A pair of clutch free throws and a powerful spark from a returning player helped Gilbert edge out a non-conference Nevada opponent in a thrilling 72-70 boys basketball game on Monday in Nevada.
The Tigers led most of the second half after being 11 points behind at the start. The two teams went back and forth for the last four minutes until freshman point guard Billy Terrones broke the 70-70 tie by hitting two free throws with 9.7 seconds to go to record the Tiger’s three-game loss.
“It was great,” Gilbert’s head coach B.J. Terrones said. “After last Saturday when the game (Webster City) came to an end (lost 65-59 to the Tigers), I was very happy that they were able to close it.”
The win put the Tigers 4–11 on the season. They are 4-3 years old since they returned from Christmas holidays.
Nevada fell to 9-5. It was the Cubs’ second close loss in a row after falling in Class 2A #4 Roland-Story, 85-80, Jan. 17.
Here’s what we learned from the exciting rivalry.
Billy Terrones is gaining momentum
Billy Terrones didn’t look like a freshman when he came on the line in the final seconds.
Terrones got one chance after being fouled on the perimeter as the clock was running out. He calmly walked to the charity lane and gently parried a shot from the ring, which swept to give him a second free throw.
“I knew it wasn’t over yet,” Terrones said. “I should have made another one.”
The second penalty went exactly like the first, hitting the ring and then going over the net, resulting in the Tigers winning two.
“It was very loud, but I was completely focused on the game,” said Billy Terrones. “It was like a regular free throw in practice.”
More:Gilbert Boys Basketball Turned the Tide with Freshman Guard Billy Terrones in the Lead
Nevada failed to return their final possession as Jacob Hunsurath’s three-pointer failed.
“We’re big rivals and it’s the first time I’ve played them in high school,” Terrones said. “I’m just really happy.”
Brody Haig cheers Gilbert up
Gilbert’s sophomore Brody Haig has been unlucky in his health in the last few months.
A back injury kept Haig out of the squad until Saturday’s game against Webster City. He had 6 points on 2 of 9 shots against the Lynx, but Monday was a different story.
Haig made three three-pointers and scored 17 points against the Cubs.
“I just got locked up,” Haig said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this if people hadn’t come out on the lane and thrown the ball, creating wide-open shots.”
His performance amazed his teammates.
“Recovering from an injury is not easy,” said Gilbert forward Alex Ruba. “He came over very quickly. He made his first two shots and I said to myself, give him the ball. He was on fire.”
It also took Nevada by surprise.
“I caught Coach Terrones after the game and told him where this guy came from,” Nevada head coach Tyler Strook said. “He kind of chuckled and said, ‘Oh yeah, he got hurt this summer too when we fought.’ He was a SP guy last year and I didn’t see him. I have to give credit to coach Terrones too – his starting XI was very driven and that’s how we played them defensively, so putting in a guy who he knows can do a couple of triples is smart.”
Ruba led Gilbert by 20 points and added eight rebounds. Billy Terrones had 11 points and five assists, while Isaac Wilcox had 7 points and six rebounds.
Nevada catches another hard break
Nevada had to sit out a missed opportunity against Roland-Story for six days.
The Cubs fired up against Gilbert and quickly pulled ahead. But Haig’s shot, Ruba’s aggressiveness and Billy Terrones’ play proved too big to overcome.
But Struck was pleased with how his team ended the game. Gilbert led 61-52 with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter and Nevada rallied to equalize with two free throws from Carson Rhodes with 30 seconds left before Terrones hit his winning penalty.
More:Carson Rhodes missed his senior football season. He plans to catch up with the Nevada HS basketball club.
“In the end, I’m happy with how we fought,” Strack said. “When they got it to nine in the fourth quarter, I think we would have lost 10, 11 or 12 points earlier this year. For us to find a way to come back, I’m really proud of how our kids fought.”
Easton Gray hit six 3-pointers to lead Nevada with 18 points. Alec Higgins has 11 points each, Rhodes and John Nelson have 10.
Khunsurat, Nevada’s leading scorer with 19.8 points per game, held on to 7 points.