Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 | 10:14 a.m.
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Ray Brewer and Steve Silver breakdown the boys' and girls' basketball playoff picture and debate the consequences of Desert Pines' use of an ineligible player.
The Northwest Division's No. 3 team and the Southwest Division's No. 2 team proved to be nearly equal in the Sunset Regional quarterfinal on Tuesday.
Durango eked passed Mojave 58-56 to advance to the region semifinals on Thursday against host Palo Verde.
"It was great to have home court advantage, and everyone coming to support us," Durango senior forward Kris Bennett said. "This was my last game here, so I'm glad we got the win."
The Trailblazers' two starting forwards — sophomore Shawn Jones and Bennett — dominated the low post and were key to Durango rallying from a 10-point second half deficit. Jones scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, while Bennett made several key plays including a block, an offensive rebound and a steal during a two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter that led to a tie game at 50-50 with 4:19 to play.
"You have a young guy, Sean Jones, who's really just stepping up and giving an outstanding effort. The great thing about Kris Bennett, he's a senior and just making great plays down the stretch," Durango coach DeShawn Henry said. "I can point out probably a dozen games this year where we've won games because he's making great plays down the stretch."
Jones made the game winning basket with four seconds left. Durango senior guard Marcus Falley dribbled out the clock just inside the timeline and began to drive with less than 10 seconds to go when Jones broke towards the basket.
Falley made the pass to his teammate, who converted his seventh field goal of the night to give the Trailblazers a 58-56 lead.
"(Sean's) been great. He's really coming on the last couple games. Around the board he just tries to get everything whether its rebounds or put backs, so we just encourage him to go hard down there and it's paying off for us," Henry said. Mojave got the ball back with 3.4 seconds to play, but when senior guard Anthony Marshall received the in bounds pass and headed up court, he was whistled out of bounds to give the ball back to Durango and seal the win.
Mojave coach Tony Hopkins was frustrated about his team's missed shots and free throws that allowed Durango to come back after trailing 39-29 in the second half.
"We missed some outside shots, clearlya uncontested shots. We didn't knock shots down. That's been a problem with us all year," Hopkins said.
The Rattlers scored just 19 points and were 3-of-7 from the free throw line in the second half.
"When we had the opportunity to extend our lead, we shot ourselves in the foot by going to the free throw line and missing free throws. I credit Durango, but we beat ourselves," Hopkins said.
The UNLV-bound Marshall scored a team high 20 points for Mojave.
Brent Hinckley can be reached at 990-7822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.