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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Berry's Shot Leaves Sour Taste for Taft

Boys' basketball: He hits 35-footer at the buzzer and Chatsworth takes sole possession of West Valley League lead, 77-74.

February 03, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — With fans on their feet and a league championship at stake, Shayne Berry of Chatsworth High pulled up and sank a 35-foot shot as time expired Friday night, giving the Chancellors a 77-74 victory over Taft.

For most players, a 35-foot shot would be considered a prayer. Not Berry. From the moment he released the ball, he knew it was going in.

Only two days earlier, he banked in a three-pointer with two seconds left to defeat Granada Hills.

"I told them, 'Give me the ball,' " Berry said. "It was designed for me to shoot it wherever I could get the ball. I practice that shot in the gym from 30 to 35 feet. This is what basketball is all about--fun, close games with a big crowd."

Chatsworth (16-7, 7-1 in league play) took sole possession of first place in the West Valley League and is on the verge of pulling off the rare feat of going from last place to first in one year.

Chatsworth was 1-9 in league play last season but only has to defeat El Camino Real and Birmingham to win the title.

"Oh my God, that kills us," said dejected Taft guard Mustafa Asghari. "We played our hearts out. That was a great shot. I don't know how he made it."

Berry, who finished with 30 points, struggled in the third quarter, missing seven of eight shots. Like the true gunner he is, the misses didn't deter him.

"I never lose confidence," he said. "My shot kept rolling in and out, so I knew sooner or later, I was going to hit."

Berry scored 14 points during a hectic fourth quarter.

Taft (17-6, 6-2) took a 74-70 lead with 1:25 left on a basket by Melvin Robbins. Berry scored with 1:16 left, then Rashaun Davis' tip-in with 55 seconds left tied the game.

Steve Smith of Taft missed a jumper with 19 seconds left, and Berry got the rebound. The game was stopped with 7.9 seconds remaining because the 35-second buzzer malfunctioned.

Chatsworth inbounded the ball to Berry at half-court. He looked up at the scoreboard to see the seconds ticking away, then launched his three-pointer despite Smith having a hand in his face.

"He's dreamt about this game, to win in a dramatic way," Coach Emad Whitney said. "I don't call it a prayer because I see the kid shoot it every day at practice."

There were 11 lead changes and six ties. The officials could have used some oxygen masks in the first half, with Taft leading at halftime, 45-43. It was a frantic pace, with the two schools combining for 11 three-pointers.

Brandon Robinson had 15 points and did an excellent job pressuring Smith, who scored 22 points but missed 13 shots.

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