It’s common knowledge that Desert Pines’ offense runs through point guard and scoring leader Milos Uzan.
In Saturday night’s Mountain Region boys championship game at Legacy, however, the title also ran through the Jaguars’ defense.
And that meant the imposing presence of 6-foot-7-inch, 255-pound junior Darnell Washington.
Uzan scored 18 points, and Washington had eight rebounds and four blocked shots to lead Desert Pines to a 49-46 victory over Arbor View.
“He’s just big for us, man,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said of Washington, who scored nine points. “He’s big in every way. Just inside, the guys feed off of him. He’s the oldest player out there on the floor for us.”
Cimarron Conriquez added 12 points for the Jaguars (22-6), who have won 16 consecutive games and secured a berth at next week’s state tournament. Desert Pines plays Desert Region champion Bishop Gorman (25-4) in the Southern Nevada championship game at 7 p.m. Monday at Valley.
Arbor View opened the game on a 7-0 run, as Desert Pines missed its first five shots of the game. But Washington ignited an 11-4 run for the Jaguars, who tied the game at 11-all by the end of the first quarter.
“We made it hard on ourselves, we were 1-for-12 in the first half with 3-pointers, so that was kind of tough for us right there,” Mike Uzan said. “We weren’t shooting the ball well. We shot it the other night well, and tonight we were off.”
Neither team did itself any favors in the first half, as the Jaguars were 7-for-27 from the floor, and Arbor View was 5-for-20, including a dismal 1-for-10 in the second quarter.
The Aggies took a 32-29 lead with 1:10 left in the third quarter, but Dayshawn Wiley gave the Jaguars a 33-32 lead after Williams blocked Larry Holmes at the other end.
“We fall back to play defense, we love to defend, that’s a big plus for high school kids,” Mike Uzan said. “The second half they caught fire and got some scrambles on some plays so we kind of lost the game plan. For the most part it was trying to run those guys off that 3-point line.”
After Favor Chukwukelu hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 33-33 with 6:24 left in the contest, Milos Uzan answered with a 3-pointer to start an 11-4 run for the Jaguars.
Conriquez put back his own rebound, and Washington hit a short jumper to make it 40-33.
Arbor View’s Donovan Yap completed a four-point play to make it 40-37, but Washington and Milos Uzan answered right back to extend the lead back to seven.
“It’s like automatic for us,” Washington said of the Jaguars’ poise in pressure situations.
Arbor View clawed its way back into the game with three consecutive 3-pointers inside the final two minutes. The Aggies had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but Yap’s 3-pointer at the top of the arc clanked off the rim.
Yap had 22 points, and Chukwukelu scored 10 for the Aggies.