Miners make statement on road
STOCKTON – Senior guard Jared Vogel said his Nevada Union boys basketball team was looking to make a statement. And it did.
The statement read: Watch out for the Miners at ARCO Arena.
With a dominating 59-46 win Tuesday night against No. 10 Grace Davis at the Spanos Center at the University of Pacific, No. 2 Nevada Union secured a trip to the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals at 9 p.m. Thursday at ARCO Arena.
“We came out with a vengeance,” Vogel said. “We haven’t made it past this round (the second) in six years.”
Nevada Union never trailed in the game, setting the tone early with a hard-nosed defensive presence, coupled with in-your-face ball pressure. The Miners forced the Spartans into 10 turnovers and a 17.4 field goal percentage in the first half.
Senior standout Tyler Smith came out firing, scoring nine of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter, propelling his team to a 17-9 lead after one quarter.
The Miners increased the lead to 16 after holding the Spartans to just four second-quarter points to lead 29-13 going in halftime.
Credit sophomore center Zach Spencer coming off the bench to disrupt Grace Davis down low – the only area of the court the Spartans seemed to enjoy any success.
After Grace Davis post player Ryan Ghazaeri scored the first 11 points for his team – including all nine of his team’s first quarter points – Spencer held him scoreless for the remainder of the half. Spencer had five rebounds and three blocks during his nine first-half minutes.
“Spence did a really good job on (Ghazaeri),” Nevada Union coach Jeff Dellis said. “We didn’t expect (Ghazaeri) to be that tough.”
Not only was Spencer a factor in disrupting any sort of offensive flow the Spartans could muster, but Vogel, David Weberg and Travis Edwards created havoc at every turn as well.
Weberg consistently forced Grace Davis guards into dribbling guffaws, while Vogel and Edwards each finished with three steals. Vogel took two charges, while Weberg took one as well.
“Boy, what a great defensive team,” Grace Davis coach Dan Pacheco said. “Their knowledge of the fundamentals of the game – that’s usually done with great coaching.”
Nevada Union’s defensive play was impressive in its own right, but even more so in the absence of defensive catalyst and starter James Brindley. The senior guard suffered a fairly serious injury during the weekend and was unable to play against Grace Davis.
A blister on Brindley’s right heel became infected, resulting in a staph infection close to his Achilles’ heel. Brindley went to the doctor Sunday and hopes to be off of crutches today. His playing status for Thursday is still in doubt.
The Miners went into the fourth quarter with a 48-27 lead. Grace Davis did cut into the lead a bit in the final quarter, but came no closer than 11 points.
Smith added eight rebounds to his 19 points, as well as two assists and two steals. Vogel finished with 17 points, with Weberg the only other Miner in double figures with 11 points.
Kevin Nelson, in a bit of foul trouble throughout the game, totaled five points, five rebounds and three assists.
Ghazaeri led Grace Davis with 17 points.
The Miners face Tokay on Thursday at ARCO Arena after the Tigers beat Fairfield 78-66 in the game immediately following Nevada Union’s on Tuesday.
Last season, the No. 16 Miners came within two points of knocking No. 1 Tokay out of the playoffs in the first round. Nevada Union ended up losing 63-61 in overtime. It’s no secret that the players are looking forward to a rematch.
To contact sports writer Stacy Hicklin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4244.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.