One season ago, with a roster stocked with seniors, the Beatty boys basketball team climbed to third place in the Class 1A Southern League and reached the region playoffs.
This year’s Hornets figured to take a bit of a step back and did, finishing 7-9 overall and 3-6 in the league to finish in a tie for sixth, missing out on the last postseason spot.
“I think that was due to our youth and lack of experience at the varsity level,” Beatty coach Steven Sullivan said. “We only had a few returning players because we had a huge senior class last year. Going in we knew there would be ups and downs, and we did feel like we let some of the close games get away from us.”
Five of the Hornets’ nine losses were by five points or fewer, including one in overtime and one to rival Tonopah.
The Hornets’ roster included just three seniors, and none were in the starting lineup, which featured juniors Alan Sandoval, Jacob Henry and Max Taylor and sophomores Jorge Leon and Jose Granados.
Beatty was not a high-scoring team, topping out at 58 points twice in victories over Round Mountain. That scoring load was shared by several players, with the balanced offense not featuring a dominant, go-to scorer.
“At the beginning of the season our offense was more productive, but as the season progressed and we got into league things changed,” Sullivan said. “We were getting scoring from different players.”
It was not one of the Hornets’ wins but one of the losses that Sullivan points to as the team’s best effort of the season.
The middle game of a three-game losing streak came against Word of Life, and Sullivan was pleased with his team’s performance in a 62-53 defeat.
“Word of Life is always one of the top three teams in the league, and we ended up fighting back against them,” Sullivan said.
“I just remember our passing was very sharp, we shared the ball very well, we adjusted out defense midgame, and our boys were able to shut them down, get some stops.
“That game felt like a turning point, but it didn’t really work out that way.”
The Hornets struggled mightily against the top two teams in the league, Spring Mountain and Pahranagat Valley of Alamo, but against third-place Word of Life they were in the game until near the end.
“We have more of a competitive mentality against that team, but against Alamo and Spring Mountain it’s very tough to compete against them physically because you can’t get around them mentally,” Sullivan said.
Spring Mountain (21-4, 9-0 1A Southern) handed Beatty a 56-26 defeat, while Pahranagat Valley (22-3, 8-1) was a 51-26 victor.
Sullivan said the team had trouble finding consistency.
“I think a couple of individuals did make strides, but on the whole as a team we were very up and down, and that takes me back to the lack of experience at the varsity level,” said the fourth-year coach,.
He is optimistic for next year with all of his starters returning and all of this year’s freshmen seeing playing time.
“There is definitely one other player who could crack that lineup, maybe two,” Sullivan said.
He pointed to a shift that helped junior Geo Maldanado increase his production, including a 15-point effort against Sandy Valley.
“We ran him at the four, and about halfway through the season we decided to try him at the five spot,” Sullivan said.
“He’s not that tall, but he has great basketball sense. And he got most of his points from there. He’s a great utility player, we can run him at the four on the perimeter or run him at the five inside.”
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