Cold-shooting Vaqueros fall in state semifinals

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Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

The Fernley High School boys basketball team got the 3A State Tournament on the strength of hot shooting.

Their stay there was a short one because of cold shooting.

The Vaqueros made just 12 of 52 shot attempts, 23.1 percent, in a 49-35 loss to Desert Pines in a state semifinal game Friday afternoon at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.

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“We did everything we wanted defensively,” coach Derek Miller said. “We executed our game plan perfectly. We just could not buy a bucket.”

Trevon Abdullah-Booker scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to help Desert Pines break open what had been a tight game through the first 27 minutes.

All of Abdullah-Booker’s 11 fourth-quarter points came in a 13-2 run by the Jaguars that turned a 34-27 lead to 47-29.

The poor shooting afflicted both teams early in the game, as the teams combined to make 4 of their first 35 shots.

A 3-pointer by Zach Burns and a basket inside by Justin Turner accounted for Fernley’s first-quarter offense, but it was enough for a 5-5 tie, because Desert Pines had similar problems finding the inside of the rim.

Two baskets to start the second quarter by Turner gave Fernley it’s only lead at 9-7, but Abdullah-Booker answered with a 3-pointer.

Turner made a free throw to tie the game at 10, and Desert Pines went to halftime with a 15-12 lead when Jalen Graves hit a shot at the buzzer.

Fernley still couldn’t find the range in the third quarter, scoring only one field goal, by Ren Arroyo, to go with five free throws.

“We had open looks, we executed our offense, we just could not finish,” Miller said. “I kept thinking shots were going to fall.”

Burns led the Vaqueros with 12 points, 9 of them in the fourth quarter, as the game opened offensively for both teams. Turner had 8 points and Drake Howe had 6 for the Vaqueros.

“We executed our game plan… we just couldn’t knock down shots,” Burns said. “We did everything we needed to do to put us into position to win the game. We needed to probably shoot 27 percent and that would have won us the game.”

Desert Pines went on to beat Cheyenne 69-46 in the state championship game Saturday afternoon.

“We missed a golden opportunity,” Miller said. “But I can’t fault the kids, they did everything we asked of them.”

Photos by Ralph Dunn, for the Fernley Reporter

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