Mojave’s Melvin Irvey missed his first three 3-point attempts of the second half Thursday at Faith Lutheran.
But the junior guard finished strong, knocking down his final three 3s to help the Rattlers to a 57-46 win over the Crusaders.
“Melvin’s always a spark plug for us,” Mojave coach Colin Darfour said. “Melvin Irvey, I can’t say enough good things about that kid. He’s come a long way. He was rough around the edges when we first got him. But he’s been coachable, he’s stuck with it, and he’s been making huge shots for us all season long. And today was no different.”
Irvey’s biggest shot came with 2:44 to play after Faith Lutheran had cut Mojave’s lead to 44-41. The Rattlers (13-12, 5-3 Sunset League) got the ball to Kemario Williams in the high post, and Williams found Irvey open in the left corner for a 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to six at 47-41. Faith Lutheran would get no closer than four after that.
It was Irvey’s second big 3 to stem Faith Lutheran’s momentum. Matt Blair hit a long 3-pointer from the right wing for the Crusaders with 12 seconds to go in the third quarter to cut the Rattlers’ lead to 39-32. But Irvey answered with an even longer 3-pointer from the left wing as the quarter ended to push the lead back to 10.
Irvey finished with 17 points and three steals. He had nine points in the second half to help pick up the slack for swingman Malik Abbott, who played sparingly because of foul trouble.
Abbott picked up three fouls in the first half and didn’t see the court again until the 4:07 mark of the third quarter. But he lasted just four seconds before picking up his fourth foul and heading back to the bench.
Darryl Adams also scored 17 points for Mojave, and the sophomore hit 6 of 8 free throws in the final 2:05. The Rattlers were just 13-for-25 from the line.
“I liked how Darryl Adams knocked down his free throws at the end of the game, because during the game I felt like we couldn’t make a free throw,” Darfour said. “We couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean from the free-throw line for most of the game.”
Williams and Jordan Glenn each had eight rebounds for Mojave, which moved within a half game of second-place Cheyenne in the Sunset.
“It was definitely one of our biggest games of the season, ” Darfour said. “We definitely want that second seed. We need that home game for the first round of the playoffs.”
Mitch Fulfer had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Clayton Holthaus added nine points and 12 rebounds for the Crusaders (12-13, 4-4).
Contact reporter Damon Seiters at 702-380-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.