Durango’s boys basketball team returned one player from last season and has two freshmen and two sophomores playing major minutes.
The Trailblazers grew up quickly Thursday night.
Returnee Anthony Hunter scored 30 points, and Durango survived a stretch with both starting guards on the bench with foul trouble to defeat visiting Desert Oasis, 71-61.
“It’s great to have a young team,” Durango coach DeShawn Henry said. “They’re inexperienced, but at the same time it’s nice because they don’t have a lot of bad habits. They just don’t know what they don’t know.”
Hunter, a junior, and sophomore point guard Keshon Gilbert both picked up their fourth foul within 11 seconds of each other in the third quarter. The Trailblazers played almost six minutes without either starting guard but managed to maintain their lead.
“As a competitor, of course I don’t want to be out of the game,” Hunter said. “But I have the utmost confidence in my backup guys. They go against me, and I go against them to get ready for situations like that.”
Freshman reserve Elijah Johnson took on primary ballhandling duties during that stretch and finished with 10 points off the bench.
“I was really proud of them, especially our freshman point guard coming off the bench, Elijah,” Hunter said. “He’s been really good being a sponge and just listening to everything I have to tell him and the coaches have to tell him.”
Hunter and Gilbert returned to the game with 6:41 to play. Gilbert fouled out 40 seconds later, but Hunter helped Durango hang on, scoring eight points in the fourth quarter. He added six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“He did a lot,” Henry said of Hunter. “He’s our leader. When he gets out there and does a bunch of different things — score, defend and do all that stuff — it really helps us.”
Kendrick Gilbert added 14 points and eight rebounds for Durango (1-2, 1-1 Southwest League).
Dominique Ford paced Desert Oasis with 18 points before fouling out with 5:50 to play. Kaydyn Koch added 17 points for the Diamondbacks (5-2, 1-1).