Eldorado’s boys basketball team was coming off a seventh-place finish in the Northeast League last season, so it would be understandable if the Sundevils settled for just making the postseason this year.
Instead, they fought for a home playoff game and clinched one with a 63-47 road win over Chaparral on Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“Our division, it’s a tough division,” Eldorado coach Mike Uzan said. “And coming out with a home playoff game after not making the playoffs last year is what we’ve been working for all year long.”
Eldorado and Valley both finished 11-3 in the league, but the Sundevils (21-6 overall) swept the Vikings to earn the league’s No. 2 seed. Chaparral (13-14) finished tied with Las Vegas at 6-8 in the league, but the Wildcats claimed the league’s final playoff berth on a tiebreaker.
Eldorado overcame the absence of leading scorer and rebounder Curtis Stewart, who had to sit out after being ejected in the closing seconds of the Sundevils’ 66-62 victory over Valley on Wednesday.
“We believe in each other, and we play hard for each other,” Uzan said. “And Curt was with us on the phone and in spirit.”
Without the 6-foot-5-inch Stewart, the Sundevils spread the ball around on offense and crashed the boards as a group.
Julian Jacobs had 12 points to lead Eldorado offensively, and all eight Sundevils who played had five or more points.
Jacobs also was one of four players with five or more rebounds as the Sundevils topped Chaparral 35-27 on the boards. Zach Kirschbaum, a 6-8 senior, led the Cowboys in rebounds with 12.
“We knew that was going to be the key,” Uzan said. “Zach is real good, and we knew that for us to be successful tonight we had to dominate on the boards.”
Eldorado packed its 1-3-1 zone around Kirschbaum, who finished with 10 points and four blocked shots. The Sundevils always had plenty of bodies around Chaparral’s center whenever the Cowboys got him the ball.
Eldorado also thrived when the ball was in Jacobs’ hands. The sophomore point guard finished with six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. He attacked the basket, creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
“He’s very unselfish,” Uzan said. “That’s something that’s come natural to him, and he’s learning to get it within our offense, and that’s even better.”
DaQuon Thrower added 10 points and Thomas Hooper nine points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Sundevils.
Devonte White had 14 points and eight rebounds for Chaparral.