ATHERTON, Calif. — You would’ve had to drag the Dougherty Valley Wildcats out of Ayers Gym kicking and screaming on Tuesday night.
Already missing Robby Beasley to a knee injury, his younger brother, Ryan, went down with one in the second quarter, which would have been a death sentence for most teams. Even so, the Wildcats gave the Menlo-Atherton Bears all they could handle in the first round of the CIF Division I Tournament, finally falling 57-54.
Trailing 51-41 after a Trevor Wargo offensive rebound led to a Spencer Lin layup, 12th-seeded Dougherty Valley (22-6) got the next eight points, pulling within two on a pair of Jacoby Lacey free throws. True to form, the Wildcats were sensational at the line, making 14 of 17.
“Our coaches hold us to a very high standard of perfection,” said Donovan Sevilla, who scored a game-high 20 points. “We don’t have the most athletic guys or the most talented guys, so we’ve really got to hone in on all the little things in order for us to win.”
He did finally miss a free throw with 2:15 left, and the Bears capitalized on it as Spencer Lin knocked down a corner three on the following possession to put Menlo-Atherton (23-4) up five. Aidan Sevilla would make two with 48.3 left, and the Wildcats would have a chance to tie after an M-A turnover, but missed a pair of shots. Justin Anderson would miss the front end of a 1-and-1 with 13.3 left, but Lin grabbed the offensive rebound.
“It was a lucky miss,” Lin said. “I was at the right place at the right time.”
The fortuitous bounce sent the hosts right back to the line, and Lin would make both to all but put the game away. Donovan Sevilla scored the last points of his career with a second to go, but all the fifth-seeded Bears needed to do to seal the win was successfully inbound the ball, which they did on a stretch pass to Skyler Thomas.
Thomas scored seven, all in the first half, including a one-handed dunk off a steal for the game’s first basket. He and Justin Anderson, who scored all of his 14 across the first two quarters, helped push the Bears to a 32-25 halftime lead, with Beasley leaving in the final minutes of the half after scoring nine points.
For a second consecutive game, Anderson, committed to play defensive back at Washington State, gave onlookers reason to consider if basketball was his true calling, with seven of his 11 rebounds in the first half to go with three assists and three steals.
When he was held off the scoresheet in the second half, it was the bench players who delivered in key moments to keep M-A in front. After the Bears had taken their largest lead of the night, Dougherty unleashed a 7-0 run, with a Donovan Sevilla and-1 cutting the lead to 41-37.
Just as it seemed the Wildcats had adapted to life without either of the Beasley brothers, M-A got a shot in the arm from two unlikely sources, with a basket from A’Marion McCoy and a Ricky Martin putback. Lacey would bank in two of his eight points to close the third, but another Martin putback to start the fourth would put the Bears up by eight again and they’d lead by 10 before nearly unraveling as Anderson missed much of the fourth quarter with a bloody nose.
“We don’t want to go home yet,” he said of his team’s mentality.
After winning their first NorCal home game since 2017, the Bears will be looking for their first road playoff victory since 2016, a season that culminated in a Northern California Championship Game appearance. They’ll travel to fourth-seeded De La Salle (23-7) on Thursday, a team the Wildcats split with in the regular season.
Competing with De La Salle would have been out of the question for Dougherty Valley before welcoming in the outgoing senior class, a group that head coach Mike Hansen spoke glowingly of following the loss.
“They’ve taken this program to a whole new level,” he said. “We were Dougherty, the smart kids who play hard. Now we’re Dougherty, the smart, talented kids who win championships.”
The injuries to the Beasley brothers will leave questions as to what might have been, but even without the Montana commit and his lightning rod of a brother, the Wildcats went toe-to-toe with an excellent opponent in their final game, not only getting 20 points from the eldest of the Sevilla brothers but also four apiece from senior centers Justin Neri and Sai Ramadas.