Reaching a state tournament can feel more meaningful if it comes after years of struggle to get there.
Just ask Ivan Maldonado, one of four senior starters for Beatty’s boys basketball team.
“It just feels like heaven,” Maldonado said after emerging from a jubilant celebration in the locker room.
Beatty used a suffocating defense to run away with a 54-40 win over Spring Mountain in the semifinals of the Class 1A Southern League playoffs Friday at Sunrise Mountain.
With the win, the Hornets (20-10) advanced to the league title game against defending state champion Pahranagat Valley (23-4) at 1:40 p.m. today at Durango. Both teams have clinched automatic berths to next week’s 1A state tournament.
Beatty will play in a state tournament for the first time since the 1996-97 season, when it won the 2A championship.
“Just getting these kids over the hump, who knows what they’re going to do next?” Beatty coach Brian Hayes said. “We’ve been on the cusp, and now we’re there.
“When I first came out to this school, we were perennial losers. But we got a group of kids who battle, and this is the culmination of putting a lot of work in.”
Maldonado had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets. Ramiro Hernandez added nine points for Beatty, which got eight points, five rebounds and two steals from Anthony Turner.
“I look down my bench, and everybody does a job,” Hayes said.
Maldonado, Hernandez and Turner have started for Beatty since they were freshmen. They’ve watched the team go from 6-15 three years ago to the state tournament as seniors.
“To go my senior year, it’s even better,” Maldonado said. “We’ve got the monkey off our backs, so it feels good.”
A runner by Ivan Hernandez capped a 27-12 run the Hornets used to build a 54-33 lead in the fourth quarter.
Maurice Williams led Spring Mountain (11-14) with 14 points. Devante Rash had six points and eight rebounds for the Eagles.
Pahranagat Valley 59, Round Mountain 35 — Cody Hosier scored 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter to help the top-seeded Panthers eliminate the fifth-seeded Knights (13-11).
Hosier hit three 3-pointers as part of a 20-4 run to open the game for Pahranagat Valley, which led 38-14 at halftime.
Jeremy Roemer supplied 11 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers, who held Round Mountain to 11-for-46 shooting (23.9 percent).
Serjio Chavez had 17 points for the Knights, and teammate Mitchell Doheny scored 10.
Tonopah 44, Beatty 38 — The Muckers closed overtime on an 8-0 run to oust the Hornets.
Second-seeded Tonopah (11-6) advanced to meet No. 1 seed Pahranagat Valley (16-8) in the league title game at noon today at Durango. Both teams have clinched trips to the 1A state tournament.
Tonopah’s Britney Klapper made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 1:37 of overtime to help seal the win.
"I think it was perfect," Muckers coach Eddie Cobb said of his team’s performance in overtime. "Going to overtime, I thought we could win the game because we’re in good shape."
Alli Friel scored eight points to lead Tonopah. Courtney Bottom added seven points for the Muckers, and Klapper finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Alyssa Regalado paced Beatty (12-11) with 14 points and six rebounds.
Pahranagat Valley 54, Indian Springs 31 — Freshman Traci Strong scored 11 points to lead the balanced Panthers past the Thunderbirds.
Halie Lewis scored nine points for Pahranagat Valley, which closed the first half on a 25-4 run to build a 32-8 lead.
Kennedy Huntsman, Bailee Hosier and Alyssa Higbee added eight points each for the Panthers.
Alexxa Reinke led Indian Springs (13-8) with 14 points. Karys Melgoza added 11 points for the Thunderbirds.