SPARKS – The first meeting between the Elko boys basketball team and the Sparks Railroaders was anything but competitive, the Indians turning the game into a running clock in the second quarter and smashing the Railroaders 71-12.
The first quarter and a half Friday in Sparks painted a completely different canvas, the Railroaders playing inspired ball and knocking down shots.
The Indians erased a second-quarter deficit and gradually pulled away for a 59-37 victory after surviving a flurry of Sparks threes in the early going.
Elko junior Alex Klekas drove down the middle for the game’s first bucket, matched by a deuce along the baseline on the other end by Sparks senior Vashisth Patel.
Klekas answered with a three from the corner, followed by a triple from senior center Jeron Yopps from the top of the arc – opening an 8-2 Elko lead.
Junior Michael Fregillana drove the lane for a layup for the Railroaders, cutting the deficit in half at 8-4.
Freshman Sean Klekas nailed a pull-up jumper, but Patel drilled a corner triple for Sparks.
Yopps finished with a strong bucket in the post, Sean Klekas giving the Indians a 15-7 lead with a three.
Seemingly lose momentum; Patel singlehandedly grabbed the mojo back for the Railroaders.
He went on an 8-0 personal run, including two 3s – tying the game at 15-all – Patel closing the period with 13 points.
The Indians took the lead with a deuce by Yopps but only led 17-15 after the first quarter.
Sparks continued to give Elko problems to start the second period, the Railroaders taking an 18-17 lead with a three from the left side by Fregillana.
Junior Angelo Antoniou gave the Indians the lead with a pair of free throws, but Patel remained deadly for the Railroaders – his fourth three giving Sparks a 21-19 lead.
Sean Klekas tied the game with a deuce with five minutes remaining in the half.
Elko regained the lead with two free throws from junior Ronin Rowley.
Zataray gave the Indians a five-point lead with a free throw and a layup after making a steal.
Elko led 26-21 with two minutes remaining in the period.
The advantage grew to seven with a pull-up jumper from Sean Klekas as the elbow.
Senior Avery Sheppard stopped Elko’s 9-0 run with a hanging finish at the rim, but the Indians closed the half on a 5-0 streak.
Zataray beat his defender off the dribble for a layup, and Sean Klekas tallied his 12th point of the half on a pull-up triple.
At the break, Elko opened a 10-point lead of 33-23.
The Indians picked up the third quarter just how they left off the third, playing tough defense and scoring the basketball.
Alex Klekas completed an And-1 with a free throw after scoring with the foul, using a great hesitation move and up-fake for his second field goal in as many possessions.
Elko took a 40-23 lead with a finish by Yopps on a nice dish from Zataray.
A pair of free throws from Alex Klekas gave him seven points in the third quarter and opened a 19-point lead of 42-23 with 4:35 remaining in the period.
Junior Martin Garcia scored the first points of the frame for Sparks after going more than five minutes of scoreless ball, sinking three free throws after a bad closeout by Elko on a three-point attempt.
Antoniou kissed a high-arching shot off the glass, giving the Indians a 44-26 lead.
The lead grew to 20 with a pair of freebies by Alex Klekas, Sean Klekas making the score 48-26 with a deuce.
Sheppard notched the first field goal of the frame for the Railroaders, but Sean Klekas continued upperclassman play with a deep three from the right wing – giving him 17 points in the game.
Zataray closed the frame with a big move in the lane for a bunny, capping a 20-5 advantage in the third for Elko.
The Indians opened a 25-point advantage of 53-28 entering the fourth quarter.
Zataray used his body for another bucket in the post, opening a 55-28 lead with 5:30 remaining.
Sheppard scored three in a row for the Railroaders, one from the line and two on a strong drive.
Senior post Stockton Salyer got free in the post and scored inside for the Indians.
Patel tallied his first points of the second half with a pair of free throws, but Elko junior Michael Iguban scored from a feed by Antoniou.
Sheppard reached double figures with consecutive buckets for the Railroaders, notching the last points of the game with a nifty scoop and another bucket with great body control.
Elko took Sparks’ opening haymakers and ground down the Railroaders over the course of the final two and a half periods, extending to a 22-point victory of 59-37.
Sean Klekas led the Indians with 17 points – scoring 12 in the first half.
Alex Klekas poured in nine of his 14 points in the third quarter.
In defeat, Patel finished with a game-high 18 points – dropping 16 points and 4 3s before the break.
Zataray and Yopps each finished with nine points for the Indians.
Sheppard scored 11 points for the Railroaders, tallying seven in the fourth quarter.
Antoniou finished with four points, and the Indians gained two points apiece from Rowley, Salyer and Iguban.
ELKO – 17 – 16 – 20 – 6 – 59 Total
SPARKS – 15 – 8 – 5 – 9 – 37 Total
The Indians improved to 13-0 in league play, sending the Railroaders to an inverse 0-13.
Elko will play its final road game of the season at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Truckee.