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LV PREP CHAMPIONSHIP: Struggles shooting free throws doom Valley in loss to Garfield

One possession doesn’t decide a basketball game.

But Valley’s boys basketball team will certainly look back at one particular missed opportunity from Monday’s game against Garfield (Wash.).

A technical foul gave the Vikings a chance for a six- or seven-point possession, but they came up empty, and Garfield held on for a 78-70 win in the championship game of the Las Vegas Prep Championship at Las Vegas High.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game,” Valley coach Brian Farnsworth said.

The biggest problem for Valley down the stretch was missed free throws. The Vikings were 4-for-15 from the line in the second half, and 1-for-7 in the final 2:43.

The misses started after Garfield’s Brayon Blake was whistled for a foul and then slapped with a technical with 2:43 to play. Cameron Burton missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity, and Spencer Mathis missed both technical foul shots.

Mathis then missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, allowing the Bulldogs to cling to their 70-67 lead.

Burton missed two more foul shots with 1:37 to go and the score still 70-67. Shea Garland finally made one with 1:37 left, but he needed a third shot after a lane violation wiped out his second miss.

“It’s a learning experience,” Farnsworth said. “We missed seven free throws in a row in a stretch. But you can’t simulate the pressure of a game free throw in practice.”

Valley led 39-33 at the half, but Blake and tournament Most Valuable Player Tramaine Isabell led the comeback. Blake finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Isabell scored 13 of his 24 points in the second half.

Valley had limited the Bulldogs to two-second chance points in the first half, but Blake led the charge on the offensive glass in the second half, and Garfield had 10 second-chance points.

“I thought our defense the second half was solid, but we lost the bottom-side rotation, and they got a lot of second-chance put-backs,” Farnsworth said. “That (Blake) had six or seven offensive rebound put-backs, and that might have been the difference right there.”

Mathis finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but he and Burton struggled to make shots down the stretch. Burton was 2-for-10 from the field in the second half, and Mathis was 4-for-11, including 1-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Burton finished wit 17 points and six assists, and Garland had 12 points for Valley, which made 4 of 22 3-pointers.

“When we get a chance to play in a big game like this again, hopefully we’re better,” Farnsworth said.

BRONZE BRACKET

Cimarron-Memorial’s boys basketball team reached the title game of the Bronze Division despite playing the entire tournament without three of its key players.

But after taking a 37-34 lead into halftime against Salesian (Calif.) on Monday, the Spartans faded in the second half and lost 79-73.

“We played without our starting backcourt (Justin Lewis and Cameron McKissic), and we’re missing our 6-foot-7 guy (Terrell Walker),” Cimarron coach Chris Walker said. “We should be OK. This gave our bench a chance to play to see what they’re made of.”

Tony Harrison had 32 points and nine rebounds for the Spartans, who shot 27 of 61 (44 percent) from the field.

“Tony Harrison is a great player for us,” Walker said. “He’s our leading scorer and rebounder. He flies around, gets a lot of offensive rebounds and attacks the basket. Last year he averaged two points (and) this year he’s averaging 18 (points), which is crazy to me.”

Cimarron was assessed a technical foul for dunking during warmups, allowing Salesian to take a quick lead after sinking two free throws.

“That kind of set us off on the wrong tone,” Walker said.

The Mustangs used that momentum to go ahead 6-0, all thanks to Mario Lopez. Lopez scored 15 of Salesian’s first 17 points and finished with 21 points.

After trailing at the break, Salesian fought back to take a 54-52 lead five minutes into the second half and never looked back. Daniel Wright had 23 points, and Kevin Scott scored 17 for the Mustangs.

The closest Cimarron got was 58-56 with a little more than seven minutes left when a Salesian intentional foul prompted a four-point swing for the Spartans.

Austin Garrison added nine points for Cimarron, which also got eight points and six rebounds from Kyle Skurow.

In six tournament games, Cimarron went 3-3, with its losses coming by a combined nine points. And though the Spartans lost in the final, Walker remained upbeat.

“In my eyes, I look at it as a learning experience for our guys,” Walker said. “But a lot of these guys are seniors, so they got to pick it up. We can’t keep losing the close games, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounces.

“As a team, we jelled pretty good. If we play to our ability, we can play with anybody. We can compete. We’ve just got to be prepared for the conference games.”

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