Dayton wins Northern 3A title |

Dayton wins Northern 3A title

RENO – Whenever the Dayton and Yerington boys basketball teams take the floor, it’s no place for the timid. And when the Northern 3A championship is on the line, only those with plenty of guts need take the floor.

The way these two teams go after each other, the Northern 3A should be renamed the Black and Blue Division. Both teams played a stifiling man defense, but it was the Dust Devils who were able to pull away and then hold on for a 46-40 win to take the Northern 3A title on Saturday at Damonte Ranch.

Both teams will play this Friday in the NIAA 3A State Tournament in Las Vegas, with Dayton makings its fifth straight trip to state and Yerington making its third straight visit. The Lions will likely have to play the prohibitive favorite to win state, Faith Lutheran.

Both teams were focused on stopping the other teams’ top players – Dayton’s Travis Wood and Erik Hopper and Yerington’s Garey Smith and James Roberts. The difference came from Dayton’s two inside players, Jacob Jones (16 points) and Mike Vincent (13 points), who picked up the slack for the Dust Devils.

“Both those guys played well,” Dayton coach T.W. Cunningham said. “In the second half we decided to pound it inside and they did a great job.”

Dayton also played stifling defense in a 49-35 win over Spring Creek on Friday in the Northern 3A semifinals. As good as Dayton was defensively over the weekend, Cunningham said the Dust Devils will need to play even better defense to have a chance to win the state title.

“We’ll just put our focus on the first round game and try to keep improving on the things we can and just keep improving defensively,” Cunningham said. “That’s a big part of what we do. Our goal is going to be 40 and both games we did that.”

A big reason why Dayton held Yerington to 40 was the Dust Devils held the Lions to just one field goal in the second quarter and one field goal in the third period.

“The second, third quarters we had a little lull and that was totally my fault,” Yerington coach Daron Wildermuth said. “I overcoached.

“I did too much. I wasn’t allowing them to play That’s poor coaching. That’s my fault. That’s totally my fault.”

Yerington was able to stay in the game from the foul line, hitting 18-of-28 while Dayton was 6-of-8 from the line. The Lions finally got going in the fourth quarter when Roberts scored his first field goal of the game. He was fouled and converted the three-point play to cut Dayton’s lead to 31-26.

But it looked like Dayton went on to put the game away when Jones scored on two straight conventional three-point plays to give the Dust Devils a 39-28 lead.

Hopper, who went scoreless, was called for a foul on the inbounds play and fouled out with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left. A technical foul was also called on the Dayton bench and Casey Wildermuth made 3-of-4 free throws to bring Yerington to within 39-31.

Ryan Ransdell scored on a putback to give Dayton a 41-31 lead before Roberts scored on a putback. Another technical foul was called on Dayton and Smith hit 1-of-2 foul shots.

Roberts then made a steal and hustled down to the other end of the floor to rebound a miss and was fouled going back up. He hit both free throws to cut Dayton’s lead to 41-36.

Wood responded by scoring on a putback before Wildermuth made an NBA-range three-pointer to cut Dayton’s lead to 43-39. But Wood scored again inside to effectively put the game away.

“As you can see they can score,” said coach Wildermuth about his team in the fourth quarter. “That was anybody’s ball game.

“Dayton’s a good program. I’m proud of the way our kids played and the way we conducted ourselves.”

Wildermuth hit a three and Marcus Kness converted a conventional three-point play as Yerington built a 12-6 lead in the first quarter. But Dayton went on an 11-2 run to take a 17-14 lead.

While Hopper didn’t score offensively, he certainly made his presence felt defensively. Late in the third quarter he stole the ball off the press on an inbound pass and saved the ball, leading to a basket that gave Dayton a 29-22 lead.

Wood added eight points for Dayton. Wildermuth scored 14, Roberts and David Martinez each added eight points and Marcus Kness and Smith each had five points to account for Yerington’s scoring.