JACKPOT – Following an undefeated season against Division 1A opponents, the Jackpot basketball team hopes it has two more wins in its bag.
The Jaguars earned the Division 1A East title with a 10-0 record and added three more victories during the Division 1A West-East regional tournament – claiming the regional championship.
Jackpot steamrolled Pyramid Lake on Feb. 21 by a final score of 58-35 in the regional quarterfinal, avenged a 2018 semifinal loss Friday with a 53-34 win over Whittell and took down Wells for the third time in a 47-31 victory Saturday in the regional title game.
With the regional crown on its collective head, Jackpot earned a No. 1 seed for the Division 1A Nevada State Basketball Championships – facing Central-South No. 2 Spring Mountain in the 1A state semifinal at 4:45 p.m. Friday, at Sports Leadership and Management Academy, in Las Vegas.
The Eagles advanced to the Central-South regional final before losing a back-and-forth contest by a final score of 74-69 versus Mineral County.
According to MaxPreps, Jackpot (22-5 overall) is the No. 2 team in the 1A state rankings – Spring Mountain (18-10 overall, 7-1 in 1A South) the No. 5 team in the 1A state spectrum – the Mineral County Serpents taking the top spot.
Spring Mountain is young, possessing just one senior – loaded with youth – the roster including seven juniors and four sophomores.
However, the Eagles have the size advantage – two players standing 6-feet-2-inches and five players at 6-foot or taller.
Jackpot’s tallest players are sophomore Miguel Avila and junior Steve Rodriguez – each at 6-foot-even.
While the Jags have three seniors – compared to just one for Spring Mountain – Jackpot is also a young team, none of the players experiencing the pressure a state tournament can bring.
Half of Jackpot’s players have two years of experience or less – containing three sophomores and three freshman – also possessing three juniors.
First-year head coach Lupe Gonzalez has said his team’s strength comes at the defensive end of the floor, and the Jaguars will need to do an extraordinary job in that area – especially in transition – against the fast-paced, attacking style of the athletic Eagles.
The Jaguars will look to the leadership of senior Jerry Martinez, who paces Jackpot in scoring at 14.5 points per game through 19 games recorded to MaxPreps, adding 3.6 steals.
Junior Hugo Sanchez scores near double figures, averaging 9.2 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Using his length, Steve Rodriguez leads the attack on the backboards – pulling down a team-high 7.6 rebounds – dropping 6.7 points per contest.
Senior Abraham Martinez averages 6.6 points and 2.5 boards, Avila tacking on 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Sophomore Carlos Camacho has served as the Jags’ defensive and passing wizard, making 4.6 steals and dishing 2.4 assists per game, topping the roster in both categories – scoring 4.9 points per outing.
Jackpot would ultimately like to see the game play out as a low-scoring affair, Spring Mountain wanting to turn the contest into an up-and-down tack meet with a high-point total on the board.
The Jaguars will play for a position in the state championship at 4:45 p.m. Friday during the semifinal round – opening the Division 1A Boys Nevada State Basketball Championships – looking to slow down Spring Mountain, at SLAM Academy, in Las Vegas.
West-East No. 2 Wells will play the second semifinal contest of the 1A boys state tournament, tipping off versus No. 1 Mineral County at 8:15 p.m. Friday, at SLAM Academy.