Chad Beeten wants to clear up a common misconception about this season’s version of the Clark boys basketball team.
Sure, the Chargers don’t mind a high-scoring game now and then. But they’re built around defense.
“Last year was more of an offensive team,” Clark’s third-year coach said. “I don’t know if last year’s team could have won a game like this.”
Forced into a halfcourt game by Elko, the Chargers maintained their poise throughout and grinded out a 45-40 victory Friday in a Division I-A boys state semifinal at Del Sol.
Sir Washington scored eight of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter for Clark (29-2), which meets Desert Pines (27-3) in the championship game at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Orleans Arena. Clark is searching for its fifth state title and first since 1993.
“My guess is their game plan was they weren’t going to run up and down with us, which was evident in the second quarter,” Beeten said. “To our credit, we stayed disciplined, sat down and played defense.
“If we had an up-tempo team only, I don’t think we would win a game like that.”
The Chargers, who now have held 11 opponents to 40 points or less, took a 39-29 lead on Washington’s baseline jumper with 4:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. Elko (24-4) answered with a 9-1 run to cut the Chargers’ lead to 40-38, but sophomores Colby Jackson and Carter Olsen each went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line in the final 30.6 seconds for Clark.
Diontae Jones added nine points for the Chargers.
Nathan Klekas had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Indians, who shot 32.5 percent (13-for-40) from the floor.
“We wanted to go to the big, showtime game,” Washington said. “We worked hard every day in practice. Our defense is getting better each and every day.”
Desert Pines 68, Lowry 53 — Julian Jacobs was nearly on pace for a triple-double at halftime.
The Jaguars point guard spent most of the second half padding only one statistical category, though.
Jacobs, a Southern California signee, scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half, and Desert Pines pulled away from the Buckaroos (21-7) in the other semifinal. The 6-foot-3-inch Jacobs added six rebounds (four in the first half) and seven assists (all before the break).
“It was one of those games where it didn’t fall for us right away and we had to grind it out,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said. “They gave us little fits because of how well they shot the ball. We had to be patient defensively to withstand that.”
Lowry, which won the Class 3A state title last season, used an 11-0 run in the third quarter to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 39-38 with 3:28 left. Desert Pines closed the quarter on a 10-0 spurt, and Jacobs opened the fourth with a reverse jam after one of his five second-half steals to give the Jaguars a 51-38 lead.
Re’meake Keith added 12 points for Desert Pines, which led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter and forced 30 turnovers.
Jesse Studebaker led Lowry with 15 points but battled foul trouble. Tytus Millikan had 13 points and Josh Watterson 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckaroos.