It was deja vu all over again Saturday for Clark’s boys basketball team in the title game of the Las Vegas Prep Championship at Las Vegas High.
In Friday’s semifinals, the Chargers jumped to a big lead early, withstood a big rally and then drained key free throws down the stretch to win in overtime.
On Saturday against Valley, Clark also seized a big early lead, only to see the Vikings storm back and erase it.
And while the game didn’t go into overtime, the Chargers played staunch defense and made just enough free throws down the stretch to overcome Valley and win the championship game, 68-57.
Winning this season also is nothing new for the Chargers (15-1), who notched their ninth straight victory, but coach Chad Beeten said learning to win close games in a tournament format was an important step for this year’s squad.
“Going to an overtime game last night and winning with free throws, and then coming back again and just making enough today, that shows resiliency,” Beeten said. “It takes mentally tough kids to do that, and that is what we have been working on.”
Tournament Most Valuable Player Sir Washington and Carter Olsen scored 15 points apiece to pace the Chargers. Colby Jackson added 13 points, and Sherron Wilson scored 12.
After Ryan Johnson’s steal and layup gave the Vikings a 41-40 lead with 3:17 left in the third quarter, Jackson hit a jumper and a layup to ignite a 10-2 run to end the period and put Clark up 51-43.
The Chargers then turned up the defense in the fourth quarter, allowing Valley (11-4) just two baskets and two free throws in the first 6½ minutes of the period, and Clark extended its lead to 59-49.
“We have been teaching the kids with defensive pressure, it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Beeten said. “If you keep up the pressure, teams will start to fade. And we are becoming a good rebounding team. And we have been doing that, so I’m proud of our guys for that.”
Clark connected on 10 of 16 free throws in the final 1:40.
Cameron Burton scored 21 points and Spencer Mathis 13 to lead the Vikings.
Washington scored the game’s first two baskets and sparked the Chargers to a 21-5 lead, while their defense forced Valley to miss 14 of its first 17 shots.
“I don’t think we played up to our capabilities, but it was also the fifth game in four days for both teams,” Beeten said. “But what we have talked about with these guys is you can always defend and you can always rebound.
“I don’t remember the last time we let a team get out of the 50s. So if that is our staple, if we can keep teams in the 50s, we are going to have a chance to win games.”
Redemption Christian (N.Y.) 71, Eldorado 47 – Angel Delgado scored 26 points to lead Redemption over the Sundevils in the third-place game.
Eldorado trailed by six at the half, but Delgado scored the first six points of the third quarter to kick off a 15-4 run to push the Redemption lead to 49-32.
Jayveon Brown had 15 points, and Darrion Daniels had 10 points to lead the Sundevils.
Las Vegas 80, Legacy 56 – Re’Kwon Smith scored 17 points to lead the host Wildcats to a win in the fifth-place game.
The Longhorns closed the Las Vegas lead to four points in the third quarter, but Smith scored back-to-back baskets to spark the Wildcats’ 13-2 run to open the fourth quarter that put Las Vegas in command, 71-48.
Aziz Leeks had 16 points for the Wildcats.
Donavon Gray scored 22 to lead Legacy.
Mojave 55, El Rancho (Calif.) 52 – Marcus Harris had 22 points to lead the Rattlers to victory in the ninth-place game.
Jason Wallace added 12 points for Mojave.
Emilo Burgos scored 20 to lead El Rancho.