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DIVISION III BOYS: Walker too much down low as Stars top Battle Mountain

RENO — Agassi Prep boys basketball coach Trevor Diggs knows his team has been toughened by numerous close games this season. So when Battle Mountain made a run at the Stars on Friday, Diggs wasn’t worried.

OK, maybe he was a little.

“As a coach, you always worry,” Diggs said. “But we’ve been in battles all year. These guys hung together and hung strong.”

Deishuan Booker poured in a game-high 20 points, and the Stars overcame a poor stretch in the third quarter to earn a 61-52 victory over Battle Mountain in the semifinals of the Division III state tournament at North Valleys High.

Agassi Prep (25-1), which has won 18 straight games, will go after its first state title since 2011 when it meets Incline (23-6) in the final at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.

Dennis Walker added 18 points and 16 rebounds for Agassi Prep, and Kobe Williams supplied 14 points, including a 7-for-10 effort from the free-throw line in the final 2 minutes, 31 seconds of the fourth quarter.

The Stars were 10-for-14 from the line in the fourth quarter after struggling there during the opening three quarters.

Battle Mountain (18-11) struggled to contain Walker down low, and the Stars fed him to start the third quarter. Walker had a three-point play to open the quarter, and his bucket after a nice spin move gave Agassi Prep a 30-18 lead just one minute into the third.

“That’s part of coaching,” Diggs said. “When you see something, you want to milk it.”

But Dominic Valles triggered a 12-3 Longhorns run over the next five minutes that cut Agassi Prep’s lead to 33-30 and gave Diggs a bit of sweat.

As it turned out, he had nothing to be concerned about. Agassi Prep answered with a 14-5 spurt and was up 47-35 after Walker’s putback with 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Booker’s block led to his layup for a 51-37 advantage before he fouled out with 3:25 left. Stephan Laushaul had nine boards and four steals for Agassi Prep, and teammate Darius Coaxum pulled down eight boards.

Jake Johnson led Battle Mountain with 16 points.

“I know what to expect from my guys,” Diggs said. “I didn’t expect them to fold. They came out with the resiliency they always had.”

Incline 98, The Meadows 89 — At North Valleys, Eric Hirsberg had a game-high 27 points, but the Mustangs (23-8) were unable to rally from a 22-point second-half deficit and lost to the Highlanders in the semifinals.

Brian Fridman posted 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Ethan Fridman supplied 23 points for The Meadows, which trailed 68-46 midway through the third before closing the quarter on a 14-2 run.

The Meadows got as close as 76-72 with 4:31 remaining on a 3-pointer by Brian Fridman, but Jack Clouthier hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 Highlanders run, and The Meadows never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

“That team is relentless,” Mustangs coach Gary Hannig said. “Every time we went on a little bit of a run, they hit a big shot.”

Clouthier led Incline with 26 points, including six of his team’s 13 3-pointers. Oren Porter and Alex Zissis each scored 19 for the Highlanders.

“We knew they were a volume-shooting team, and we knew they would take a ton of 3s,” Hannig said. “They dictated the pace of the game, and their guys got a lot of open looks.”

Brandon Rufty pulled down 11 rebounds to go with seven points for The Meadows, which was unable to overcome 27 turnovers.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Hannig said. “We have have seniors on this team, and we expected to come up here and win a state championship.”

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