Down to the wire
For four quarters Tuesday night, Nevada Union’s Jon Sheets witnessed McClatchy’s Don Willis play master thief.
Willis stole everything in sight in the second quarter, guiding his team to a 13-point halftime lead. And midway through the fourth quarter, Willis hit a pair of treys to steal the momentum from NU, which appeared to be well on its way from turning the sizable halftime deficit into a victory equally as large.
But with the game on the line, Sheets returned the favor. His 15-foot baseline jumper with 26 seconds left stole the hearts of everyone in the gym in one fashion or another and lifted NU to a 51-50 Metro League victory at Nevada Union High School.
The NU win avenges an earlier four-point loss to McClatchy and improves Miners’ record to 5-3 in league play, 15-9 overall. With the defeat, McClatchy drops to 6-3 in league, 12-14 overall.
“That was awesome,” said Sheets, who finished with 13 points. “That is what anyone should want, to have the ball in their hands with the game on the line. And I had a good look at the basket.”
Just as the game appeared to be slipping away in the third quarter, NU turned the tide and fought its way back into contention. Forward Tony Parilo, who scored only four of his game-high 19 points in the first half, did his best to take over the game in the third quarter.
A Doug Black steal set up a Parilo dunk over a McClatchy defender as part of a three-point play with 2:59 left in the quarter. Parilo scored again off a turnover, cutting McClatchy’s lead to seven.
The quarter ended, aptly enough, with two Parilo free throws followed by another Black steal at the buzzer to cut the lead to 41-37.
“The only adjustment we made at halftime was that I told the kids I wanted Tony to get at least one touch each time down the floor,” NU coach Jeff Dellis said. “And we are really happy for Doug. He had that (third-quarter) three-pointer and another basket in the fourth, which were big time plays for us.”
NU recaptured the lead in the fourth quarter on a drive by Sheets with 6:40 left in the quarter.
The Miners would up the lead to seven on a Parilo lay-up, but Willis responded with back-to-back treys and a block of a Sheets’ shot to put McClatchy right back in the game.
“I’ve seen Willis play probably eight times this year, and I’ve seen nothing less than what he gave tonight,” Dellis said. “He is so low to the ground, our guys had a hard time staying with him.”
A pair of Willis free throws gave McClatchy a 50-49 lead with 3:06 left.
Surprisingly, it would be the last points scored before Sheets’ game-winner, fed by teammate Chase Fleming just as he was about to be clamped with a double-team.
“I thought they made a big mistake of doubling (Chase),” Dellis said. “Chase’s court vision has improved so much this year, and Jon is such a clutch shooter. Part of that, I think, is from his extensive experience in athletics.”
Dellis said little to his team at halftime, and did not ramble after the game was salvaged, either.
“I told them their success tonight was the result of hard work and heart,” Dellis said. “And that we’ll regroup again tomorrow.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Little League District 11 postseason is off to a hot start.