Entering the season, Curtis Stewart sensed Eldorado’s boys basketball team had matured to the point where it could compete for a playoff spot.
After six games — all victories — there’s no disputing the senior forward’s intuition.
Stewart compiled 25 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals to carry the Sundevils to a 64-58 home victory over Northeast League rival Las Vegas on Thursday night.
“We’ve grown up a lot,” said Stewart, one of five returning starters from a team that was 8-14 last season. “We talk to each other. They help pick me up, and I help pick them up. We’re all a team; that’s how we’re going to win this year.”
Eldorado (6-0, 2-0 Northeast) jumped to a 27-14 lead before withstanding a furious comeback by Las Vegas (5-1, 1-1).
Hasaan Henderson’s put-back of a missed free throw lifted the Wildcats to within 60-58 in the final two minutes. But DaQuon Thrower sank 3 of 6 free throws in the final 21.3 seconds to help the Sundevils hold on.
The season is less than a month old, but Eldorado coach Michael Uzan called it a “huge” win over a league rival.
“This is what we play for,” he said. “That’s a very good Vegas team. Things weren’t falling our way and they started to make a comeback, but we were strong enough to pull out a win.”
Uzan echoed Stewart’s belief that results are showing from the work Eldorado put in since last season.
“These guys have put a lot of time in,” Uzan said. “They’ve been together a couple years now. They believe in us and we believe in them, and that’s why we’re off to a good start right now.”
Thrower had 11 points and eight rebounds for Eldorado, which won despite making only 14 of 33 free throws. It helped that Las Vegas wasn’t much better at the foul line, hitting 15 of 28.
Henderson led the Wildcats with 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.
Travon Langston added 14 points and George Sanico scored 12 for Las Vegas.