Virginia City boys sink free throws for win | NevadaAppeal.com

Virginia City boys sink free throws for win

DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Free throw shooting has been something that has hampered Virginia City’s boys basketball team throughout the season.

The Muckers, however, reached the semifinals of the NIAA 1A Regionals because they knocked down free throws down the stretch.

Virginia City went 9-for-10 in the final 1 minute, 48 seconds to grab a 55-50 come-from-behind win over Eureka Thursday night at Wooster High School.

The win puts the Muckers into the semifinals against league rival Smith Valley, a 54-45 winner over Jackpot. Tip-off is set for tonight at 8 p.m. at Wooster.

“I’d certainly like to beat one of our league rivals,” Virginia City coach Deny Dotson said. “Smith Valley is big. They play a 1-3-1 zone and they put their big people up front and that makes it difficult to go over the top.

“Youth reared its ugly head more times than I’d like to see. We didn’t play very well.”

Eureka certainly made it difficult for VC to come out on top in this one.

Eureka led 24-21 at the half, and the game see-sawed back and forth with no more than five points separating the teams in the final 16 minutes.

The game was tied at 42 and 44, the last deadlock with 1:59 remaining in regulation.

William Link drove the lane and converted a 3-point play to give Eureka a 47-44 advantage with 1:51 left. Eureka’s Dylan Allen missed a lay-up and then fouled Ryan Conners in a frustration move. Conners sliced the deficit to one with two free throws.

Eureka’s Pat Damele hit the back end of a two-shot situation with 1:28 to give his team a 48-46 edge.

For the next 75 seconds, it was all Virginia City. Conners missed a lay-up, Eureka rebounded and Zach Shell stole the ball and was fouled. Shell made the first and missed the second to make it 48-47. Shell made another steal, this turning it into a lay-up and a 49-48 lead with 39.8 left.

That’s when it got interesting.

Dotson was trying to call a timeout, and finally the official across the court heard him. Unfortunately, the ball had already been inbounded when play was stopped. The officiating crew discussed the play at length and put a small amount of time back on the clock.

“I was trying to call time, so I could set the press up,” Dotson said. “It was the right call.”

Eureka’s Johnny Cavener drove the lane and missed the lay-up. Conners was fouled and calmly drained two free throws for a 51-48 lead with 28.5 remaining.

Eureka’s Jared Burnham sliced down the middle, but missed, and Eureka was forced to foul again. Hunter Redman made two foul shots to make it 53-48 with 13.5 left. Allen’s bucket made it 53-50, but Shell drained two more free throws for a five-point bulge.

“Zach made some big free throws and Ryan Conners hit some big free throws,” coach Dotson said. “That was the difference.”

Virginia City seized control early with a game-opening 9-2 run thanks to five quick points by Shell. Eureka rebounded with seven straight points, tying the game at nine before Shell and Colt Dotson scored to make it 13-9 after one.

The Muckers completed a 10-0 run with baskets by Redman, Joe Avignone and Colt Dotson (13 points) for a 19-9 lead.

Over the next 3 minutes, 17 seconds, Virginia City went 0-for-6 from the floor and turned the ball over once, enabling Eureka to run off 12 straight points for a 21-19 lead.

A 3-pointer by Burnham (13 points) snapped a 21-all tie with 1:56 left in the half to give Eureka a 24-21 lead at the break.

That set the stage for a wild second half that saw the game tied four times.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling 881-1281.