Sisyphus has nothing on the College of the Canyons men's basketball team.
Sisyphus, the character in Greek mythology whose punishment in Hades was for eternity to roll a rock up a hill and then watch it roll back down, could have sympathized with a Canyons squad that made a dogged comeback but saw its effort go for naught when Valley's Rick Garrick made a three-point shot in the waning seconds.
Canyons trailed by as many as 15 points midway through the second half but lost, 87-86, when a closely guarded Garrick buried his shot with five seconds remaining Wednesday night in the Western State Conference Southern Division opener at Valley.
"It's kind of disappointing," Canyons Coach Lee Smelser said. "We've had so many close ones without getting over the hump."
Sisyphus pushed a rock, but Canyons (10-12) was unable to stop Garrick from shooting the rock.
"We play a lot of tough teams really close, but we can't seem to put them away," said Canyons' Nick Sanderson, who scored a game-high 25 points and put Canyons ahead, 86-84, on a fall-away jump shot with 34 seconds remaining. "We get them right to the edge, and we can't push them off the cliff."
Valley (12-10) had planned for Tory Stephens to shoot on the final possession, but the broken play broke Canyons' back.
"I wasn't nervous," Garrick said. "If I get an open shot I can hit most of them. I like playing in the clutch."
There would have been no need for Garrick to perform in the clutch had Canyons not put together a game comeback.
Canyons trailed, 66-51, with 12 minutes and 50 seconds remaining when it made its move. With Chris Dyer directing the offense, Canyons began to chip away with layups and free throws.
Canyons went on a 13-2 run to make it 68-64 and finally knotted the score, 77-77, with 3:53 to play. Sanderson made a three-point basket to make the score 84-84 at the 1:33 mark and his baseline jump shot gave Canyons an 86-84 lead before Garrick won it for Valley.
"We're probably pretty even," Valley Coach Jim Stephens said. "You're at home so you've got to win these."
Garrick scored 22 to lead Valley. Russell Baldwin added 19, and Stephens and Art Kirksey scored 18 apiece.
Reggie Bell, with 14 points, and David Langley, with 12, were Canyons' only other double-figure scorers.