Irvine Valley's men's basketball team improved its record to 5-0 and scored its biggest win of the young season so far with a dramatic 83-77 double overtime victory over Cerritos in the championship game of the 19th Annual Irvine Valley College Classic Saturday night.
It is Irvine Valley's first championship in the tournament since 2009.
"The guys showed a lot of heart and played tough and I think we learned a lot about our team tonight," IVC Coach Jerry Hernandez said.
Irvine Valley was paced by tournament MVP Shaquille Hunter. Hunter, a sophomore guard, finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. He had an off night shooting, going just 1 of 7 from the floor, but Hunter was 13 of 13 from the free throw line.
Sophomore forward Austin Priest came off the bench to add a big 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He was 6 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 3 from the three-point line.
Freshman guard Jimmy Golden had 11 points and three assists and freshman guard Jalen Hall added 10 points and three steals. Golden and IVC sophomore center Declan Daly were also named to the all-tournament team.
Irvine Valley won despite shooting just 33.8 percent (22 of 65) from the field for the game. The Lasers saves themselves by going 46.7 percent (7 of 15) from the three-point line and an even more important 86.5 percent (32 of 37) from the free throw line.
Irvine Valley was 10 of 10 from the free throw line in the two overtimes.
Cerritos, whose record fell to 2-3, was paced by freshman guard Anthony January, who had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, Kevin Conrad, who finished with 14 points and five rebounds and Victor Jones, who added 13 points and six rebounds. January and Jones were named to the all-tournament team.
Cerritos led, 36-33, at the half.
The Falcons then scored the first eight points of the second half. A lay-up by Conrad and then a jumper by Jones put the Falcons up, 44-33 with 15:42 left to play.
But Irvine Valley responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a three-pointer by Priest to pull within 44-42 with 12:16 left.
Cerritos came back with a 9-2 spurt and went ahead, 53-44, on a dunk by January with 9:27 to play.
The Falcons led until the final minute. Cerritos was up, 63-57, after a steal and layup by Josh Bell with 42 seconds left.
But Golden nailed a three-pointer for Irvine Valley to make it a 63-60 game with 30 seconds left.
And after January missed two free throws with 20 seconds to play, the Lasers got within a point at 63-62 on two free throws by Hall with nine seconds left.
Conrad split free throws for Cerritos with five seconds to go to make it a 64-62 game.
Hall was fouled with three seconds left and made both free throws to tie it at 64-64 and send the game to overtime.
Neither team led by more than three points in the first overtime.
Hunter made two free throws to give Irvine Valley a 70-68 lead with 1:07 left in the first OT.
A jumper by Micah Winn tied the game for Cerritos at 70-70 with 51 seconds to go.
In the second overtime, January put Cerritos up, 75-74 with a basket with 2:31 left.
But Irvine Valley got five straight points from Priest to take the lead for good.
His layup gave IVC a 76-75 advantage with 2:09 to play.
And then Priest hit a three-pointer with 1:22 to go to make it a 79-75 game.
Yanick Kulich made a basket inside to help IVC remain in the lead and then Hunter converted two free throws in the final seconds to preserve the win.
"I didn’t know how we were going to do it and wasn’t sure if we could, but I am really proud of the guys and how hard they fought," Hernandez said. "Cerritos is a great team and to come away with a win like this, especially in our own tournament means a lot."
Irvine Valley plays again on Tuesday, hosting MiraCosta at 4 p.m. in a non-conference contest.
19th Annual Irvine Valley Classic men's basketball tournament final results
Championship game: Irvine Valley def. Cerritos, 83-77, 2 OT
Third-Place game: Cuyamaca def. Long Beach City, 71-63
Consolation final: Santa Monica def. Imperial Valley, 90-78
MVP - Shaquille Hunter - Irvine Valley
Jimmy Golden - Irvine Valley
Declan Daly - Irvine Valley
Anthony January - Cerritos
Victor Jones - Cerritos
Keilan Horton - Santa Monica
Shane Dillon - Cuyamaca