PREP BASKETBALL: Nevada Union Miners sink Oakmont Vikings in league play
MINERS 60, VIKINGS 53
NU: D. O’Looney - 18 points, 6 rebs, 3 blks
NU: M. Goehring - 15 points, 7 rebs
Nu: R. Werner - 12 points, 5 assists
The Miners are at their best when they set the tempo, get the ball to their bigs and play good team defense.
Much to the pleasure of Nevada Union head coach Mark Casey, they did all three of those things Thursday night and earned a hard-fought Foothill Valley League win over the Oakmont Vikings, 60-53.
“That’s our style of game,” Casey said. “We talked exactly about a score like that at halftime. We said ‘we’re going to get in the 60s so as long as we can defend a little better and stop that middle attack we’re going to come away with this.’”
The victory for the Miners (8-12, 1-1 FVL) is their first in the FVL, a league they joined this season after 12 in the Sierra Foothill League.
“Feels good to get that first league win,” said senior forward David O’Looney, who scored a game-high 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and tallied three blocks.
Competing in the friendly confines of Albert Ali Gymnasium, the Miners jumped out to an 11-0 lead to open the game and never trailed throughout, but the Vikings (7-11, 0-2) were never too far behind.
“It was a gritty one,” Casey said. “(Oakmont) wouldn’t go away and kept making runs, but we answered their runs and that shows our maturity.”
The Miners led 13-9 after one quarter and went into halftime up 30-25, thanks to a big quarter from Milo Goehring. The freshman forward scored nine of his 15 points in the second quarter. He also pulled down seven rebounds in the game.
Oakmont would come even with NU at 34-34 in the third quarter. NU’s senior guard Ryan Werner broke that tie with a 3-pointer, which was followed by a Ty Daugherty bucket, and the Miners never trailed again.
Werner finished with 12 points and did a good job of distributing the ball, finishing with five assists.
The Miners extended their lead to 13 early in the fourth, but the Vikings continued to battle and brought their deficit down to six with about a minute left. But, clutch free throws from O’Looney and Riley Japhet-Gekas down the stretch sealed the victory for NU.
“Offensively we were getting what we wanted for the most part,” said Casey. “We didn’t shoot very well from the outside and that really hurt us, but thankfully our bigs were there and we got them the ball.”
The Miners controlled the tempo all night, taking their time to develop plays of offense and forcing the Vikings into tough shots on the other end.
“We’re maybe not super fun to watch offensively, but I think we’re decent at controlling tempo,” Casey said. “Tonight we got long possessions and we got buckets. That was good for us.”
Casey added getting the win was huge for the Miners, who hope to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“We know what we have to do to have some of our dreams,” Casey said. “Like any team, we got goals and I think we’re good enough to achieve them.”
In addition to O’Looney, Goehring and Werner, NU got points from Daugherty with six, Aidan Keros with five and Japhet-Gekas with four.
Oakmont was led by Jacob Key and Grahm Spitzer with 16 points each.
O’Looney said the win will help the Miners’ confidence as they battle through league play.
“It definitely makes a difference and helps us get that winning mentality,” he said. “We need to just keep going from here. We need to keep knocking down shots, playing hard defense and keep winning games.”
Next up for the Miners is a road game Tuesday against the Ponderosa Bruins (9-9-, 1-1) in Shingle Springs.
JV: OAKMONT 52, NEVADA UNION 43
The JV Miners couldn’t keep up with Oakmont Thursday night, falling by nine on their home court.
NU was led by Eli Jones with 15 points.
The loss drops the JV Miners to 13-6 overall and 0-1 in league play.
The Miners were solid in non-league play, going 13-5 including a tourney win at The Kendall Arnett Junior Varsity Invitational.
NU’s Charles Wilcoxen was named the Kendall Arnett MVP, and teammates Jaxon Horne and Jones were all-tourney selections.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Nevada Union Junior Miners Football and Cheer teams traveled on Saturday to Casa Roble High School in Orangevale to play the Casa Roble Junior Rams in Sacramento Youth Football League action.