Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 | 1:39 a.m.
To start the second half of Thursday's game against Silverado, Green Valley High School came out ready to make a charge. Green Valley went on a quick scoring run, and looked ready to erase their 11-point halftime deficit.
Then Silverado's James Lata took control.
With the ball at the top of the key, he drove through the Gators defense and finished with an acrobatic layup, ending Green Valley's run and pushing the Skyhawks to a 69-55 victory.
"He can do it all," Silverado head coach Ron Childress said of his senior guard.
Lata did do it all Thursday, penetrating through the defense, hitting shots from long range and forcing turnovers on the defensive end. He had the answer whenever Silverado needed a shot and finished with a game-high 19 points.
"I feel like it just happened," Lata said.
The win for Silverado (24-5) brings them into a first-place tie with Foothill in the Southeast Division. Foothill owns the tiebreaker, which is based on records against common opponents, and gets the top seed in the Nevada Class 4A playoffs.
Silverado will open the playoffs at home against Canyon Springs Tuesday.
With tougher teams on the horizon in the playoffs, Childress has concerns about the postseason.
"We have a pretty good team, but I just worry about fatigue and burnout," Childress said.
Against Green Valley, Silverado relied on its raw athletic superiority to get the win. The Skyhawks had several second and third chance opportunities because of offensive rebounds. The extra possessions hurt the Gators.
"They just killed us on the glass," Green Valley coach Ole Svendsen said. "And their penetration. They kept penetrating and when we came to help it would be an easy dish for a basket. That hurts."
Along with Lata, Mike Wadsworth and Ali Sabra helped created scoring chances for the Skyhawks. Wadsworth capitalized on several close range shots and also beat defenders off the dribble to get to the hoop and finish with 16 points. Sabra used his mid-range jumper to knock down 14 points.
Even after the victory, Childress wasn't entirely pleased with his team's effort.
Childress saw the win against Green Valley as a game the Skyhawks should have won, and wished he had seen a better effort from his squad, especially with the postseason next week.
"We're just better (than Green Valley), that's it," Childress said. "I'm not overly happy about this game."
For Green Valley, Thursday's loss brought an end to a disappointing season. The Gators played teams close in several games, but just couldn't seem to hit the big shot when they needed it.
The loss to Silverado, in some ways, was a microcosm of the season. Green Valley started out strong in the second half and cut the lead to four. The Gators seemed to have Silverado within striking distance, but failed to finish the job and watched as their deficit soon reached double digits.
"We've done this all year long," Svendsen said. "This is not the year we expected. We expected to be better."
In their final games with the Gators, seniors Bill Tuttle had 15 points and Julian Franklin added 10 points to lead Green Valley.
"Then seniors worked really, really, really hard, and that's what hurts more than anything," Svendsen said. "With how hard they worked, they deserved more than their season ended up being."
Garrett Downing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 948-7803