By Vern Hee
Head Beatty Coach Leo Verzilli could be seen pacing the gym early during the girls game against Lund Wednesday night. His team’s game was immediately following the girls against the Adelson School Lions.
Concern was justified. His team had lost to the Lions before, 54-43, but just recently beat them, 56-30.
It didn’t last long. In the opening moments of the game, the Hornets quickly let the crowd know the team was going to be the winner.
Beatty relentlessly pummeled the Lions with a barrage of points in the first moments, taking a quick 11-5 lead. By the end of the first quarter the score was 13-5. The Hornets would go on to win 58-45.
With this win, the Hornets take Verzilli ball to Chaparral High School tonight at 8 p.m. against the Pahranagat Valley Panthers, the number one seed team.
The game plan was simple. Take the ball down fast. Drive it down the opponent’s throat and dump the ball off inside with a quick pass. It was quite deadly.
The Hornets capitalized on the quick dump pass and also flooded the inside with rebounders for the second chance shots.
The Beatty boys also took advantage of the slight height difference in the team’s players and out-rebounded Adelson inside.
In the first half, Beatty had a 15-point lead going into the locker room. The defense basically kept the Lions from scoring inside.
Defensively, the Hornets did nothing fancy. They pressed with one guard at half court. Drove the ball to the perimeter and tried to rely on superior rebounding to get the ball back.
After the half, the Lions game out strong, getting four turnovers. They answered each one with three, three-pointers in a row.
With just one second left in the third quarter, the Lions added insult to injury. The score was 34-31 and they hit a three-pointer to end it in a tie. Verzilli now had a game on his hands, but did not panic.
“When they tied the game, I said we are starting over. I told them we have got to change the momentum of this game. So we started to just drive the ball and spread their defense.”
In the beginning of the fourth, Adelson tried to match point for point. Beatty made a three-pointer, and then Adelson would make one.
Verzilli’s plan in the fourth slowly began to work.
His guards took the ball down to half court, where they lured the opposing guards out. Verzilli said this left the middle open for his post to take shots.
Once the middle was open, the guards would drive deep into the middle and again dump it off to the post or take the shot.
With 6:23 left in the game, Beatty had a three-point lead. With five minutes left, they had made it a five-point game.
Finally, with just 3:32 left on the clock, Beatty’s lead was nine points and the Hornets just had to hold on for the win. The team knew the game was won.
The victory has given Verzilli a new problem. How do you beat Alamo?
“I don’t know. I really don’t have a plan,” he said.
Alamo is the number one team and has a quick, high-powered offense with good outside shooters. To beat them, Beatty has to stop both the inside and outside shooting.
Verzilli said his team was able to stay with Alamo during the first half of their game with the Panthers. In that game, Beatty lost 54-31.
Beatty has some very athletic and aggressive inside players who may very well upset the Panthers.
If they do, the Hornets will return to the state playoffs. Their last appearance was in 2011 under Brian Hayes. The last Hornets team to go all the way was the 1997 team.
ADELSON SCHOOL: Perry 13, Izkovich 9, Ventura 7, Blackwell 7, Berrebi 7, Guerin 2. Totals 18 5-13 45
BEATTY: Dunlap 17, Gomez 17, Zamora 11, Reed 7, Flores 5, Soto 1. Totals 22 7-19 58
8 4 22 11 -45
15 12 7 24 -58