In the big picture of what occurred Thursday, the first basket scored by Clark’s boys basketball team was worth only two points.
But when Colby Jackson found Ty’Rek Wells for an alley-oop dunk after the Chargers won the opening tip, the impact of the play went beyond the scoreboard.
“It’s a nice way to start a game off,” Clark coach Chad Beeten said. “We know what we need to do on offense, but the energy from the crowd gets you going on the defensive end. There’s no doubt that has an effect on the momentum of the game.”
Sparked by Wells’ high-flying start, the host Chargers never trailed and rolled to a 64-49 victory over Faith Lutheran to clinch the outright Division I-A Sunset League title.
Jackson finished with 21 points, five assists and two steals for No. 8 Clark (18-8, 13-1 Sunset), which extended its winning streak to nine games and avenged a 66-61 loss to the Crusaders on Jan. 21.
Top-seeded Clark will host Virgin Valley, the No. 4 seed from the Sunrise League, at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the opening round of the Division I-A Southern Region tournament.
“It’s always our goal to win the division first, and then the playoffs is another season,” Beeten said. “We took care of business.”
Darius Jackson had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Wells added nine points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots as Clark shot 50 percent (22-for-44) from the field. The Chargers also got a lift from reserve James Bridges, who had three of his team’s six first-half 3-pointers and finished with nine points.
“I knew after the last time we played them that we were going to give a better defensive effort,” Beeten said. “I didn’t know we would execute on offense like that. The kids made me look good, because everything we called, they ran, and they got a good shot.”
John Molchon had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Jaylen Fox added 11 points, four assists and three rebounds for Faith Lutheran (19-7, 12-2).
The game featured only one tie (3-3), and after Colby Jackson’s 3-pointer with 1:45 left in the second quarter put Clark ahead 30-19, the Chargers led by double digits for the remainder of the game.
Clark’s biggest lead was 19 points on two occasions, the last coming on Colby Jackson’s two free throws with 1:24 left in the fourth that made the score 62-43. Jackson was 10-for-11 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to make sure we guarded the 3-point line because we got killed on that last time,” Beeten said. “We made them work to get everything they got.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.