SAN MATEO — The Vanden High boys basketball team refuses to go quietly.
Down by five points with just under a minute to go, the 10th-seeded Vikings scored the final eight points to upset No. 7 Aragon 88-85 in the first round of the Northern California Regionals, Wednesday.
It was the first NorCal victory for Vanden (20-11) since defeating Yreka in the 1996 semifinals under coach Jim Boyd, for whom the school’s gym is named.
“It means a lot. These kids know the history of Vanden,” Vikings coach Micheal Holloway said. “They know about Jim Boyd, the (600-plus career) wins, They know Jim Boyd is walking around somewhere. They want to continue to make history of their own, they want to make their own history.”
Vanden advances to play at second-seeded Campolindo of Moraga, Saturday, at 6 p.m.
Hopes of making the quarterfinals were dim with the Vikings down 85-80 with 56 seconds to go.
That’s when Dons point guard and leading scorer Alex Manu – he finished with 28 points – fouled out.
Seconds later, DeMarre Walker made a layup after a steal and then drained a 3-pointer off a pass from Thomas Avent to tie the score at 85.
Then came an agonizing parade to the foul line as Jihad Woods, Avent and Walker each made one of two free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
“The kids just don’t want to lose right now, they don’t want to lose,” Holloway said. “Early they got up on us quick. They’re similar to Davis High (which beat Vanden 85-81 on Dec. 13), no size they just want to run. They let you get a layup because want the ball back.
“We were able to rebound and share the ball. We were able to make shots and make them take it out (under) the basket.”
Vanden trailed 33-24 after the first quarter and was down by 41-38 at the half. After both teams scored 20 points in their quarter, the Vikings held a 30-24 edge in the final eight minutes.
Walker led Vanden with 26 points and added 10 assists, while Woods contributed 21 points and 14 rebounds and Avent had 13 points.
The Viking will need similar contributions to beat Campolindo, which routed them 66-47 at Merritt College of Oakland on Dec. 20.
“They beat us up pretty good,” Holloway said. “We’re going to go back to work (Thursday).”