Eureka’s boys withstood a 32-point performance by McDermitt’s Jagger Hinkey and held on for a 64-55 win over the Bulldogs on senior night in Eureka Feb. 15.
Hinkey and teammate Ben Draunidalo with 15 points, engaged in a scoring dual with the Vandals in the first half with Eureka holding a 35-31 lead at the break.
Eureka coach Fred Minoletti said, “Some of the stuff he was putting up and making was pretty crazy, a mixture of 3s and 2s. And we played pretty well, too. Chace Green had 28 points for us and Tristan Bircham had 19 points. If it hadn’t been for Hinkeey, we would have beaten them by a much wider margin. He kept them in it.”
Minoletti said, “We’ve been playing better as of late. These last seven games we have gone 6-1, scoring more points per game, doing better on defense, and can feel confident going in.”
Eureka (11-10, 6-4) will take the No. 3 spot behind Jackpot and Wells into the East-West regional tournament that began on Thursday in Reno where they were expected to first face Whittell (17-2).
McDermitt’s loss to Eureka knocked the Bulldogs (3-21, 2-7,) out of the regional playoffs
From the West League, the leaders appear to be Sierra Lutheran (18-5), followed by Whittell, Sage Ridge (8-9) and Pyramid Lake (6-11).
On the girls side, the Lady Vandals also qualified for the regional tournament by way of finishing No. 2 in the league and closed out their final league game with a loss to league leader McDermitt.
Coach Travis Gallagher said the team “played the Bulldogs close the first half, but not so good in the second half.”
McDermitt’s Precious Masters, the NIAA girls scoring leader, helped spark the Bulldogs to a 20-point third quarter and on to a 58-39 win.
Gallagher said team leader Gracie Garrett “did not have a good game, only shooting 14 percent for the night [and 8 points].” Meanwhile, Ilyhia Greely was high point for Eureka with 16 points.
Gallagher was happy how the girls played the first half, even though trailing. But Masters came to life in the third quarter scoring 10 of her 17 points that period. “We had quite a few turnovers in the third quarter and they scored each time, Masters in particular.”
Heading into the regional tournament this week, Eureka and Owyhee were tied at 5-3 in league play.
Gallagher explained that the NIAA has changed the tie-breaker system they have used for a number of years, whereas in a tie such as this, the team that won the second game would take the higher seed. That would be Owyhee as they had a 58-50 win over the Vandals Feb. 2 in Eureka.
“But now,” he said, “the NIAA has gone to a different system when head-to-head competition remains tied. It is now a points allowed during head-to-head meetings to determine the higher seed.”
Gallagher said, “We allowed Owyhee 105 points and they allowed us 110, so we would be the No. 2 seed and that would likely match us up with Pyramid Lake (8-12), No. 3 in the West.”
The boys and girls regional finals are Feb. 23 at Wooster High School with the two finalists advancing to the state tournament semifinals March 1 at SLAM Academy in Henderson, followed by the the 1A state championship March 2 at The Orleans in Las Vegas.