Photos: Wildcat coach’s last league game ends with overtime win against Thunderbirds

By AILEEN JANEE CORPUS 

The Redlands East Valley High School Wildcats had their final game of the Citrus Belt League on Friday, Feb. 4 versus the Yucaipa High School Thunderbirds. This was also the boys varsity basketball annual Senior Night and the final CBL home game coached by the Wildcat’s head coach Bill Berich.

Pre-game

Before the game, announcer Kirk Escher told the audience that “Coach Berich is retiring from teaching and coaching at the end of this year after 42 years in education.”

“It is fitting that we honor him tonight as we host Yucaipa High School, where Bill began his teaching and coaching career in the Inland Empire,” said Escher.

Berich has been REV’s only head boys basketball coach since the school opened in 1997.

The pre-game speeches started with a few words by Berich, saying “This is senior night and maybe one senior citizen night,” with laughs from the crowd.

He then spoke about how thankful he was for being involved in the basketball program at REV and the announcement of the eight REV seniors that were being celebrated on Senior Night.

Before the athletes began their warmup and after the crowd had settled down from the junior varsity game, the final game of the Citrus Belt League started with a few words from Redlands East Valley High School head coach Bill Berich. REV Athletic Director Chad Blatchley and REV ASB Advisor Matt Fashempour also made brief speeches in honor of Berich. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

During Wildcats head boys’ basketball coach’s speech before the game at Redlands East Valley High School on Feb. 4, the boys’ varsity basketball team wait in anticipation for the game to begin. Seniors sat closest to Berich with the younger players sitting near the end of the bench. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Bill Berich hugs his son, Adam Berich, also Wildcat alum, after his family surprised him on the court before the game on Feb. 4. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

As a gift to Berich, the Wildcat Associated Student Body presented him with a banner that listed his years and accomplishments as head coach of boys’ basketball at Redlands East Valley High School. He is accompanied by his family and REV seniors are also accompanied by their families on the baseline. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

As a surprise, Berich’s daughter and Wildcat alum, Carly Berich-Brunjes, sang the Star Spangled Banner, with the audience, referees, players and coaches standing respectfully. After this, the final Citrus Belt League game for Redlands East Valley High School and Yucaipa High School began. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

The Wildcat Gym was decorated with posters of the Redlands East Valley High School seniors for Senior Night on Friday, Feb. 4. Top: Posters of seniors Arnie James Corpus, Piave Fitzpatrick, Luke Mathis and Jaydin Hardy. Bottom: Posters of seniors Jacob Watson, Justin Mills, Aram Bangou and Jacob Zelaya (right).  (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photos)

Game time

The final CBL game of the 2021-23 season started with the Thunderbirds gaining first possession.

The Thunderbirds’ Nathan Hernandez at 6’5 and the Wildcats’ Jacob Zelaya at 6’2 went for the jump ball to begin the game. After the referee had tossed up the ball, Hernandez tipped the ball and gave Yucaipa the first possession of the game. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School senior Luke Mathis is guarded in the corner by Yucaipa High School senior point guard Joshua Macias in the Wildcat gym on Feb. 4. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School junior Alfred Lee looks for someone to pass to while being guarded by Yucaipa High School senior Matthew Selbert on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Yucaipa High School senior J.D. Shah, junior Nathan Hernandez and sophomore Tristan Doty and Redlands East Valley High School Piave Fitzpatrick rebound for the ball after a free throw shot in the Wildcat gym on Feb. 4. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School junior Jeremiah Bolanos attempts a two-pointer against Yucaipa High School senior Mitchell Hendrickson in the Wildcat gym on Feb. 4. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

By the end of the first half, the Thunderbirds had a lead with 36 points and eight fouls with the Wildcats down by eight points with 28 points and 10 fouls. It looked bleak for the Wildcats, but the Litter Box continued to encourage their team.

