Last stop – NU falls in first round of playoffs
MODESTO – It’s over.
The ninth-seeded Nevada Union boys basketball team’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Playoff run ended before it got a chance to gather a head of steam with a 59-54 first-round loss to No.8 Beyer (Modesto) Friday.
“This is a tough way to end our season, especially because we played our hearts out,” said NU senior post Jarad Van Matre, who finished with 10 points and a team-best nine rebounds. “Over the summer, some of us had low expectations about this season, but I thought we really came together and bonded as a team. We surpassed everybody’s expectations.”
Miner head coach Jeff Dellis agreed.
“No one picked us to do anything this year. But what’s important is the boys came out and won (a share of the) league title,” he said.
In a showdown of league champions, the Metro Conference co-champion Miners kept the Central California Conference’s top team at arm’s length for most of the first three and a half quarters thanks in part to the play of Van Matre, as well as Brennan McFadden and Tyler Smith in the paint.
Up by just a deuce early in the final stanza, the visitors got four straight points from Smith and a low-post bucket from McFadden to build a six-point lead.
It didn’t last though, as the hosts scored on four of their next five possessions, including a trio of 3-pointers, to take a 55-52 lead with two minutes, 51 seconds left in the game.
The Miners cut the lead to a point on a Zane Edwards short-range jumper 30 seconds later, but that was as close as they got.
Beyer scored four straight points to end the game and close the book on the Miners’ season.
“The main thing about this game is whenever they had a run, we answered. Right up until the fourth quarter,” Dellis said. “But you’ve got to hand it to (Beyer). They shot the lights out. We didn’t play badly, they played (great). I was happy with our play out there.”
Van Matre said the boisterous home crowd must have given its team a lift.
“They shot 85 percent in the fourth quarter. We didn’t have an answer for that. The home-court advantage definitely (played a role in that),” he said.
Smith, a sophomore, finished with a team-high 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. McFadden was right behind with 15 points.
Archie Pearson chipped in five points, including a 3-pointer, in the loss. Edwards totaled four points. Scott Kerksieck and Colt Stafford had two points each.
Stafford also had a pair of assists.
Despite the rough night, Dellis was upbeat.
“We’re really looking forward to next year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of returners who saw a lot of playing time this year.”
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