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Jubilant students storm court after last-second shot

Monte Vista fans swarm point guard Kasen Krueger after his game-winning shot against St. Mary's in a non-league basketball game in Danville on Dec. 22, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

On the last day of finals, students typically want to get away from school as fast as possible.

It’s time for winter break. Perhaps a trip to Tahoe lies in the coming weeks, or maybe relatives are visiting. Even if you don’t have winter break plans, it’s a chance to get away from school for a bit.

Monte Vista students who came back to their Danville campus a few hours after they finished their exams for the semester were in for a treat as they saw their Mustangs eke out a 53-51 win over St. Mary’s-Stockton, capped off by sophomore Kasen Krueger’s game-winning shot from the elbow in the final seconds.

The teams were deadlocked at 51 when backup guard Alex Long grabbed a steal to set up Monte Vista’s final possession. Krueger, who had dished out five assists in the first half, sank the elbow jumper with 2.3 seconds on the clock.

“The play was for me and our other guard,” said Krueger, who recently received his first Division I offer from Southern Utah. “I saw a ghost screen, and I just went.”

With no timeouts remaining, the Rams had no way to stop the clock. In NBA and college games, the clock stops after a made basket inside the final minute. That rule doesn’t exist in high school basketball, as it would be impossible to stop the clock at the correct times without the use of a proper instant replay system.

A night earlier, Monte Vista (9-2) had lost to Moreau Catholic at the Warren Morse Showcase and lost senior forward Joshua Mathew to a leg injury. The Mustangs were also missing another starter, junior wing Daniel Cojocaru, to an ankle injury.

Krueger and Jake Fields each scored 12 points to lead the Mustangs. Sean Ahern and Cade Krueger, Kasen’s freshman brother, each scored 10. St. Mary’s (8-3) got big games from Daniel Huerta (15 points, nine rebounds), Skylar Strickland (14 points) and Cayden Ward (13 points, eight rebounds).

Two weeks earlier, St. Mary’s notched a landmark win over De La Salle, one of Monte Vista’s rivals and a favorite to win the East Bay Athletic League (EBAL). The EBAL is considered the strongest league in the entire Bay Area this year with the likes of California, Dublin, Dougherty Valley, Granada and San Ramon Valley all in contention.

“We can beat anyone in our league,” Kasen said. “We’re coming for everyone.”