Dayton struggles from field, loses to Fernley
DAYTON – The last time the Dayton boys’ basketball team faced Fernley, it was hardly a contest.
The Vaqueros have certainly grown up since.
Despite trailing most of the game, Fernley stepped up when it needed to and delivered a demoralizing 55-53 defeat Wednesday to the Dust Devils, who couldn’t find an answer for the Vaqueros on either side of the court.
“They came out with a half-court trap,” Dayton senior Connor Conroy said. “We weren’t expecting that. We were expecting a 3-2 zone or man. We don’t have the offense to counter that. We tried to run something at it and it worked, but we just had too many dumb turnovers.
Turnovers certainly kept Fernley in the game, but it was the Vaqueros’ players who showed how much they have grown since a 46-31 beatdown at the hands of the Dust Devils on Dec. 5 in a tournament game.
“We took a huge maturity step forward,” Fernley coach Dave Burns said. “We started 3-7 and we had to grow maturity wise.”
Fernley cut an 11-point deficit to start the fourth quarter to three after Dakota Silk hit a pair of free throws with 3 minutes, 54 seconds remaining to make it 48-45. Dayton had three shot attempts on the next possession, but came away with no points to show for it.
Bryce Baker, who attempted just one shot in the last meeting, fed Ryan Stokes on a baseline layup and finished the play with a free throw after being fouled to tie the game at 48-all.
After Fernley took its first lead since 6:41 in the first quarter at 50-48, Dayton took a timeout with 2:09 remaining and gambled by pulling out sophomore guard Dylan Taylor, who led the team with 17 points, and reinserting defensive stopper Marcos Macias who had two blocks in the game.
Chris Sikora nailed a baseline drive out of the timeout, but Fernley continued driving into the lane, as it had all night with Cade Knutson being fouled. He hit two free throws to take a 52-50 lead.
Fernley tried to run out the clock by holding on to the ball at the top of the key, but Knutson was called for a 5-second violation, giving Dayton another shot. Sikora, who struggled from the field all night, cut through three defenders to hit game-tying shot and grabbed a 53-52 on the ensuing foul shot.
Stokes got the lead back for good just 11 seconds later when he hit on a putback following a Knutson miss to take a 54-53 lead.
Dayton (0-1 Northern 3A) had trouble finding an open man in the closing seconds and resorted to a timeout to get the right call in. But Fernley’s defense held its ground as it only allowed the inbounder, Conroy, a handoff to Macias under the backboard. Macias tried to get a shot off, but hit the side of the backboard.
Fernley (1-0) was led by Baker’s 16 points, while Knutson chipped in 13 after being held scoreless most of the first and third quarters and all of the second.
The usual top scorers for Dayton were limited the entire game as Sikora finished with nine and Jake Koch only had four.
“They just had an off night,” Conroy said. “Koch had a big game Saturday, those just happen. We’ll see if we can rebound Friday against Sparks.”