Villa Park players and fans celebrate their 51-48 victory over Thousand Oaks.

Villa Park refuses to lose, reaches 2AA final


THOUSAND OAKS – Villa Park guard Casey Hershfield said adrenaline was carrying him. He felt a finale at hand, not just Villa Park's season, but his competitive playing career. Hershfield is the lone senior starter for the Spartans boys basketball team.

"I knew if we lost this game, this would probably be the end of my career," Hershfield said. "I just had to put it all out there. It was crunch time."

Hershfield, in turn, crunched No. 2 seed Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, his late 3-pointer, assist and rebound lifting No. 3 seed Villa Park to a 51-48 victory in the CIF-SS Division 2AA semifinals at Thousand Oaks High.

Villa Park (24-6) will face top-seeded J.W. North of Riverside in the section finals on Saturday at Anaheim Convention Center at 4 pm. The Spartans are returning to the championship round for the first time since 2006.

"It's awesome," Spartans coach Kevin Reynolds said. "I'm so proud. We've really worked hard all year with young guys. We just refused to lose."

What Century League champion Villa Park might lack in experience in total games played, it makes up for with experience in tight ones. This was its 12th game this season and third in a row decided by five points or fewer. The Spartans are 11-1 in such contests.

They didn't clinch their latest thriller until Thousand Oaks guard Tanner Fanjoy's last-second, half-court heave fell just short.

Fanjoy's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left cut the Lancers' deficit to a point. Hershfield took the ensuing inbound and passed to a wide-open Brian Arcinas, whose layup provided the final margin.

Hershfield drained a deep 3-pointer moments earlier to break a 45-all tie.

"He's the one senior, that's our shooter," Reynolds said. "That's the guy we were going to go with. Luke (Selway) was tired. Luke was doing everything, as he always does."

Hershfield scored eight points, including five in the fourth quarter. Selway had a game-high 20 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Center Lamont Tyler had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

The trio’s collective defensive effort, along with forward Louis Vecchio and guards Kevin Olsen, Jason Askins and Arcinas, held Thousand Oaks to 17 points below its per-game average.

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