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Antelope Valley Keeps Head Above Water

Men: A year after being sunk by officials' call, Marauders take extra step to reach tournament.

March 13, 1997|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN JOSE — They had to live with the memory for one year, wondering if they would get another chance.

When that opportunity came Saturday night, the Antelope Valley College men's basketball team grabbed it like a drowning man would a life preserver.

There was no going under this time.

"[Michael] Hamelin, [Shaun] Murray and [Jonathan] George, there's no way they should have had to deal with this twice," Coach Newton Chelette said.

They didn't. But was it ever close.

Last March, Antelope Valley came within an instant of reaching the state championships when Hamelin's 80-foot basket as time ran out in regulation was disallowed by officials, sending the third-round Southern California Regional game against Santa Monica into overtime tied, 74-74.

The Marauders, who argue that films of the game show Hamelin getting off the shot before the buzzer, lost in overtime, 85-81.

On Saturday, Murray tipped in a shot with five seconds to play in overtime to beat Chaffey, 102-101, in a regional clincher and send the Marauders to the state championships for the first time since 1964.

Antelope Valley (30-4), ranked No. 2 in the state, meets Diablo Valley (31-5) in a quarterfinal game today at 2 p.m. at San Jose State. The semifinals are Friday and the final is Saturday.

Chelette, who has a 197-63 record in eight seasons with the Marauders and would reach 200 victories if his team wins the eight-team tournament, remains euphoric about the Chaffey game.

"For me, personally, it's probably the greatest win of my coaching career for what it did for my players," he said.

Not that he wouldn't mind more memorable victories this weekend, perhaps starting with Diablo Valley, the No. 3-seeded team from the north.

"It's a very good matchup for us," Chelette said. "Our guards are a little bigger than theirs. . . . They really try to control the tempo."

Hamelin, Foothill Conference Northern Division player of the year, averages 14.8 points per game. John Burrell is at 21.0 points and George averages 16.1 points and 8.4 rebounds.

They form the nucleus of a team Chelette called potentially his best before the season started. It has lived up to the coach's expectations.

"We've had more talented teams but I don't know that we've ever had a team that played together like this team," Chelette said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

JC Men's Basketball State Tournament

At San Jose State

All Times Pacific

First Round--Today

* Antelope Valley (30-4) vs. Diablo Valley (31-5), 2 p.m.

* Cuesta (32-5) vs. Fresno (30-3), 4 p.m.

* Los Angeles City (27-6) vs. Skyline (26-7), 6 p.m.

* Southwestern (24-11) vs. San Jose (30-4), 8 p.m.

Semifinals--Friday

* Los Angeles City-Skyline winner vs. Cuesta-Fresno winner, 6:30 p.m.

* Antelope Valley-Diablo Valley winner vs. Southwestern-San Jose winner, 8:30 p.m.

Championship--Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

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