The varsity cheer squad of Redlands East Valley attended Senior Night and sat by the sideline while still cheering. During halftime, they made three pyramids which resulted in cheers and applause from the crowd. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

The home side stands were packed with athletes’ family and friends, as well as former co-coaches and players of retiring head coach Bill Berich as he coached his last league game. Cheers from the crowd shifted into more quiet tension as the game progressed and neither team was consistently dominating. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Fourth quarter proved to be a challenging for both teams.

At eight minutes in the fourth quarter, Yucaipa was still in the lead with 56 points and REV with 51 points, but because Yucaipa had six fouls and REV had only one, if the Wildcats continued to drive into the Thunderbird’s defense, they could garner enough fouls to get into the bonus and shoot free throws to gain more points to chip away at the deficit.

At five minutes and two seconds left in the fourth quarter, REV and Yucaipa were at a tie of 56 points, but Yucaipa had seven fouls and REV had two fouls. Another tie was hit with three minutes and 59 seconds of the fourth quarter with both teams at 58 points.

The Thunderbirds managed to break away by leading with two points at three minutes and 48 seconds left of the fourth quarter, and Yucaipa gained two more points by two minutes and 57 seconds.

With only two minutes and 7 seconds left of the fourth quarter, Yucaipa was in the lead 64-58 with five fouls for the Wildcats and seven fouls for Yucaipa which made REV in the bonus.

The Thunderbird’s continued this lead even into one minute and seven seconds left of the fourth quarter, but this time, both teams were in the bonus. If either team hoped to win, they would have to minimize their fouls and attempt drawing fouls from the opposing team.

Redlands East Valley High School senior Piave Fitzpatrick, who plays forward, catches a rebound while on offense on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School senior Luke Mathis prepares to receive a pass from junior Malachi Williams on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School junior Malachi Williams jumps to catch a rebound while on offense on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School junior Ashir Shaw attempts a lay up during the second half of the game against Yucaipa on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

At one minute left in the fourth quarter, Yucaipa continued to lead REV by five points with 64 points on the scoreboard.

At 45.4 seconds left of the fourth quarter REV was down by two points with 62 points and Yucaipa still at 64 points. The Wildcats had managed to stop the ball movement for the Thunderbirds and score.

This continued until there was 14.4 seconds left and REV tied the game at 64 points. REV maintained the tie until the end of the fourth quarter, causing the game to go into overtime.

Yucaipa High School sophomore Tristan Doty looks to pass to senior J.D. Shah during the fourth quarter of the game in the Wildcat gym on Feb. 4. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Over-time

Thunderbird Nathen Hernandez and Wildcat Ashir Shaw returned to the half court line for the jump ball to begin overtime. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

With extra minutes on the clock for overtime, players, coaches and audience members prepared for the final deciding four minutes of the game.

At two minutes and three seconds, Yucaipa led with 68 points with REV behind by a mere point.

At two minutes REV got the lead with 69 points with Yucaipa still at 68 points. The game continued it’s back and forth pattern by Yucaipa leading with 70 points with REV at 69 points at one minute and 44 seconds left in overtime, but by Yucaipa having 9 fouls and REV with eight. Both teams had the chance of going into the double bonus and for more free throws.

Redlands East Valley High School sophomore Darrell Green guards Yucaipa High School senior J.D. Shah during the fourth quarter of the game against YHS on Feb. 4 in the Wildcat gym. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

With one minute and 17 seconds of the game left on the clock, REV had the lead of 71 points, Yucaipa 70 points, and both teams with the same amount of fouls. 

The Wildcats got the possession at 47.6 seconds left in overtime, gaining more points.

At 18.9 seconds, the Thunderbirds had the possession, but time had run out and the Wildcats’ defense held Yucaipa from scoring.

The Wildcats ended the game victoriously by one point with an end score of 71-70.

Although Yucaipa High School drew a foul from Redlands East Valley High School with 1:02 left on the click, they missed both of their free throws. The Thunderbirds’ Tristan Doty was at the free throw line. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Redlands East Valley High School senior Piave Fitzpatrick and junior Jeremiah Bolaños jump with enthusiasm after winning their final CBL game of the 2021-22 basketball season in an overtime clincher. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

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