polosky 2 2-6 6. Totals 14 16-30 48.
McClymonds 8 16 15 18-- 57
San Ramon Valley 11 10 13 14-- 48
3-point goals: Nelson, Stanley, Clark; Karczewski 3, Henderson. Fouled out: Sanford, Smith. Highlights: M -- Ellis 7 rebounds; Walker 6 rebounds. SRV -- Polosky 6 rebounds, 4 blocks; Gunn 9 rebounds.