Boys called back to court after forfeit
By Arnold M. Knightly, Boulder City Review
Lady Eagles basketball has secured its first trip to the state tournament since 2009 despite coming up short in the 1-A Southern Region championship game Saturday.
Boulder City struggled against Faith Lutheran’s zone defense, shooting 19 percent from the field and 1 of 17 from 3 in a 48-36 loss at Sunrise Mountain.
Senior Mallory Bird scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss, and junior Whitney Barlow scored 10 and grabbed seven.
However, the team secured a state berth with Thursday’s 49-38 win against Moapa Valley 15-11 in the region semifinals, something that may have led to Saturday’s poor performance.
“We didn’t come to play,” Boulder City coach Kirk Frantz told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think we were thinking about the next game. None of these girls has ever been in this situation where they knew they were advancing and had to play another game. They came out flat and stayed that way for all but about two minutes.”
The Lady Eagles started fast against Moapa Valley as sophomore Alyssa Ybarra hit three 3-pointers as part of an 11-0 start. Boulder City then went on an 11-3 run and finished the first quarter up 22-6.
Lady Eagles led by as much as 18 points in the second half on their way to the easy win.
“We are all really excited about making state , but for me personally it means a lot that we have made it so far,” Bird said. “I’ve been on varsity for four years and the fact that we are able to finally make the state tournament my senior year makes the experience that much better.”
Ybarra led with 12 points and eight rebounds, Barlow scored 11 points and sophomore Katlyn Daly added nine points.
Boulder City 18-7 will face Northern Region champion and two-time defending state champion Spring Creek 22-3 on Friday at 3 p.m. at Del Sol.
The winner will face the winner of the Faith Lutheran 19-8 / Elko 19-7 game Saturday at 6 p.m. at The Orleans Arena.
“We’ve all wanted this from the beginning, and we will do anything to win,” Barlow said. It’s just all about gaining the momentum we need.”
Eagles re-enter playoffs after Cheyenne forfeit
The uniforms had been turned in and the players and coaches had mentally moved on when news came late Thursday night that Boulder City boys basketball was back in the 1-A Southern Region semifinals.
The Eagles had lost to Cheyenne two nights earlier in the quarterfinals, apparently ending the season for the team led by eight seniors.
However, Thursday afternoon Cheyenne self-reported that it had used academically ineligible players the last three games of the season and its playoff game against the Eagles.
Coach John Balistere received word that Boulder City was back in while watching the third quarter of the Lady Eagles’ semifinal game.
“I texted all the guys, and we met up at the high school at 8:30 p.m. ,” he said.
Senior Blake Worrall said he thought the coaches were joking when they called Thursday night.
“I thought they were just messing with us,” he said. “It was hard to adjust back. You go into a mindset that you’re going to a different season.”
Although the forfeit put the Eagles back into the semifinals, their Friday opponent was eventual region champion Desert Pines 26-3 .
Boulder City also had to play without starting center senior Michael Kelso, who was ineligible after being ejected from the Cheyenne game.
“They had beaten us twice during the regular season but it’s really hard to beat a team a third time,” said senior DJ Koopman, who was in the hot tub when he got the text.
The Eagles jumped to an early 8-7 lead on a jumper from senior Kaleb Bailey, but the Jaguars went on a 12-3 run and never looked back on their way to a 66-47 win.
Bailey scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and senior Christian Nilsen added 13 points.
“We had nothing to lose,” Balistere said. “All the pressure was on Desert Pines. Nobody expected us to win. I’m proud of them. It was a great season.”
Balistere said it was the first time the Eagles had won at least 15 games in back-to-back seasons since the mid-1990s.
Boulder City is 35-20 in two seasons under Balistere.
Sports writer Pedro F. Fonteboa contributed to this report.