RENO — Clark boys basketball coach Chad Beeten could have thought up many different scenarios for his team in the Division I-A state championship game.
Not even in his wildest dreams could he have envisioned holding Desert Pines to 17 points through three quarters. Or holding the Jaguars’ leading scorer to zero points through three quarters.
Until it happened.
The Chargers effectively milked the clock with a patient offense and played suffocating defense on their way to a 43-39 win over Desert Pines on Saturday at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center. Clark (22-9) won its third straight Division I-A state title.
“Not quite that possible, no,” Beeten said. “I thought we had a really good defensive game plan. But, no, you don’t ever think it’s going to be that effective.”
Fresh off a 47-43 loss to Desert Pines in last week’s Southern Region final, the Chargers learned and adjusted.
Capri Uzan, the Jaguars’ leading scorer at 16.3 points per game in the regular season, had 20 points in the region final. He didn’t score his first point Saturday until 3:03 remained in the game.
“We just played defense,” Clark senior guard Keyshaun Webb said. “We learned from the first game. We had to play this game at our pace.”
Without Uzan, the Jaguars (22-9) had nothing going offensively, scoring nine first-half points and 17 through three quarters, including only four in the paint. Clark took a 31-17 lead into the fourth.
“That’s always our goal, to guard the paint,” Beeten said. “And especially with DP is because that’s what they like to do. I don’t think someone is going to beat us from three. If they do, sometimes you lose games. They just kept (Desert Pines) out of the paint.”
Clark committed only four turnovers in the first three quarters, at times taking almost two minutes off the clock in a possession.
“We knew they would come chase us around, and on the bigger floor, we said we’re going to play in space and take up as much time as we can until we got the greatest shot we could get,” Beeten said. “You can tell them all you want, but if they don’t do it, they don’t do it. They did it.”
Desert Pines crept within 37-33 on two free throws by Uzan with 24.8 seconds left.
But Darius Jackson, Webb and Trey Woodbury combined to go 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 22.9 seconds to seal the win.
Jackson and Webb are the only two seniors on a team that has seven freshmen and four sophomores. Four of the team’s top six players are freshmen or sophomores.
“We learned how to be great leaders from Colby (Jackson), and Carter (Olsen) and Ty’Rek (Wells),” Webb said of three seniors from last year’s team. “Being here four years we learned a lot, and we just want to get them here again next year.”
Webb finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Trey Woodbury came off the bench to score 14, and Jackson had 10 points.
“It’s hard work winning one (title), let alone three,” Beeten said.
Greg Floyd led Desert Pines with 12 points, but fouled out with 3:07 left. Uzan finished with 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting, hitting two 3-pointers in the final five seconds.
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at email@example.com or 702-387-5230.