SHINGLE SPRINGS — Riding the hot hands of Taylor Bybee and Zacc Williams, host Ponderosa High overcame a slow start Friday to overtake Nevada Union in the second half for a 71-65 victory in second round action at the Gold Dust Tournament.
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The Bruins’ first victory of the season squared their tournament record at 1-1 and set up tonight’s consolation championship against either Whitney or Rosemont. That encounter tips off at 5 p.m. at El Dorado High School.
The Miners led Ponderosa 20-5 late in the first quarter before the Bruins awoke from their offensive misfires. Three-pointers from Bybee, Williams and Jordan Smith along with the rugged inside play of Dom Campodonico brought the Bruins back and the home team closed the half on a 9-0 run to trail just 35-31 at the break.
“In our time-out late in the first quarter I told the team that this was ‘a gut-check time and that this could be a preseason-defining game … did we want to play for last place tomorrow in the Gold Dust Tournament?’ I didn’t and they didn’t,” Ponderosa coach Andy Beal said. “As I’ve said, when we make our shots we can be pretty good. We have the weapons – it’s a matter whether we can play to our capability. Tonight we dug ourselves a hole but fortunately had the heart to come back.”
Though Nevada Union’s Colin Lee hit four threes in the third quarter to extend the Miners’ lead, Bybee hit three straight to rally the home team to a 44-all tie. Overall, the Bruins sank 10 from behind the arc, seven by Bybee, while the visitors made eight from downtown.
“There’s was no way we were going to lose on the home court twice in a row,” said Bybee who led all scorers with 23 points. “For the most part it was a matter of executing and hitting our shots. Zacc (Williams) did a great job driving to the hoop and dishing it back out.”
If Beal felt Friday’s early turnaround was a defining moment, so was the spirited second-half play of Travis Fisher and then Ryan Miles. Both injected much-needed energy into Ponderosa’s play – Fisher’s go-to-the-floor steals and six third-quarter points helped the Bruins forge a 51-51 tie going to the fourth and in the final frame, Miles hit a big three from the corner on Griffin Fontana’s kick-out to give Ponderosa just its second lead of the game.
“We’re a 12-man team and everyone has a role. We want to play with energy and we did that tonight,” Beal said.
Williams added 20 points to the Bruins’ scoring column on a variety of mid-range jumpers and tough drives to the basket. He was also instrumental in slowing down Nevada Union’s Chris Porter who put in 21 points but only two after halftime.
“We didn’t come out strong but once the second quarter came around we felt we could come back and win,” Williams said. “We were hurting ourselves, not them (Miners), and once we got over that everything started clicking.”
A banker by Miles erased Nevada Union’s one-point lead with 2:50 left and after Lee (20 points, 19 in the second half) answered with a slash to the basket, Williams made a tough shot in traffic at the 1:16 mark to give Ponderosa the lead for good. Bybee then hit both ends of a one-and-one from the free throw line, Campodonico finessed in a double-pump from the baseline and a Chris Brown free throw closed the scoring.
Before he fouled out, Fisher finished with eight points; Campodonico added seven; Smith and Miles had five; Justin Obereiner, two; and Brown a free throw.