Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 | 10:44 p.m.
George Sanico hit four 3-pointers and scored 19 points for Las Vegas High as the Wildcats avenged their December loss to rival Eldorado with a 67-59 home victory over the Sun Devils on Friday.
“It’s great getting this win, because we needed it a lot to get into playoffs,” Sanico said. “It’s our house. Last time they beat us in theirs and we had to return the favor.”
It was a key win for the Wildcats, not only for the bragging rights associated with a rivalry win, but as a much-needed victory in the Northeast Division race.
The Wildcats improved to 11-10 and dropped Eldorado to 15-5 on the season.
Las Vegas rushed out to an early start as senior guard Travon Langston scored 11 first-quarter points, including a traditional three-point play with three seconds left to give the Wildcats a 17-10 lead after the opening period.
The Wildcats opened up their lead in the second quarter as Sanico hit three of his four from behind the arc in a three-minute stretch.
Sanico’s third 3-pointer of the quarter gave the Wildcats a 31-19 lead with 2:43 left in the half and prompted Eldorado coach Mike Uzan to call timeout.
Sanico and Langston each hit three first-half 3-pointers to help the Wildcats take a comfortable 37-23 lead into halftime.
Las Vegas took its largest lead of the game midway through the third quarter when junior point guard Phil Dunigan converted two free throws to put the Wildcats up 44-25.
Dunigan was third on the team in scoring with 13 points, behind 19 from Sanico and 16 from Langston.
Eldorado refused to give up, despite the large deficit. The Sun Devils countered with an 11-1 scoring run to trim a 19-point deficit down to nine.
Three times Eldorado cut the Las Vegas lead down to seven points, but each time the Wildcats answered with a score.
The Sun Devils missed a vital opportunity to cut the Las Vegas lead to five points with two minutes remaining as Eldorado came up dry on four shot attempts following three offensive rebounds.
Eldorado guard Julian Jacobs helped keep the Sun Devils in the contest the final quarter. The 6-foot sophomore scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Jacobs’ 23 points came in a losing effort, though, as Sanico converted four free throws in the final minute to seal the game for the Wildcats.
“In the second half, I thought we played well,” said Wildcats coach Jason Wilson. “It got a little bit hairy. I think some of us started to panic a little bit, but then they settled down.”
“Then, there at the end of the game, finally we made some free throws,” Wilson said. “We’ve been begging and waiting for these guys to make free throws down the stretch, and they knocked them down and that helped seal the game.”
Las Vegas returns to action Tuesday at Chaparral. The Wildcats lost to the Cowboys at home the first time around 69-57.
The Sun Devils also take the floor again Tuesday as they travel to Canyon Springs to face the Pioneers in a highly anticipated matchup in the Northeast Division.