Mexican exchange student Renzo Valera-Martinez played his final game with Highland Jan. 24. Photo by Owen Norman-Laver.

Highland beats Timberline in bittersweet basketball game

Final game for Mexican exchange student

The Highland Raiders senior boys basketball team played a bittersweet home game against the Timberline Wolves on Thursday, Jan. 24. The sweetness started when Highland opened the board with a three-point ringer by Renzo Valera-Martinez — and therein lays the bitter part. Valera-Martinez, an exchange student from Mexico and one of Highland’s high scorers, was playing his last game as a Raider before turning in his jersey and returning to his home country.

Despite three pointers in the first quarter by Valera-Martinez, David Ng and Josh Taylor, the game was non-descript until the fourth quarter when Scott Gilfillan hit a layup and padded the Raiders lead with another two points. This ignited a fire in the Wolves, who would not go down without a fight. They capitalized on the Raiders having five fouls and were rewarded with four foul shots, resulting in a score of 53 to 50 for the Wolves with a mere 12 seconds to go. When it seemed that Highland’s victory was slipping away, Valera-Martinez tossed a mean three-pointer, causing those on the bench and those in the stands to rise to their feet. The score became 53 all, sweeping the Raiders into overtime.

The first five minutes of OT saw two teams with five fouls battling it out point-for-point when big man Will Derksen tied the game 58-58 with 30 seconds remaining. This resulted in a second overtime, which gave the two teams five more minutes to do or die, and Highland wanted the win. Derksen made an amazing steal followed with two successful free throws while Valera-Martinez hit his third three-pointer of the evening. The Raiders won 72-62.

Highland hosts its final league game against Kwalikum on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.

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