WELLS – The Wells boys basketball team closed the season with two wins over the weekend, beating Carlin 63-51 on senior night Friday and closing the regular season Saturday with a come-from-behind, 62-57 win over Owyhee.
The Leopards honored seniors Raul Naranjo, Patrick Wines, Mathew Morgan and Cole Gunter on Friday.
Wells opened the game with a 13-point first quarter, limiting the Railroaders to single digits with eight. The Leopards blew the game open in the second period, outscoring Carlin 21-12.
The Leopards commanded a 34-20 lead at halftime.
The Railroaders played a much better second half, but the Leopards took the third frame by a 16-12 margin.
Wells led 50-32 entering the fourth period.
Carlin’s offense managed to mount its highest output of any quarter in the final frame – netting 19 points compared to Wells’ 13 – but the Leopards’ 18-point advantage after the third quarter was too much to overcome, and Wells cruised to a 63-51 victory.
Wines scored a game-high 16 points for the Leopards, dropping 14 in the first half. Junior Joey Gardner scored nine points, seven coming in the second half. Naranjo and junior Britton Johnny each finished with eight points.
Wells used a balanced-scoring attack, as Morgan and junior Alex Eriksen scored seven points apiece. Colman Johnny scored six points.
Senior Tony Williams led Carlin with 15 points, followed by nine points from sophomore Makai Haub. Senior Andrew Simler notched eight points, as did junior Javas Leach.
Carlin – 8 – 12 – 16 – 19 – 51 Total
Wells – 13 – 21 – 16 – 13 – 63 Total
The Leopards wrapped up the regular season with a wild, comeback victory Saturday over Owyhee, beating the Braves 62-57.
The key to the game early on was Owyhee senior Eric Cota, who went bananas from the field and the free-throw line.
Cota scored 24 points in the first half, knocking down six field goals overall, including two 3s. He also had the stroke at the charity stripe, burying 10 of his 12 attempts. He scored 12 of Owyhee’s 24 points in the first quarter, and 12 more of the Braves’ 17 in the second period.
The Braves outscored the Leopards 24-14 in the first period and 17-15 in the second, taking a 41-29 lead into the locker room.
Good news for Wells in the second half meant bad news for Owyhee.
After dominating the first half, the Leopards limited Cota to just five points after intermission – all five coming in the third quarter and being held scoreless in the fourth.
Owyhee’s only other field goal in the third came on a three by junior Wyatt Kelly.
Wells did not have a huge quarter offensively in the third – scoring 12 points – but the defense made a stand and kept the game within reach.
The Leopards’ defense repeated its performance from the third quarter in the fourth – holding the Braves to another eight points – and the Wells offense opened up the flood gates.
Wells scored 21 points in the final frame, storming back to earn a 62-57 victory.
After being held scoreless in the third period Gardner came up clutch in the fourth, scoring nine of his team-high 25 points in the final frame. He was one of the few Leopards who had his offense rolling in the first half, netting 16 of Wells’ 29 first-half points.
He knocked down three triples in the game.
Britton Johnny finished in double figures with 11 points. Naranjo and Devin Leyva scored eight points each, and Wines finished with seven points.
The Braves were led by Cota’s game-high 29 points, 24 coming in the first half. Kelly finished with nine points, senior Colton Kelly-Brady scored six points, and junior Ricky Baker and senior Kyon Walker each finished with five.
Owyhee – 24 – 17 – 8 – 8 – 57 Total
Wells – 14 – 15 – 12 – 21 – 62 Total
“We could have made the game much easier on ourselves if we could have knocked down our free throws. It was a physical game, and we shot 49 free throws – but we only made 22 of them. That number would have been worse, but Joey Gardner made 10 of 12 from the line,” said Wells coach Joel Soriano. “I went to a box-and-one defense on Cota and put Britton Johnny on him. That was the difference in the second half.”
The Leopards finished the season with a 9-1 record in league play of the Division IV Northern-East, possessing the No. 2 seed of the regional tournament after losing the tiebreaker to No. 1 Eureka.
Owyhee closed the season with a 5-5 league record, clinching the No. 3 seed.
Wells will play the first quarterfinal game of the regional tournament, facing the No. 3 seed from the West, Pyramid Lake, at 3 p.m. Thursday at Hug High School in Reno.
The Braves will play the No. 2 seed from the West, Mineral County (Hawthorne), at 6:20 p.m. Thursday at Hug High School.
“I have not seen Pyramid Lake play this year, but I understand they have a sophomore who is very good. We will have to take him away,” Soriano said. “Whittell is undefeated at 14-0 on our side of the bracket, but we have to focus on winning the Pyramid Lake game first. We have put a system into place, now it is up to the kids to go out and do their thing.”