BOYS BASKETBALL: Nevada squad slams Havasu
BULLHEAD CITY — The final outcome between the Lake Havasu boys basketball team and SLAM Academy out of Henderson, Nevada in the Holiday Hoops Tournament at Mohave High on Saturday essentially came down to one thing — free throws.
Unfortunately for the Knights, they lost that battle and ended up losing to the Bulls 45-34 to get knocked out of the tournament.
“Foul trouble killed us,” Lake Havasu coach Ted Darnell said. “We had two of our starters on the bench for a quarter and a half because they had trouble with fouls. (SLAM) was really good at drawing fouls but I thought the fouls were about even on both sides.
“Our chemistry was just off. We didn’t shoot the ball very well and we turned the ball over too much, again. So all of those things lead to being beaten by 11 points.”
In nine trips to the free-throw line, the Knights went 7 for 16. The Bulls made 17 trips to the line and sunk 18 of 32 foul shots.
It was apparent from the beginning the game would be decided by free throws after the Bulls chewed into a 7-0 Knights run with three straight trips to the line by making all but one of the six shots.
The rest of the game played out looked like a meticulous chess match.
Down by four going into the second half, Havasu and SLAM exchanged point after and no runs were established. Each possession was slowly taken to the top of the 3-point arc and passed around until an opening was found. By the time the third quarter ended, the Bulls only outscored the Knights 11-7.
It picked up in fourth, however, with SLAM going on a 13-5 run to start the final quarter. Before Havasu knew it, the Bulls had enough breathing room to run out the clock. Although SLAM still drove to the basket in the final minutes, it was even more meticulous than before to ensure the Knights never had any chance of a comeback.
This season, and in the Holiday Hoops Tournament in particular, Havasu has been hot and cold with its performances. One night the Knights could be outscoring opponents by 30 points. Another, they could be on the other side of that 30-point beating.
But just like Saturday’s loss was decided by one thing, an explanation for the Knights inconsistency according to Darnell also comes down to one thing — defense.
“Honestly, you’re going to games where you’re hot or cold but the one thing that you can control is the defensive effort,” Darnell said. “If you play good, consistent defense every single night, sometimes that offense will take care of itself. You can have a bad shooting night but playing good defense keeps you in the game. The defense wasn’t there for us.”
Despite not playing in the second quarter, Noah Boyd led Havasu offensively with 14 points including two 3-pointers. Andrew Ortega scored four points and Cole Wade, Trevor Bradshaw and Will Prater each added three.
The loss puts the Knights at 6-8 overall this season but Havasu will look to get back to its winning ways after the holiday break when it travels to Mohave Valley on Jan. 7 to face River Valley.