Beatty High School boys basketball coach Steve Sullivan was in an unusual position Tuesday night when Tonopah came to town.
Yes, the Muckers and Hornets are longtime rivals, but since they no longer compete in the same league there were other considerations for Sullivan as game time approached, namely making the regional tournament.
“We’ve got a must-win situation on Friday, so we came in saying we would mix up our personnel and get our bench more minutes than our starters,” Sullivan said. “It was tough. We talked about it on more than one occasion because it is Tonopah, but in the long run it’s more important for the rest of our team to get more minutes, mix up some personnel and get ready, hopefully, for next week’s competition.”
So when the Muckers completed a sweep of the home-and-home series by handing the Hornets a convincing 56-32 defeat, Sullivan was unfazed, already thinking about tonight’s almost-must-win game against Sandy Valley (3-8, 2-5 1A South) at 7 p.m. in Beatty.
The Muckers basically dominated each quarter, leading 14-7 after one, 28-14 at the half and 44-23 after three. Fabian Perez led the Hornets with 10 points, while Jorge Leon added 8.
But the Hornets already were thinking about Sandy Valley, which, on paper, is a team Beatty (7-5, 5-2) should beat. But the Sidewinders have been tougher than their record indicates.
“They don’t have a football team, so what they do all fall is basketball,” Sullivan said. “They’ve got a good little sophomore who can shoot, and they’ve got a big forward who can also shoot outside. If you look at their scores, they’ve been close even though they lost.”
Among Sandy Valley’s league losses are a 42-38 loss to Indian Springs, a 66-61 defeat at Liberty Baptist, a 48-43 defeat against Word of Life and a 47-46 loss to a Beaver Dam team that handed Beatty a 59-40 defeat Jan. 25.
Beatty, Word of Life and Beaver Dam are tied for third at 5-2 in the league, but Beaver Dam and Word of Life play tonight in Littlefield, Arizona. The loser will be 5-3, so a Beatty win over Sandy Valley would clinch a playoff spot at 6-2.
But here’s where it gets interesting. Should the Sidewinders beat the Hornets, then the other game will decide the Hornets’ playoff fate. If Word of Life loses, each would be 5-3, and Beatty would make the playoffs on the head-to-head tiebreaker. But Beaver Dam would go with a loss because of their win over the Hornets.
If Beatty and Word of Life each win, Beatty would get the third seed because of their win over the Eagles. If Beatty and Beaver Dam win, Beaver Dam would be seeded third and Beatty fourth.
Avoiding the fourth seed is big, as the fourth-seeded team will face Mineral County, the top seed from 1A Central, in the playoffs. The Serpents are 26-1, and, for the sake of comparison, in their two games against Tonopah the scores have been 68-34 and 72-23.
The South’s third seed would face Tonopah, which has wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the Central.
“If we go, we go to Reno, which makes no sense,” Sullivan said. “For the southern and central teams to go have playoffs in Reno?”
The Central-South 1A Regional Championships will begin Thursday, with semifinals Friday and the title game Saturday.
Beatty girls fall to Tonopah
A 55-28 defeat might not seem like a good thing, but considering Beatty managed just 19 points the first time the teams met, it is a sign of improvement for Aimee Senior’s young squad.
The Muckers raced to a 23-2 lead after the first quarter, scoring the last 19 points of the period. But the Hornets outscored the Muckers 13-6 in the second as Jasmine Wright netted 7 points during the quarter. Two more 13-6 quarters would have forced overtime, but the Muckers asserted themselves in the second half.
Wright led the Hornets with 9 points, while Carmen Stevenson scored 7 and Marlene Damian added 6.