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Boys basketball season gets off to rough start

Three technical fouls, 36 turnovers and 53 percent from the free throw line.

Those are the totals in three categories through two games for Boulder City as the Eagles (0-2) dropped both road contests this week to start the 2015-2016 season.

While those numbers may seem daunting to most, head coach John Balistere had only one message after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game: “We’re going to be alright.”

Usually numbers like the ones above lead to a team being everything but alright, but Balistere and the Eagles know the talent, hard work and dedication are set in place for the team to recover from two early season losses.

On Saturday, Boulder City traveled to Valley High School for both team’s season openers.

The Eagles came out red hot from three, as all five starters hit within the first few minutes of the game. The defense was stout as well, holding the Vikings to just five points in the first five minutes of the game, and took a one point lead into halftime.

“I thought we did a nice job of defending the basket early,” Balistere said. “We got hot early and that allowed our defense to get settled in.”

The second half was a different story, as Boulder City succumbed its lead to Valley. The Eagles shot 50% from the free throw line and committed 17 turnovers.

The Eagles were held scoreless for a nine minute drought that spanned the third and fourth quarters before Peyton Koopman hit a shot to break the streak.

Frustration boiled over in the second half as well, as Austin Wishard and Tanner Montgomery were part of offsetting double-technicals handed out. Guard Quentin Turner would also foul out of the game in the team’s 52-44 loss.

“We just got careless with the ball,” Balistere said. “We didn’t do a good job of attacking and we were passive.”

Turner led the team in scoring with nine points, while Wishard, Koopman and Zac Murphy each had eight. Zach Nichols led Valley with 17 points.

Justus Greene, the team’s highly-praised, 6-foot-5 point-forward transfer from Cimarron-Memorial High School, only took four shots and was held to six points.

Tuesday the Eagles looked to rebound, as they played their second straight road game, this time at Spring Valley High School.

Unfortunately, the one thing Boulder City didn’t do was rebound — both figuratively and literally — as they fell 58-41.

The Eagles totaled five rebounds in the first half, and finished with 18 for the game. Of the 18 rebounds, Koopman had nine. The next highest rebounder had three.

The gameplan from the start was to get Greene going, and to have him attack the basket early, according to Balistere. The team will go how Greene goes, as Balistere said, “If we’re going to be good this year, he needs to be more aggressive and take more shots.”

Murphy led the team in scoring with 13, while Koopman had six points to go with his nine rebounds. A visibly frustrated Greene ended the game with four points.

Boulder City’s defense forced Spring Valley into 23 turnovers, however it was rebounding and the team’s chaotic offense that led the Eagles to defeat.

Balistere said he thinks the team settled for the first available shot too often instead of running the team’s normal offensive sets.

The team shot roughly 19 percent in the first half and went 5-for-18 from the three point line in the game.

Free throw woes continued, as the team went 13-for-24 form the line — a frustrating 54 percent.

Questionable officiating was also a factor, according to Balistere, who said it was hard for both teams to get into an offensive rhythm early.

“21 years I’ve never commented on the officiating,” Balistere said. “The officiating was rough. There were a lot of calls that were questionable either way. It was a really ugly game.”

The team’s physicality went up a notch in the fourth quarter due to the officiating — or lack thereof — during the game.

Balistere called a timeout in the fourth quarter and told his team that if calls weren’t being made, it was time to be much more aggressive.

The team responded, and cut the game-long double-digit lead to nine at one point, but in the end, Spring Valley pulled away for the 17-point win.

“I love the way we protect the basket,” Balistere said. “We’ve got to get some of our other guys to take charges and protect the basket, and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ll be OK.”

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