ELKO – To find the last time the Elko boys basketball team lost a game in Centennial Gymnasium, one would have to dig clear back to Feb. 3, 2012, when the Indians fell to West Wendover, 59-55.
Elko fought from behind for much of the contest in its season opener Thursday against Reed in the annual Red Lion Tournament, defeating the Raiders in overtime by a final score of 57-55.
Reed started off the scoring with a deuce by sophomore Kellen George on a feed from senior Austin Parawan, who gave the Raiders a 5-0 lead with a three from the corner.
Elko’s first bucket of the season came on a coast-to-coast take by junior Alex Klekas.
The game was tied after a triple from Elko senior Jose Zataray, but Reed sophomore Ridge Peterson pushed Reed to an 8-5 advantage with an answer on the other end.
Following a free throw by Peterson, Elko pulled to within two on an offensive putback by senior Jeron Yopps, who then tied the game after an assist from Zataray for a baseline jumper.
Elko took an 11-9 lead at the 2:43 mark in the first period on a pair of free throws by Klekas after being fouled on a drive on a steal.
A follow by Zataray gave the Indians a 13-9 lead before junior Matthew Williams cashed in a triple for the Raiders.
Reed jumped to a 15-13 lead on consecutive threes with Elko’s defense out of position and rotating late, Peterson connecting on his second three of the game.
Fight fire with fire.
The Indians reclaimed the advantage with a three off an offensive rebound by junior Ronin Rowley, who found freshman Sean Klekas for a bomb from the top of the arc.
Elko led 16-15 after one quarter.
Offenses struggled for both teams in the second period.
Following a free throw by Parawan that tied the game at 16-all, neither team mounted a point for three minutes.
Elko found some good looks but missed open shots in some cases, making silly turnovers at other times.
The Indians settled in defensively, forcing Reed to turn the ball over as well – but Elko gave up numerous offensive rebounds to the Raiders.
A pair of shots from the charity stripe by Parawan broke the drought and gave Reed an 18-16 lead with 4:42 remaining in the half.
A three from the left corner by Rowley on an assist from junior Cooper Jones gave Elko a 19-18 lead, but junior Takoda Kester answered with a triple of his own and pushed the Raiders back on top, 21-19 with 4:14 on the clock.
Parawan got to the bucket with a Euro step for a 23-19 lead before Alex Klekas sank a pair of free throws for the Indians.
The game was knotted 23-all after a pair of freebies by Rowley on an offensive rebound and foul.
Williams penetrated for the Raiders and completed an And-1, knocking down the free throw for a three-point play.
Trailing 29-23, Sean Klekas connected on his second three of the game from Rowley, pulling the Indians to within three.
Elko forced a turnover and had a breakaway layup attempt just before the buzzer but Williams made a remarkable run-down swat.
The Indians trailed 29-26 at the break.
Elko’s offense was out of sorts to start the third quarter, struggling to make shots or passing the ball to the interior.
Reed scored the first five points of the frame on two free throws by Williams and a deuce by senior Alex Mason on a feed from Williams, who wreaked havoc on defense for the Raiders.
Elko called a timeout, trailing 34-26.
The Indians’ drought came to end on a big three from their center.
Yopps kept a play alive with hustle on an offensive rebound and buried a triple from the right corner.
Williams scored down the middle after making a steal, but Yopps came up with a steal of his own in the key and drove the length of the floor for a finish for Elko.
Kester connected on a three for the Raiders, but Elko senior Ryan Wickersham answered with a crucial three from the left wing on a drive-and-kick assist from Alex Klekas.
The Indians trailed 39-34 entering the fourth quarter.
Elko settled in and played hard-nosed defense, beginning the frame with a bucket by Zataray, who pulled the Indians to within three at 39-36.
Alex Klekas made a strong take and cut the deficit to one before Parawan hit a free throw for a 40-38 lead for Reed.
Yopps played big for the Indians; making an And-1 on an offensive board – missing the free throw.
