Even after the final buzzer, Las Vegas High boys basketball coach Jason Wilson had to hold his breath Thursday night as he waited to confirm that his team had secured a victory.
A Las Vegas player was whistled for a technical foul after the buzzer. The Wildcats led 81-77, and with no time on the clock there was no way for Green Valley to inbound the ball had it taken the foul shots. So, after a couple of conferences, the final whistle was blown, and the Wildcats escaped with a four-point win.
“We made enough plays when it counted to get it done,” Wilson said. “Probably last year that wouldn’t have happened. We would have given that away.”
The visiting Wildcats (3-0) led by 15 points in the first half and 71-61 with 3:23 to play.
But Durrell McDonald scored 16 of his game-high 34 points in the final quarter to keep Green Valley (0-3) in the game.
His 3-pointer with 49 seconds to go cut the lead to 77-73, and after a steal, McDonald hit a layup to make it 77-75.
The Gators got as close as 78-77 after a post bucket by Devan Kohn with 19 seconds to play.
Las Vegas’ Phil Dunigan hit one of two free throws with 15 seconds left to make it 79-77, but then fouled McDonald near halfcourt with 11.7 seconds to go.
McDonald missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Wildcats held on. It was the only shot, field goal or free throw, that McDonald missed in the quarter.
“I told the kids before the game that these guys were going to be pretty hungry,” Wilson said. “We knew coming over here, their first home game, that they were going to get after it.”
Green Valley’s three losses have come by a total of 17 points, and one went into overtime.
After struggling at the line early, the Wildcats knocked down 18 of 23 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been brutal this season on free throws,” Wilson said. “At some point, the kids have just got to make plays. They’re good free-throw shooters, they’ve just got to do it in a game.”
Hasaan Henderson led Las Vegas with 24 points and eight rebounds. Dunigan added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Juwan Major had 15 points and seven boards for the Wildcats. Aziz Leeks had 11 rebounds to help Las Vegas to a 51-28 edge.
Kohn had 19 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots for Green Valley.