Elray Coleman didn't miss 100 shots in the first half of Thursday's game at Golden Valley, but the West High senior felt like it.
That was of no consequence to his coach, Tye Hammond, and that paid dividends as Coleman hit two big 3-pointers in the final minute as West beat Golden Valley 66-64 to take control of the South Yosemite League race.
"Coach kept telling me to keep shooting the ball," Coleman said. "I was like, 'Coach, they're not falling tonight.' But he said, 'I don't care if you miss 100; I want you to shoot 101.'"
Coleman, who finished with 25 points after scoring 41 against Mira Monte on Tuesday, cut the Golden Valley lead to 61-60 with a 3-pointer from the right corner with just less than a minute to play.
Seconds later, he buried a trey from the other corner to give the Vikings (16-6, 5-1 SYL) a two-point lead less than a minute after they were down by four.
"I was a shooter when I played (at Bakersfield High)," Hammond said. "I could be 0-for-10, and my coach, Mark Hutson, would say, 'All I need is three 3s from you in this fourth quarter and we win.' It's the same thing with Elray, and he did it tonight."
Isaiah Mims and Coleman combined for three free throws to stretch the lead to 66-61 with 5.9 seconds remaining, but Golden Valley (14-10, 4-3) wasn't quite done. Michael Dorrough hit a long 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left, and Vikings point guard Aris Banks turned the ball over on the inbounds pass.
But then Banks harrassed Dorrough into a fumble on Golden Valley's last chance. Dorrough recovered, but his last-ditch 3-pointer came up way short.
"I was upset because my point guard went against my word there, and I gave it to him pretty good," Hammond said. "But then I told him he could be the hero on defense, and sure enough, he pressured that guy into a bad shot."
Coleman scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half. Malik Washington added 18 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks for West, and Banks finished with 11.
Dorrough led Golden Valley with 18 points, and Treyvon Armstrong and Austin Toerner each had 11. But the Bulldogs lost a 14-point lead early in the second half and were all but eliminated from the SYL race with just one game to play.
"I think we lost the game in the third quarter," Bulldogs coach David Gago said. "There were a couple of technical fouls I thought were questionable ... But we've played (West) four times now, and all four have come down to the wire."
West, meanwhile, has a one-game lead over Ridgeview (4-2 SYL) with a home game against the Wolf Pack coming Tuesday.
"It feels so good to know we're No. 1 in the league now," Coleman said. "We've just got to keep it up. We put up the effort; we go hard every day.
"If we don't have practice, we're at the park. That's the kind of team we are."