Kennedy nips Miners down stretch
Basketball fans on both sides of the Nevada Union boys basketball team’s homecourt showdown with Kennedy of Sacramento got value from their admission tickets Friday.
They saw tough-as-nails defense, a breakaway dunk and last-second heroics on both sides.
The only bad news for NU (11-8 overall, 2-2 Metro League) fans was the final score.
The Cougars, who took their first lead with just over a minute left in regulation, survived shaky free throw shooting down the stretch to earn the 65-62 win.
“Looking at the fourth quarter, we came down the court three times down five points and didn’t get a look at the basket. We could have thrown it in right there, but we gathered it up and kept on going,” Kennedy head coach Dennis Lomack said. “Tonight was a big win. Any time you get a win on the road against the No. 1 team in the Metro right now is big.”
NU head coach Jeff Dellis wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, but the atmosphere in Ali Gymnasium helped dull the pain.
“It’s so nice to see a big crowd out here. I felt they really got their money’s worth. Our kids played hard, athletically and intelligently and we had our way for three quarters and six minutes,” he said.
NU’s defensive game plan was to clip the wings of the high-flying Kennedy offense.
Kennedy looked to open it up early, but NU’s defense wasn’t having it.
The visitors were held to 11 first-quarter points and trailed by four points at the half.
“It was really a interesting contrast. Our job defensively is make teams set up. I think we’re fine if we can do that. And for most of the game, that was the case,” Dellis said. “They hit a couple of clutch shots and got out on us a couple of times. I just thought mentally we broke down a little bit at the end. But hey, they’re high school kids.”
NU took a two-point lead into the final eight minutes, but couldn’t shake the Cougars.
Kennedy’s Kyle Kelly, who scored a game-high 21 points, gave the visitors their first lead of the game on a pair of converted free throws with 1:20 left in the game.
The Cougar defense held, then Jordan Scott scored in the paint to give Kennedy a four-point cushion.
NU had 30 seconds to work with and Jon Sheets, who finished with 14 points, made the most of it.
The junior guard cut the lead to a point with 24 seconds left in regulation on a three-pointer from the left wing.
NU was forced to foul, but had a last gasp with six seconds as Kennedy only made two of four foul shots down the stretch.
The Miners had the ball under their own basket, down by three points, but turned the ball over on the inbound pass.
Tony Parilo, whose first-half dunk electrified the crowd, led the Miners with 20 points.
Kelib Thompson finished with 12 points. Cole Cooper and Doug Black tallied five points each.
Chase Fleming had four in the loss.
NU will host Johnson of Sacramento 7 p.m. today.
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The Nevada City Brewers left no doubt they were the top Junior Division team in Little League’s District 11.