Sheldon Panthers, NEVC Lady Knights win Golden Valley

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nevada Daily Mail

BRONAUGH ---- The Sheldon Panthers defeated the Northeast Vernon County Knights 41-34 Saturday night, in the Golden Valley Vernon County Conference junior high boys championship game.

On the girls side, led by point guard Makinsey Conner's 17 points, the NEVC Lady Knights thumped the Montrose Bluejays 32-13 in the championship game matchup.

Panthers vs Knights

Sheldon's (11-0) Brett O'Conner was a force in the paint all night, which included scoring the Panthers first four points. A short jumper by Jason Leavell put the Sheldon up 6-4 midway through the first quarter.

Power forward Blane Jones put the Knights up 7-6 with a slashing drive from the left wing with 1:09 remaining in the first quarter. Jones' drive was followed by a Derek Keith baseline drive for a bucket, to put NEVC up 9-6

Submitted photo/ The NEVC Lady Knights are all smiles after wrapping up the Golden Valley Vernon County Conference junior high girls championship, Saturday night in Bronaugh. From left to right: Head coach James Pommier, Kelly Dade, Hannah Davis, Hannah Rogers, Makinsey Conner, and Kiersten Diamond.

Early in the second quarter, Logan Conner missed two free throws, but was able to come up with a back court steal which he converted into a layup, putting the Knights up 11-8. The three point advantage would turn out to be the largest lead NEVC held the entire game.

Later in the second quarter, Leveall was fouled on a layup, making the free throw for a three point play to tie the game 11-11.

A steal and coast-to-coast layup by guard Mason Bogart gave the Panthers a 13-11 lead. With 2:47 left before halftime, the Panthers extended their lead to 15-11 when point guard Clayton Lloyd rebounded a missed free throw and banked the ball in from high off the glass. Lloyd was also fouled on the play, but missed the free throw attempt.

Jones brought the Knights to within two points after finishing off an end-to-end layup. However, Sheldon led 17-13 at halftime.

Second half

The Panthers went on top 19-13 early in the third quarter, when O'Connor, who was on the perimeter, made a perfect entry pass to fellow big man Leveall on the low block for a layup.

Harold Woodcock/Special to the Daily Mail/ Sheldon's Jason Leveall jumps above a trio of NEVC defenders during Saturday's junior high boys championship game played at Bronaugh High School.

"A lot of teams hope to have point guards that pass as good as he does," Sheldon head coach Tyler Judd said of O'Connor. "We want to get the ball inside to him, and when you have to respect the pass and the shot, he's just that much tougher to guard."

Sheldon extended their lead to 23-15 when Bryce Lamb drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing. An O'Conner layup with 3;45 left in the third quarter, made the score 24-17.

The Knights reeled off four quick points to slice the Panther lead to 24-21. The first basket came when point guard Jaxon Prough put a nice pump fake on Lamb, dribbled in a few steps, and drained a jump shot.

With 1:19 left to play in the third quarter, Jones took an inbound lob pass and was fouled while making the basket. Jones missed the free throw, but NEVC only trailed 25-23.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Knights crept to within a point at 28-27, after on offensive rebound put-back by Jones.

With NEVC threatening to take the lead, Leveall sank a 3-pointer from the right corner, and was also fouled on the play. Leveall was off target on the free throw, but his clutch 3-pointer gave the Panthers some breathing room as they took a 31-27 lead with 4:08 remaining in the game.

Submitted photo/ The NEVC Knights junior high boys GVVCC runner-up team. From left to right, back row: Head coach Brian Pommier, Kipton Brooks, Logan Conner, Blane Jones, Collen Dighero, Derek Keith, assistant coach Joel McDuffey; front row: Christopher Weisensee, Jaxon Prough, and James Rickey. Other team members are: Bryce Goodman, David McCoy, Zane Pitts, and Caleb Coetzee.

With only 1:37 left to play, O'Connor made a crisp pivot move from the left baseline, drawing an extra defender as he spun and delivered a perfect pass to Matt Bogart underneath the basket, for a layup and a 35-29 lead.

O'Connor finished with only 8 points, but Judd said O'Connor's impact on the game goes beyond just scoring.

"Regardless of whether he scores or not, he impacts the game one way or the other," Judd said of O'Connor. "Every time we would get the ball to him in the second half, he did something good with it. He either set up a teammate or he scored. He made countless good passes. He's very unselfish. It's hard to teach a kid to be unselfish, and he's got it."

Submitted photo/ The GVVCC junior high tournament champion Sheldon Panthers. From left to right, back row: Mason Bogart (21), Brett O' Connor (00), Clayton Lloyd (3), Matt Bogart (32), Dylan Brzuchowski (24), Jason Leveall (23), Head coach Tyler Judd. Other members of the team include: Bryce Lamb, Shyler Middleton, Ethan Copenhaver, Isaac Hall, Haven Bennett, and Anjelos Copenhaver.

A Prough 3-pointer with 58 seconds left drew NEVC within 35-32, but that was as close as they would get as the Panthers pulled away for the victory.

For NEVC, Jones finished with a game-high 17 points. Judd said that Jones is a tough player to slow.

"When you think about Northeast, he's the guy you've got to stop, or at least contain," he said. "And he's going to get his just because he is so athletic. He just has a knack for scoring. And he's a handful. And we just thought if we could slow him down, we would have a good chance.

"He just makes it tough because he never stops working. I can't say enough about that kid's work ethic. And it just seems like when the ball is in the air, he goes and gets it."

Judd said that the game plan was to double-team Jones.

"We wanted to try to put one in front and one in back, just to try to make them not be able to just pass it to him," Judd said. "They like to get it to him at the top of the key, and then he likes to go to his left. So we tried to keep the ball out of his hands.

Submitted photo/ Makinsey Conner (13) drives hard through the lane on the way to 2 of her game-high 17 points, in Saturday's championship game victory over the Montrose Bluejays. Also pictured are Montrose players Abby Vogel (30) and Jaidyn Steinbach (15).

"We didn't do a real good job of rebounding, and that's where he got a lot of his points."

NEVC vs Montrose

In the girls championship game, point guard Makinsey Conner put the Lady Knights up 6-0 after driving to the basket and laying the ball in.

Montrose sharpshooter Abby Vogel got the Bluejays on the board late in the first quarter after drilling a 3-pointer from the right corner, cutting NEVC's lead to 6-3.

The Lady Knights increased their lead to 14-3, but the Bluejays clawed back to within 14-12 at the halftime break.

The second half however, was a different story as the Lady Knights came out on fire.

With Conner leading the way offensively, the Lady Knights put on a clinic defensively, holding the Bluejays to 1 point the entire second half, outscoring them 18-1.

Conner and point guard Hannah Rogers combined for 29 of the team's 32 points, with Rogers scoring 12.

NEVC head coach Pommier said he was pleased with Conner's pristine performance. In addition to her 17 points, Conner was 3-for-8 at the charity stripe.

"She was aggressive and she took the ball to the hole," Pommier said. "If she didn't score, she got fouled and made free throws."

Pommier also said he was impressed with his team's defense, in particular the defense applied to Vogel.

"Vogel can shoot the lights out if she's open," he said. "For the most part they were in her face and didn't allow her to hit those. Really the key to the game going in was making sure she couldn't beat us."

After winning only three games a year ago, Conner and her teammates were overjoyed with the championship game win.

"It feels great," Conner said. "We play as a team and we're like family."

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