With the game tied at 40-all, Yopps made his second straight hoop with the harm, driving the lane for a tough finish while drawing a blocking foul.
The free throw gave Elko a 43-40 lead with three minutes remaining.
The teams traded free throws, one each by Williams and Rowley.
Zataray came up with an offensive board and found senior Angelo Antoniou, who showed his first real signs of life with a critical drive and finish.
George hit a big three for Reed to cut the Elko lead to 46-44 at the two-minute mark, but Alex Klekas sank two free throws with 1:54 remaining for a 48-44 lead.
Williams made a tough finish for the Raiders and closed the gap to 48-46 with a minute remaining, knotting the score at 48-all with 17.9 seconds left in the game on a pair from the stripe.
Elko chucked up a deep three that missed, but the Indians grabbed the rebound.
The last-ditch pitch at the horn was off-mark – extra basketball.
The game went to overtime, as did the first game of the Red Lion Tournament – a 69-68 victory for Meridian (Idaho) over Reno.
In the extra frame, Elko struck first.
Zataray made a steal and was fouled while going to the hoop, making one free throw.
Williams gave Reed the lead with a strong drive down the left side of the lane, but the third triple by Sean Klekas could not have come at a better time for the Indians.
The freshman showed seasoned-vet composure, calmly sizing up his man – jab-stepping, not recognizing a close and sinking a cold-blooded three from the right wing for a 52-50 lead.
Elko was called for their second delay of game, giving Williams two free throws for a tie ballgame at 52-all.
Alex Klekas found one of his best plays in crunch time for a 54-52 lead with a drive down the right side, Sean Klekas coming up with his second-drawn charge of the ballgame with a great defensive stop.
Reed was issued a technical foul, Alex Klekas hitting a free throw for a 55-52 advantage.
The lead was cut to one with a pair of freebies by Reed junior Tyler Wilson with a minute remaining.
Elko finally executed its four-corners offense to perfection.
The Indians spread the floor, passed effectively, ran time off the clock and found Zataray along the baseline for what appeared to be a wide-open layup.
Williams came from the top of the key and recovered for an impressive block, but he was called for goaltending.
Elko made a defensive stop and could have iced the game away with a pass down the floor to open teammates but turned the ball over with five seconds remaining.
Smartly, Alex Klekas fouled Peterson with 2.4 seconds on the clock, sending him to the line rather than giving up a potentially game-tying three.
Trailing 57-54, Peterson made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second while hoping for an offensive rebound, but he was called for a lane violation.
Elko attempted a long pass down the floor in an attempt to swap court position but the ball was intercepted.
Williams’ last-second heave from about 70 feet was actually a good attempt but sailed slightly wide and crashed off the backboard.
Elko showed grit, knocked down some big shots and fought from behind for a 57-55 victory in the season opener.
Three Indians scored in double figures, led by a team-high 14 by Yopps.
Alex Klekas finished with 13 points, followed by 10 from Zataray.
In the first game of his high school career, Sean Klekas closed with nine points – all coming on a team-best three 3s.
Reed was led by 20 points from Williams – 14 coming in the second half – while Parawan also scored in double digits with 12 points, 11 coming in the first half and eight in the second quarter.
“I liked the way the kids stuck with it and kept playing hard. We hit some big shots, but we have a lot to work on,” said Elko coach Chris Klekas. “Reed is much improved. Joe (Genung) has done a good job coaching them. It wasn’t pretty but we got it done.”
REED – 15 – 14 – 10 – 9 – 7 – 55 Total
ELKO – 16 – 10 – 8 – 14 – 9 – 57 Total
In their second game of the season and the Red Lion Tournament, the Indians took on Meridian at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Centennial Gymnasium.
Read the Elko-Meridian game story online at elkodaily.com/sports.
Elko will close the Red Lion Tournament with a 1:30 p.m. Saturday contest against Reno, the day starting with a noon ballgame between Meridian and Reed.