RENO – The Elko basketball team made a valiant comeback; so did the Cheyenne Desert Shields.
Cheyenne hit a three and made free throws in the final minute, beating the Indians 57-53 in the 3A state semifinal on Friday at Reno High School.
Cheyenne junior Jermaine McCormick drove the left side of the lane and made a nasty finish against great defense, but Elko senior Jeron Yopps worked free along the baseline for a reverse on a feed from senior Ryan Wickersham.
Junior Michael Reed tipped in a miss from the weak side for the Desert Shields, but the Indians took a 5-4 lead on a three by freshman Sean Klekas.
The Desert Shields regained the lead on their next possession from a strong finish by senior Kavon Williams on the right block.
Elko senior Jose Zataray tied the game with a free throw.
Cheyenne went up on a triple from the left wing by McCormick, but Yopps used a pivot and created space for a bank shot of his own.
Williams made a man-sized rebound on the weak side for a put-back.
Yopps made an aggressive drive down the right of the paint and finished against a blocking foul, tying the game at 11 with the free throw.
The Desert Shields closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run.
Williams made two free throws, McCormick dropped an And-1 and senior Jaden Young stuck a three from the left wing.
After the first quarter, Cheyenne led by seven at 18-11.
Klekas buried two free throws to start the second period, Elko reaching the single-bonus.
Freshman De’kquante Hayes made a floater on the other end, but junior Alex Klekas nailed a corner three for the Indians.
Desert Pines added a deuce, but Alex Klekas was heating up and dropping a pull-up jumper.
Sophomore KeShawn Hall notched a put-back for the Desert Shields, but Yopps set up in deep position for an easy finish.
Elko trimmed the lead to two with a pair of freebies by Alex Klekas, but McCormick rattled home a long two off the bounce for Cheyenne.
Alex Klekas worked around a screen and netted another pull-up, but Cheyenne went up five with Young’s second triple of the game.
Yopps received the ball in the key and made a no-look, behind-the-back pass as the defense collapsed to junior Ronin Rowley for a layup on the left block.
A steal by Hall went the other way for a bunny, but Alex Klekas nailed his 10th and 11th points of the half with a floater in traffic.
At the break, Elko cut into the lead and trailed by three at 31-28.
McCormick opened the third quarter with a pair of free throws, Yopps adding one for the Indians.
Williams made the highlight play of the game that didn’t count, throwing down a filthy slam – only Sean Klekas set up and took the charge – fancy play, no points.
Junior Christopher Rose scored on a pocket feed for the Desert Shields, answered by Zataray for the Indians on an assist from Sean Klekas.
Hall stuck with the play underneath the basket and came up with a hustle layup for Cheyenne, the Desert Shields taking a 38-31 lead on a free throw by Young.
Elko’s offense struggled to make anything from the floor, but Sean Klekas ended the drought with a pull-up J from the right side.
A free throw by Rowley cut the lead to four at 38-34, but Elko was called for a charge on their next possession with less than two minutes remaining.
Young made a midair adjustment on a layup for Cheyenne, but Yopps scored with the foul on a feed from Wickersham.
Alex Klekas beat his man off the dribble, worked through traffic and dropped the And-1, the free throw pulling the Indians to within one with 50 seconds on the clock.
Williams put two on the board from the stripe, and Elko missed the front side of a 1-and-1 – followed by a miss on the left block at the buzzer.
Cheyenne led by three at 42-39 going into the fourth period.
Hall tallied a two for the Desert Shields to kick off the frame, but Alex Klekas canned two freebies – the score at 45-41.
With under six minutes on the clock, Wickersham blitzed the deficit to one with a huge triple.
With 5:13 remaining, Zataray tied the game at 45-all with a free throw.
He then jumped a passing lane and went to the tin for a 47-45 lead with 4:56 on the clock.
Hall scored with his left hand and tied the game, but Elko went back up two on a pair of free throws by Alex Klekas.
McCormick stole away a rebound and tied the game once again, but the Indians took a 51-49 lead on a feed from Zataray to Yopps on the right block.
A pair of freebies by Williams with 1:55 remaining tied the contest again.
Yopps gave Elko a 53-51 advantage from another dish by Zataray with 1:38 on the clock.
No fouls, no threes – the Indians gave up the triple.
Hall cashed a money shot from distance in the left corner, adding two more points at the line.
The Indians never scored again, Cheyenne adding a free throw late.
The Desert Shields escaped with a 56-53 victory and advanced to the 3A state championship.
Alex Klekas led all scorers with 18 points, followed by 16 points from Yopps.
Hall led the Desert Shields with 16 points, none bigger than his final five down the stretch.
McCormick closed with 14 points and Williams reached double figures with 10 for Cheyenne.
CHEYENNE – 18 – 13 – 11 – 15 – 57 Total
ELKO – 11 – 17 – 11 – 14 – 53 Total
Cheyenne will take on Desert Pines in the state final, looking for revenge against the Jaguars at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Lawlor Events Center.