Desert Pines boys basketball coach Mike Uzan said he doesn’t believe in moral victories.
He might after Saturday night.
Uzan’s Jaguars nearly pulled off the unthinkable, leading top-ranked Findlay Prep for much of the game before falling 64-62 to the Pilots in the Penny Hardaway Hoopfest at Coronado.
“They gave it everything,” Uzan said. “We had the final shot to win the game, and it was a 3-pointer, it was just what we needed, and it just didn’t fall, and that’s how it goes.”
The Jaguars (21-3) led for much of the game before a 10-0 run gave the Pilots (25-0) a 63-54 lead with 2:41 to play.
But Julian Jacobs hit a 3-pointer to ignite Desert Pines. Jacobs hit two free throws with 1:06 to play to cut the lead to 64-60, and then hit a driving layup with 43 seconds left to make it 64-62.
After Christian Wood was called for traveling, the Jaguars had two final chances. Jacobs drove and dished to Coby Myles, who missed a 3-pointer from the corner, and Malik Davis’ follow was no good as time expired.
“We definitely had a chance to win it at the end,” Jacobs said. “We were a little rattled when we got the call. It was a good look. We just wanted to capitalize, but unfortunately we didn’t get the shot.”
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half to lead the Pilots, who are ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today. Wood had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Pilots.
Jacobs finished with 21 points, four rebounds and seven assists to pace the Jaguars. Myles added 18 points for Desert Pines, which had won eight straight.
“With us, we had nothing to lose,” Jacobs said. “We just had to come out and compete. The main thing that stuck with us, is (Uzan) said shock the world. That’s what we tried to do. We just wanted to come out and compete and show we’re an elite-level team.”
The Jaguars don’t compete at the state’s highest division, but will be one of the favorites in Division I-A. And Jacobs thinks Saturday’s performance will help keep others from overlooking Desert Pines.
“I hope they don’t overlook us because of what division we’re in,” Jacobs said. “Because we’re just as good as anyone out here. We’re well-coached, and if you just come out and compete and play hard, the results show.”
The loss to Findlay was the first against a Nevada team for Desert Pines. And the Pilots aren’t eligible to compete for a state title.
“No one in this city’s beat us except for Findlay Prep,” Uzan said. “The teams that beat us were out-of-state teams, and they were all one-point losses. So tonight we suffered a two-point loss from the No. 1 team in the country.”
Clark 62, Las Vegas 58 — Sherron Wilson left the floor late in the third quarter with blood pouring from his nose. That didn’t stop the junior from mixing it up inside when Clark needed him most.
Playing with his left nostril packed, Wilson made a tip-in with 1:06 left to give the Chargers their first second-half lead, and they held on for their 18th consecutive victory.
“That’s mental toughness, bouncing back from that,” Clark coach Chad Beeten said. “You get popped in the nose like he did, and it was bad. He just came back and made a play.”
Before Wilson’s basket, the Chargers (24-1) hadn’t led since 23-20 with 2:39 to go in the first half.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of our kids how they handled the adversity the whole second half,” Beeten said. “We never panicked. We never rushed things.”
Though the Wildcats were in control, they never led by more than eight in the second half. Junior forward Diontae Jones helped keep Clark close, scoring 14 of his 18 points after halftime.
Jones, a 6-foot-6-inch junior, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“He’s just tough,” Beeten said. “He epitomizes what we try to teach. Hopefully that’s what’s rubbing off the most from me. I don’t care about the basketball as much as the toughness part of it for him.”
After Wilson’s tip, Colby Jackson made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 27.8 seconds to help seal the win. Clark was 20 of 22 at the foul line.
Las Vegas (16-9) made it interesting late when Devon Colley hit two pull-up 3-pointers, the second cutting Clark’s lead to 59-58 with three seconds to play.
Jackson hit a free throw with 2.9 seconds left to make the score 60-58, but Las Vegas’ Re’Kwon Smith rebounded his miss on the second attempt. The Wildcats called timeout with 2.5 seconds, but
Carter Olsen stole the long inbound pass and hit two foul shots for the final margin.
Jackson had 15 points, and Sir Washington added 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for Clark.
“We wanted to make sure we got a really good team prior to playoffs,” Beeten said. “It’s been a few games since we’ve had a close game
“You’ve got to figure out how to win close games, especially when it comes to playoffs. You’re not always going to shoot well. You’re not always going to play great.”
Juwan Major led Las Vegas with 14 points. Colley scored 13 and Aziz Leeks 11.
White Station (Tenn.) 83, Foothill 70 — LeRon Black had 22 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots as the Spartans beat the Falcons.
Game MVP Chris Chiozza added 17 points, nine assists and four steals for White Station, which led by as much as 17 in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons did make a comeback late, cutting the lead to 74-66 on a 3-pointer by Matt Rapp with 1:55 to play, but Foothill got no closer.
Elijah Smith had 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and five steals for Foothill. Rapp added 15 points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter, and teammate Torrance Littles scored 11.
Nych Smith added 19 points, and Evan Moorman scored 12, all on 3-pointers, for the Spartans.
Moorman hit three 3-pointers in a 40-second span in the second quarter to help White Station take control.
Ribet Academy (Calif.) 71, Palo Verde 60 — Bono Zekan had 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot to lead the Fighting Frogs over the Panthers.
Brandon Robinson scored 24 points and hit five 3-pointers for Ribet, which dressed just six players. Robinson hit all five 3-pointers in the first half, and had 19 points at the break to lead the Fighting Frogs to a 43-32 lead.
Eris Winder led Palo Verde with 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Simeon (Ill.) 80, Coronado 33 — Jabari Parker had 23 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot as Simeon, ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today, rolled.
The Duke-bound Parker was 7-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Simeon was 31-for-45 from the field (68.9 percent).
Kendrick Nunn added 16 points, and Russell Woods scored 13 for Simeon.
Justice Augmon led Coronado with 11 points and four rebounds.