John Byrne/Battle Born Media Mineral County freshman Tony Dominguez works against a Word of Life defender in the DIV state semifinal game at Reed High School Friday night in Sparks. The Serpents led by as many as 11 in the third quarter, but lost in overtime 59-54. More photos on pages 8-9.

Late drama pushes game into overtime

SPARKS — Before this season, Mineral County had not advanced to the state tournament since 2010. Its last state title? 1964.

One of those streaks came to a close on Friday night. One will continue.

The Serpents were unable to hang onto an 11-point second-half lead over Las Vegas’ Word of Life Christian Academy and saw their season come to a close with a 59-54 overtime loss in a DIV state semifinal at Reed High School.

After finishing second in the regional tournament last week, Mineral County finished the season 17-11. The Eagles, the DIV South champ, improved to 18-3 and earned a spot in Saturday’s state title game against Whittell at Lawlor Events Center.

“It was a very good year,” Mineral County coach Pete Summerbell said. “Our goal was to get to state then they played one heck of a game against a pretty solid team from down there (Las Vegas). We felt we let it slip away, but that’s a little bit of youth.”

After Isaiah Crowl, the lone starting senior on the roster, hit a baseline runner midway through the third quarter, the Serpents led 41-30. They did not score again until the 3:33 mark in the fourth quarter when Crowl hit another  runner, from the elbow.

His 10th and final point of the night ended an 11-0 Word of Life run and gave the Serpents a 43-41 lead.

“We just got tentative,” Summerbell said of the late offensive woes. “We just kind of started not moving like we were earlier and kind of getting stuck out there. We weren’t quite running our offense and we let them catch us a little bit.”

The Eagles scored the next two buckets to take a 45-43 lead before junior big man Taylen Wachsmuth completed a traditional three-point play with 49.6 seconds left to give a one-point lead back to the Serpents. It was Wachsmuth’s first bucket of the second half. He finished with a game-high 17 points.

Jarrett Fisher responded with a three on the other end only for Wachsmuth to tie the contest with 10 seconds left. The Eagles’ would-be game winner lipped out and sent the semifinal to overtime.

Trailing by one with 16 seconds left in the extra period after an Andre Davis triple, Mineral County sent Word of Life to the charity stripe. Elijah Hoye missed the second after hitting the first but the Eagles corralled the rebound and Trenten McCall hit both freebies to push the lead to two possessions, 58-54, and effectively put the game away.

“When we came in, we knew we were (a big) underdog, according to everyone else,” Summerbell said. “We didn’t feel we were … I’m really happy with the boys.”

Robert McFalls finished with 12 points for Hawthorne. Davis had 11 and Crowl had eight.

At the half, the Serpents led 30-23, their largest advantage of the first 16 minutes. Davis drilled a triple midway through the second quarter to cap a 7-0 run that pushed Mineral County in front 21-17. The squads then traded buckets until McFalls extended the lead to 30-23 with 58 seconds left in the first half with another three.

Both squads missed a pair of shots in the waning seconds of the first half.

Mineral County started the contest on a 5-0 run only for Word of Life to respond with an 8-0 run of its own. Crowl ended the Eagles’ flurry with a triple from the corner to knot the semifinal at 8-8 before the first quarter ended in a 12-12 deadlock.

“I’m looking forward to next year already,” Summerbell said. “It’s a little tough. The kids are pretty down. But they’ll bounce back.”

Whittell went on to defeat Word of Life 53-48 the next day to win the DIV state title.