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SAN RAMON — Sometimes a change of venue and higher stakes — make that much higher stakes — can provide an entirely different game.
Such was the case Saturday.
Less than 48 hours earlier, Dublin, playing on its home court, routed Dougherty Valley in a game that really didn’t mean a whole lot. The teams knew beforehand that they would meet again two days later at Dougherty for the East Bay Athletic League championship.
Adding to the storyline was a knee injury that former Dublin and current Dougherty Valley star Robby Beasley suffered in the opening minutes Thursday.
Inspired to play for its injured teammate, Dougherty did all it could to its portion of the standing-room-only crowd home happy.
But Dublin found a way to survive the atmosphere (electric), the opponent (Dougherty made all 26 of its free throws) and some tense situations at the end of regulation and the first overtime to win 90-73 in double OT.
The Gaels (23-5) are the league champion for the second time in four years.
“I can’t even put it in words,” said Anthony Roy, who finished with 21 points. “This is unreal, We worked hard for it.”
Roy’s 3-pointer with 36.2 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime tied 65-65.
Malik Jackson’s power move in the paint pulled Dublin even again, 71-71, with 3.4 seconds left in the first OT, extending the game another four minutes.
Jackson led Dublin with 25 points.
“Malik Jackson, the last five games, has been phenomenal,” Dublin coach Tom Costello said. “We’re not going to be here without Malik.”
Dublin put the game away in the second OT as Elijah Alonso was a force on defense and 8 for 8 from the foul line to seal the championship. He finished with 14 points.
The Gaels also got 12 points from Devon Jackson and 10 from Jaden Saunders.
What did it take to survive?
“Just a lot of work,” Jackson said. “Keep going. We can’t be tired. No excuses. We had to keep fighting the whole time.”
About 45 minutes before the game, Beasley took a seat on the bench and shared friendly words with his former teammates, who were warming up.
The Montana-bound senior, who said he will undergo an MRI exam on Sunday to get a more definitive diagnosis on his right knee, later walked to midcourt and chatted with his former coach.
“I told him I was sorry and wished he was playing,” Costello said. “He spent three quality years in our program. Just because the kid changed his laundry doesn’t mean you stop caring about him.”
Fortunately for Dougherty, it has a second Beasley in its lineup — Robby’s freshman brother Ryan — and the kid was special in the biggest game of his young career.
Ryan Beasley hit all 16 of his free throws, finished with 22 points and was disruptive on defense before fouling out in the second OT.
“I was trying to get a dub for him,” Ryan said about his brother.
He and his teammates darn near pulled it off.
Jacoby Lacey had 22 points for Dougherty, and the Sevilla brothers (Donovan and Aidan) combined for 29.
Dougherty (22-5) led 15-9 after the first quarter and 25-21 at the break, a dramatic difference from the game Thursday.
“I knew they’d come ready to go tonight,” Dougherty coach Mike Hansen said. “We gave them all they could handle. Gave them a couple of different looks. Kept the pace where we wanted it. Had multiple chances to win it. One, we couldn’t make a shot. And the other time we couldn’t get a stop.”
Dublin went ahead in the third quarter and opened an eight-point advantage midway through the fourth.
Dougherty charged back.
Donovan Sevilla’s 3-pointer, followed by two free throws from Beasley and a 3-pointer by Aidan Sevilla pulled Dougherty to within 59-57.
When Beasley hit two more free throws with 50.6 seconds left, Dougherty led 65-62.
Roy’s 3-pointer tied it 65-65.
Doughtery led 71-69 late in the first OT after Donovan Sevilla scored.
Dublin called time with 15.2 seconds to go, worked the ball into Jackson and he went up strong over a defender to extend the game.
“I’m trying to win,” Jackson said.
Both teams will now wait for the North Coast Section to announce its playoff seedings Sunday.
With a resume that includes winning the section’s strongest league — in addition to a non-league victory over Salesian — Costello believes his team deserves the No. 1 seed in the new six-team Open Division.
Hansen believes his team has done enough to merit not only an Open spot but a home game, too.
“They’re going to be the 1 seed, I think,” Hansen said about Dublin, “and we took them to double overtime.”
After sharing his thoughts about the playoffs, Costello added, “I just want to enjoy this right now and leave it in the hands of the experts. We’ll live to play another day.”