LAS VEGAS – Desert Pines did not convert a field goal in overtime. Unfortunately for Elko, the Jaguars did knock down 5 of 6 free throws in the extra session and that was enough to lift them to a 51-48 win over Elko in a Division I-A state semifinal Friday in Las Vegas.
Trailing 49-47, Elko’s Nathan Klekas got off a driving finger-roll attempt but it rimmed out before teammate Tim Meo pulled down an offensive rebound. He was fouled on the putback try. He made his first free throw but missed the second and Desert Pines’ Trevon Abdullah grabbed the rebound. He calmly sank both free throws with 8.2 seconds left, extending the Jaguars’ lead to the final 51-48 margin.
Klekas got an open off-balance look at a 22-foot 3-pointer, but it bounced off the rim as time expired, sealing the Indians’ losing fate.
“We got good looks all game,” Klekas said. “They just didn’t go down. That’s the frustrating part.”
The two teams went to overtime knotted at 46-46. Klekas gave Elko a 47-46 edge when he buried 1 of 2 free throws with 1:15 left in OT. Unfortunately for Elko, that was its last lead of the game. Desert Pines got a pair of free throws from Coby Myles on its ensuing trip down the floor, taking a lead it did not relinquish.
Elko looked poised to take control of the game late in the third period. The Indians were down 30-27 midway through the third but proceeded to go on a 10-0 run capped by back-to-back Cody Nielson layups. The outburst saw Elko jump ahead 37-30 with less a minute remaining in the third quarter.
The Jaguars responded with a 10-2 run of their own, erasing the Elko lead and taking a 40-39 advantage with 4:53 to go in regulation.
The two teams traded buckets in crunchtime. Klekas gave Elko a 46-44 edge on a layup with 2:34 remaining in the state tourney tilt, but the Indians did not score again in the fourth period and had to settle for overtime.
“I thought we struggled all night offensively,” veteran Elko coach Chris Klekas said. “We weren’t in a flow. We played unsure … We didn’t execute at the end.”
Ultimately, Elko was done in by a lackluster effort at the foul line. The Indians finished just 13-of-24 from the charity stripe.
“We needed to make more plays at the end,” coach Klekas said. “But when you turn the ball over and don’t make your free throws, you don’t often win.”
Elko kept itself in contention by competing on the glass with the bigger, more athletic Jaguars. Elko won the rebounding battle 37-30, on the strength of 20 offensive boards.
Klekas posted 16 points to lead Elko in the scoring column. Meo added 15.
Myles had 17 points to pace Desert Pines on the offensive end.