Boulder City boys basketball coach John Balistere said his team this season would rely on its defense, and such was the case in the Eagles’ season opener Tuesday night at Western High.
Senior guard Tyler Newby scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds as the visiting Eagles held on to defeat Western 51-46.
“This game should not have been this close, but in the end the defense stepped up and made the key plays to let us get the victory,” Balistere said. “We made some mistakes, and we let them climb back in after a 16-point lead early in the final period, but when it counted the most the players did an outstanding job on defense to pull it out.”
Senior forward Brooks Roe took two charging calls in the final quarter that caused turnovers for the Eagles. He also made three steals.
“Brooks’ defensive play was crucial in the final minutes,” Balistere said. “We got plays from a few others also when we had to have them. Our defense is going to win us a few games this season, and tonight was an example of that.”
The Eagles used their defense to take the lead midway through the opening quarter and kept Western in check, never relinquishing the lead for the rest of the game.
Although its offense struggled early, adjusting to a last-minute site change and opening-night jitters, Boulder City quickly moved ahead with rebounding and denying the Warriors good looks or shots at the basket.
The varsity game was moved into the auxiliary gym less than an hour before tipoff when the Warriors’ main gym saw its floor flooded with rainwater from cracks in the ceiling.
Boulder City led 26-24 at halftime.
The Eagles’ Zack Murphy scored two baskets on drives up the middle, and Newby scored a crucial basket to pull away 33-26 with less than a minute to play in the third quarter.
The Boulder City defense then only allowed Western to score 2 points for the final 4:16 of the third quarter and the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.
“At that point, we should have put them away, but we didn’t finish them like we should have,” Newby said. “We let them come back and make a game of it. We will have to do better next time.”
The Eagles’ offense sparked and they built a 16-point lead at 42-26 with less than six minutes to play in the game.
Western, however, was not done. The Warriors made a run, coming as close as 49-46 with 7.1 seconds left to play in the game.
But in the final minute of play, the deciding factor was Roe’s defense, Newby’s one free throw and Austin Newby’s three free throws.
Austin Newby was fouled and made one of two free throws with 22.5 seconds remaining to make the score 49-44. He went two-for-two at the free throw line with 7.1 seconds left to make it 51-46.
Murphy ended with eight points, and Mack Murphy added seven points. Roe also had three steals on defense.
“I am very proud of the effort by the kids to never give up the lead over the final three quarters and to fight so hard to come away with the win,” Balistere said.