FAIRFIELD — For the second time this season, the Vanden High boys basketball team coughed up a fourth-quarter lead to Vallejo.
This time, Thomas Avent saved the day.
The sophomore guard drained a wide open 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to lift the Vikings to a 64-61 Solano County Athletic Conference victory at Jim Boyd Gym, Thursday.
The win keeps Vanden (14-10, 6-1) in a tie with Fairfield atop the SCAC standings.
“I was wide open, I had to shoot it,” said Avent, who led all scorers with 26 points. “It’s a really big win. Now if we win our next two games (against Bethel at home Tuesday and at American Canyon next Thursday) we’ll have a showdown with Fairfield the last game.”
Vikings coach Micheal Holloway was happy to see the ball in Avent’s hands with the game on the line.
“Actually, he’s shooting 62 percent over the last six games,” the coach said. “As soon as he caught it, I knew he was going to knock it down.”
The rest of the game wasn’t such a sure thing despite Vanden trailing just once at 17-16 2 minutes into second quarter.
The Vikings scored the game’s first six points and led by as many as nine at 12-3 in the first quarter before holding a 14-11 lead after the first eight minutes.
There were three ties in the second quarter, the last at 21 before the Vikings closed out the half on a 13-4 run, DeMarre Walker capping the surge with a banked in 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 34-25.
Vanden took its biggest lead of the night at 36-25 when Walker, who finished with 22 points, scored the first basket of the third quarter.
With Jason Dickson scoring four buckets in less than two minutes, the visitors cut the lead to 43-41 before Vanden extended its advantage to 51-46 entering the fourth quarter.
The Vikings used a 7-2 run to get their lead back to double digits at 58-48 with 4:13 to go, only to have the Apaches make things interesting once more.
Buoyed by a pair of Danzil White 3-pointers, Vallejo used a 9-1 to pull to within two 59-57 with 1:38 remaining.
Avent momentarily stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws 12 seconds later, but the Apaches tied it on a basket in the paint by Evan Austrie with a minute to go and a hanging jumper by Delvon Burrell with 32 seconds left.
Holloway called a timeout and when the defense surrounded Walker near the mid-court line, the junior guard got the ball to Avent for his game-winning shot.
After numerous late turnovers in the earlier 58-56 loss on Jan. 21, Holloway said the key this time was “just staying the course.”
“It’s easy, because Vallejo is very athletic, to get into that kind of (turnover-filled) game,” the coach said. “Here we stayed in the game. . . . We kept attacking the press and it was a good job.”
After Avent and Walker, Terry was next with eight points.
Burrell led Vallejo (13-10, 4-3 SCAC) with 17 points, while Dickson had 12, White 11 and Devin Bracy eight.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.