PREP BASKETBALL: Miners rally from big deficit, beat Enterprise in NUIT opener (PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com

PREP BASKETBALL: Miners rally from big deficit, beat Enterprise in NUIT opener (PHOTO GALLERY)

Nevada Union's boys basketball team gave the packed house at Albert Ali Gymnasium plenty to cheer about as the Miners rallied from a large second half deficit and topped Enterprise, 66-64, in the Nevada Union Invitational Tournament opener Thursday.

"That was really fun," said Nevada Union head coach Mark Casey after his team charged back from a 16-point third quarter deficit. "We're not going to pretend for a second that we're going to run the table because of this, but what we do realize is it's a big moment for them. It could be a defining moment. It's still early in the season, but that's a big character defining moment. We have a group that has nice chemistry but doesn't have a ton of experience, especially big game experience – at home, sold out place. I think that really showed what they are made of, what they can do going forward."

The Miners (3-3) battled the Hornets (1-5) to a 14-14 tie after one quarter, but fell behind 33-27 at the halfway mark. Enterprise came out of the break hot and sank four 3-pointers from four different players to push their lead to 47-31. That's when the Miners began to climb back into the contest.

A Riley Japhet-Gekas 3-pointer got the Miners going and then it was the Ryan Werner show. The 5-foot, 9-inch senior guard scored the next 10 points for NU, hitting a pair of free throws, scoring on back-to-back drives to the hoop and nailing a 3-pointer while getting fouled. He would make the free throw. Werner completed NU's 15-0 run to close the quarter with a nifty assist to Jordan Mills for a bucket that pulled the Miners to within one at 47-46 at the end.

"At halftime, coach (Casey) gave us a big talk," said Werner, who finished with a game-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers. "Coming in, we knew we could win this game, so he kind of lit a fire and we just brought it in the second half."

Enterprise opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from Demarreya Lewis-Cooper and later extended their lead to 55-50 with a 3-ball from Kobe Fuller.

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That's when Werner went to work again, driving to the hoop, getting the bucket and the foul. He would make the free throw, and shortly after hit a 3-pointer to put NU up for the first time since the first quarter. Werner then found Japhet-Gekas, who sank a 3-pointer to put NU up 59-55.

The Hornets would not go quietly though, as a pair of 3-pointers from fuller tied the game at 61-61. Enterprise then took the lead on a 3-pointer from Adam Schoff to go up 64-61 with 1:40 left in the game.

Werner responded with a 3-pointer with 1:15 left on the clock. He then sank a pair of free throws with 23.6 seconds left to give the Miners the 66-64 edge.

"Last year was a difficult year for Ryan, he didn't play much," said Casey. "But he hung in there, kept working hard, talked to us a lot, and waited for his chance and look at what he's doing for us. A great leader for us. So proud of him."

Enterprise hoisted up a 3-pointer on its next possession, but it was off the mark and NU freshmen Milo Goehring pulled down the rebound to seal the victory.

"It means a lot," Werner said of the win. "Coming off two losses in a row, it's good to get a win, especially with a tough preseason coming up."

Making the win all the more impressive is the Miners did it without their leading scorer this season, who sat with an injury.

In addition to Werner, the Miners got strong showings from Goehring with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Japhet-Gekas with eight points, Jordan Mills with four points and solid defense all game, and Ty Daugherty with five points and some key rebounds down the stretch.

After the game, Casey said the game was a big step in the right direction for his squad.

"It's a huge confidence booster and there's trust now, trust that they can do it, trust in what we're doing, and trust in each other," he said.

The Miners will face Reed (Sparks, Nevada) in a second round matchup at 6:45 p.m. today at Albert Ali Gymnasium. Reed beat El Camino in its first round matchup.

"It's a pretty stacked tournament," said Werner. "So, we have to keep shooting the ball well and play as a team. We got the pieces, so we can do it."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

MINERS 66, HORNETS 64

STAT LEADERS

NU: Ryan Werner – 33 points, 5 3-pointers

NU: Milo Goehring – 16 points, 10 rebounds

NU: Riley Japhet-Gekas – 8 points

E: Kobe Fuller – 19 points

E: Demarreya Lewis-Cooper – 14 points

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