The Vaqueros Grind Out a Victory

Marlon Miranda, El Vaquero Staff Writer

Slideshow by Richard Kontas

The Vaqueros defeated the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs 77-74 on a buzzer- beating, three- point shot by Nate Bryant on Feb. 18 in Glendale.

The game was a typical grind house with no team being able to keep the lead for more than a couple of possessions. Head Coach Brain Beauchemin felt the team played great defense and demonstrated skillful defensive awareness.

“Our defense played great all year and it finally paid off. This team could have rolled over months ago but they kept on fighting, “ said Beauchemin.

The game started with the Monarchs jumping out to an early lead due in large part to their efficient 3-point shooting.

The Vaqueros’ defensive intensity picked up the pace when Shara Bakahanians got in the game early in the first half. His defensive pressure stopped the Monarchs’ penetration. Bakahanians set the defensive tone for the game. He scored 18 points, grabbed 12 boards and had a steal and a block.

“I figured out how to guard my opponent early in the game,” said Bakahanians. “With experience you get a better vision of the game and the defensive aspect.”

With Bakahanians controlling the perimeter, it was up to Marquis Brooks to guard the paint. He grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. Brooks forced the Monarchs to rely on outside shooting to stay in the game.

“Grabbing boards and blocking shots is my favorite part of the game. We played great defensive the entire ball game,” said Brooks.

The Monarchs stayed in the game with their three-point shooting. They shot 83 percent from behind the ark in the second half, connecting on five, while missing only one.

Nick Rhodes scored 18 points and had two critical steals in the game. Rhodes credited the coaching staff for preparing the team mentally.

“They [coaches] did a great job preparing us with a solid game plan,” said Rhodes. “Coach [Beauchemin] keeps us humble and prepared to grind. We play hard and never give up regardless of the score. Defensive sets our offense up for easy shots.”

The final minutes of the game were filled with controversy. With the Vaqueros up by three points, the Monarchs scored a basket and got a loose ball foul called in their favor in the same possession. The foul call filled the arena with boos and had some fans walk out of the game.

Rhodes was charged for a foul when he was no where near the ball handler. Rhodes was running to the ball handler when he was charged a foul. The call ended up tying up the game again and set up the game’s dramatic finale.

The Monarchs were preparing to take the last shot, milking the clock until the final seconds. With nine seconds left, Rhodes stole the ball and threw an outlet pass to Brooks. He was instantly double-teamed and passed to a wide open Bryant who drained the game winning 3-pointer.

“It felt good to end the season this way,” said Bryant. “Brooks told me if I was open he was going to pass me the ball. It feels so good to have the confidence of my teammates. I really wanted the ball and take the last shot. I am glad I made it.”