Miners wrap up Metro crown
SACRAMENTO Ð When asked how he wanted to be remembered after his high basketball career was finished, Nevada Union’s Tyler Smith said simply, “A winner.”
With the Miners’ thrilling 64-63 win at Kennedy, Smith cemented that wish as the Miners won their first outright Metro League championship in recent years after the senior guard poured in 34 points, 11 rebounds and four steals.
“Big games are something different – you can’t hold anything back,” said Smith, the two-time reigning league Most Valuable Player. “In big games, big players have to take the big shots.”
Smith scored from all over the court, draining two 3-pointers in the final quarter, and finishing with 15 of his team’s 28 fourth-quarter points.
The Miners were up 58-45 with one minute, 43 seconds remaining in the game and looked to have it put away, but the Cougars stormed back fast and furious, hitting four 3-pointers in the final 1:06.
Kennedy’s Blake Johnson hit his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter with 10 seconds remaining to put his team behind by one, 64-63.
The Miners turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound pass to the far end of the court. Kennedy took possession of the ball in front of the NU bench with 4.5 seconds to go.
Labrent Chappell threw up an off balance runner in the lane that went wide of the basket and with it the Miners rushed the court to celebrate the win. Meanwhile, the Kennedy team lay strew across the court with their heads in their hands.
“I think two things happened at the end (for Kennedy to comeback),” Kennedy coach Al Seyford said. “A sense of urgency came over our guys and I think Nevada Union relaxed a bit. We needed to have that sense of urgency in the first quarter.”
Nevada Union began the game on a 12-0 run and led after one quarter 18-9. But shortly thereafter the Cougars threw a 2-3 zone at Nevada Union, which seemed to thwart the Miners’ productivity on the offensive end.
The Miners scored just nine points in each the second and third quarters.
“We struggled a bit, which was surprising considering how many shooters we have,” Nevada Union coach Jeff Dellis said. “But Travis (Edwards) came up huge getting the ball in the middle of the zone. Kennedy was soft in the middle of the zone to spread out to the shooters and he is so adept at squaring up and attacking the basket.”
Edwards finished with 10 points, eight of them coming in the final quarter, along with three steals, three rebounds and two assists.
Just five players scored for the Miners as Kevin Nelson scored six points with five rebounds and five assists while James Brindley had eight points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jared Vogel finished with six points.
Brindley, Smith and Edwards were also key in limiting last season’s co-MVP Zach Graves to eight points. Graves came into the game averaging 17.5 points per game.
This is Nevada Union’s fourth-straight Metro title, but the previous three were co-championships. Last season the Miners split the title with Kennedy, the year before with Yuba City and the year before that with Kennedy.
The Miners (20-7 overall and 10-1 Metro) host Yuba City at 7 p.m. Thursday for senior night and their final regular season game of the year.
JV: Kennedy 54, Nevada Union 47
The Nevada Union junior varsity team lost a tight game at Kennedy 54-47.
“We were down and we rallied, but we made critical mistakes down the stretch,” Nevada Union coach Dale Latimer said.
Latimer felt the game began to slip away during the second quarter after numerous turnovers, with Kennedy exploding for 19 points in the third quarter.
John Wivholm and Tim Conde both scored 13 points with Matt Anderson scoring 12 points.
The Miners fell to 14-11 and 10-3.
Frosh: Kennedy 59, Nevada Union 54
The Kennedy freshman team used a dose of strong shooting in the fourth quarter to edge Nevada Union 59-54.
“We played well overall and we had kids come off the bench and give us a big lift,” Nevada Union coach Gene Smith said.
Smith pointed out the effort of Garrett Smittle, who had eight points and rebounded well on the defensive end. He also mentioned the defensive efforts of Tyler Fredrickson and Marc Hopkinsin who held Kennedy’s leading scorer to six points.
To contact sportswriter Stacy Hicklin, she can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 477-4244.
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