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St. Bernard Loses on a Late Tip-In


SACRAMENTO — Chrismen Oliver led Playa del Rey St. Bernard to the brink of its first boys' state basketball championship Friday.

The 5-foot-9 point guard played a near-flawless game against Mill Valley Tamalpais and directed a comeback that gave the undersized, ultra-quick Vikings a one-point lead with 10 seconds left in the Division IV final at Arco Arena.

But Oliver, and just about every player from both teams, appeared stunned a full 15 minutes after Tamalpais center Jair Veldhuis tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer to give Tamalpais a 61-60 victory in one of the most dramatic finishes in state-final history.

"They seemed like they were rushing [on the last possession]," said Oliver, who scored 19 points. "We got on their shooter and they just got the tip. I still can't believe it."

Jeremy White took the off-balance 15-foot jumper from the baseline that the 6-10 Veldhuis put back for the game-winner from high above the rim.

Veldhuis' basket provided Tamalpais (33-2) its only points of the final 3 minutes 15 seconds.

Brandon Williams scored a game-high 25 points for St. Bernard (26-8).

"Basically, I just found myself in good position to get the ball," said Veldhuis, a native of the Netherlands who attended Tamalpais last season but did not play while establishing U.S. residency. "It was a matter of being in the right spot at the right time."

St. Bernard (26-8), with no player taller than 6-4, came back several times against a Tamalpais team that featured Veldhuis and no starters shorter than 6-3.

Oliver, who scored 19 points, and fellow senior guard Brandon Williams, who had 25, brought the Vikings to within 59-58 with 1:15 left.

Williams launched an air-ball on an off-balance 23-footer from the left wing with 10 seconds left that St. Bernard forward Geoffrey Hooker caught in mid-air and banked in while falling on his back to give the Vikings the lead.

Tamalpais (33-2) did not hesitate.

Senior guard Bryan Defares, also from Holland, brought the ball upcourt and passed to White, who started the final sequence that Veldhuis punctuated with his tip-in.

Defares had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Michael Tabb scored 17 points for Tamalpais.

Veldhuis finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

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