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State Basketball: Valencia pulls away in second half to win boys’ Division IV title


Bryce Bedgood grabbed a mid-air rebound, threw a walk-out pass to teammate Mikah Ballew, and paused for a moment. He had done his job.

Ballew and teammate Jacob Michel-Zavala had a two-on-two transition late in the second quarter against Half Moon Bay in the Division IV boys’ basketball state championship game, and an overwhelming physical advantage. As Ballew took a euro step, Bedgood’s half-hearted jogs up the court came to a halt.

That was not the mentality that got Valencia here, which turned a 7-9 start, following a 5-20 season, into a dominating run to a Division 4AA Southern Section title and Saturday’s spot in the state final. And it certainly wasn’t the mindset father and head coach Bill Bedgood tried to instill all these years in his lanky 6-foot-9 youngster.

So when Michel-Zavala charged for a corner three, Bryce Bedgood galloped down the court like a rampaging gazelle, destroyed a Half Moon Bay player half his size trying to box him in, grabbed the rebound on another Cougars player and ended a tough replacement arrangement.

It was a microcosm of the season for Bedgood, a kid who admitted he used to trip over his own limbs maximizing a growth spurt (four inches over the course of the season) through sheer effort. And in leading Valencia to an 89-59 victory and the Division IV state title, he capped a lifetime journey with his father, the older Bedgood walking away with a trophy in the last game of his career. as a coach.

“The thing that’s most important to me is just being a father,” Bill Bedgood said after the game, the 6-foot-6 veteran coach’s eyes turning red. “And I think being a father makes you a better coach. But I don’t know if being a coach makes you a better father, ever.”

Training Bryce was the hardest thing he had ever done as a trainer. It was tough in that 5-20 season, having to put up with all the losses. It was tough on Bryce, who simply said that playing for his dad was great, but that he often had to face his dad so he wouldn’t come across as a “jerk.”

It was still tough when the schedule changed to 2023, and that 7-9 was all the Vikings could think of, Bryce said. All they could bring. So, in his first practice in the new year, Coach Bedgood had his players sit in a circle and write basketball-inspired “resolutions” on a piece of paper: how they each felt they could help a program make spin your wheels.

A cerebral kid with a 4.3 GPA and Ivy League hopes, Bryce kept it simple. He focus on the defensive end. He bought into a big man role. He grabs every rebound and constantly picks up the pace.

“How can you positively affect the game without the ball in your hands?” Bryce described.

On Saturday, he was a mass of arms swirling around the rim, finishing Half Moon Bay layups like a cruel father playing basketball against a 3-year-old son. After a gritty display of ball movement and shooting by the Cougars produced a tie late in the first quarter, Bryce’s effort became the difference in pulling the Vikings away, culminating in the hustle from the second quarter.

“Even 7-9, in the middle of the year, I wouldn’t have made the play, because I’d be lazy,” Bryce said. “But I just know that I have to run around the court and play hard all the time.”

He got going offensively in the second half, showing good footwork and touch to finish with 22 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Mikah Ballew, who transferred from Bishop Alemany, worked his way up to 25 points, and point guard Kai Davis added a steady hand with 17 points and eight assists.

After the game, Bryce praised his father and the coach offered a genuine smile and a gentle tap on his son’s leg. It’s time to put down the clipboard. It’s time to just be a parent.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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