RENO — There was a moment Thursday when Green Valley’s boys basketball team could have shut down and started pondering what went wrong.
Instead, the Gators fought until the bitter end.
Green Valley trailed by as many as 18 points but had two shots in the final five seconds to take the lead or tie. But both attempts rimmed out, and Hug held on for a 70-68 victory over the Gators in the Class 4A state semifinals at Lawlor Events Center.
The Hawks (24-3) will play Bishop Gorman (27-4) in the title game at 8 p.m. Friday.
“We had a chance to win the game, so that’s all you can ask for as a coach and as a player is an opportunity,” Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis said. “And we had it.”
Durrell McDonald, who has committed to DePaul, had 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals for the Gators. He started their comeback by scoring eight points in the fourth quarter, including a three-point play with 1:29 to go that cut the Hawks’ lead to 63-57.
Though McDonald, Green Valley’s top scorer, fouled out with 1:27 left, the game didn’t get away from the Gators.
“Most teams would have folded,” Jarvis said. “You lose your best player, but we keep fighting. That’s the way we fight.”
Ikaika Pladera scored the Gators’ next five points, cutting their deficit to 65-62 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:08 to play.
Hug pushed the lead back to five, but Bryce Larsen hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to get Green Valley within 67-65 with 45 seconds left.
After Hug’s Andrew Johnson made two free throws, Pladera drove and dished to Larsen in the right corner, and he knocked down another 3-pointer to make it 69-68 with 29 seconds to go.
“He’s that type of kid,” Jarvis said of Larsen, who hadn’t scored until the final 45 seconds. “He lives for the moment. When the moment presents itself, he’s ready. He was ready to take the big shot. He has no fear.”
After Johnson made 1 of 2 free throws, Larsen missed another 3-pointer, and Sam Williams rebounded for Hug and was fouled.
But Williams missed both foul shots with 10.6 seconds, leaving the Gators one final chance.
Pladera drove into the lane but had to kick the ball out. Lorenzo Jarvis Jr. fired a 3-pointer form the right wing that rimmed off. Devan Kohn grabbed the weak-side rebound, but his put-back rolled off the rim at the buzzer.
“They gave it all they’ve got tonight, and unfortunately it fell the way it fell,” coach Jarvis said. “Sometimes you don’t make the last shot. You just have to live with that.”
The Gators dug themselves an early hole with poor shooting. They were 19-for-60 from the field over the first three quarters.
“We don’t want to make excuses,” coach Jarvis said. “We came out and were a little sluggish and weren’t playing the way we normally play. You can make every excuse in the world, and it doesn’t matter. You have a chance to win the game, you have to take care of that opportunity. If it doesn’t happen, you live with it, you own it and you move on.”
Kohn had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Pladera had 13 points and five assists. Brandon Hoisington added 16 rebounds for the Gators.
Johnson led Hug with 23 points and seven assists, and Williams had 21 points and 10 rebounds.