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Tuss steps outside, shoots Durango past Spring Valley

Standing 6 feet 7 inches, Joe Tuss is often relied upon to be a force in the paint for Durango’s boys basketball team.

The versatile senior showed Thursday he can be pretty good from the perimeter, too.

Tuss made all five of his 3-pointers in the second half on his way to 22 points, and Durango rode the surge to a 79-68 home victory over Southwest League rival Spring Valley.

“It’s very unique,” Durango coach DeShawn Henry said of Tuss’ shooting ability. “It’s a big luxury for us. He’s a great kid, a hard worker. Him being a senior, we’re leaning on him a lot.”

Tuss made a 3-pointer from the top of the arc early in the fourth quarter to cap a 39-18 run that gave Durango (6-5, 2-1) a 68-51 lead.

Tuss scored 20 points after halftime. The wiry senior finished 8-for-13 from the field, including 5-for-8 on 3-pointers, and grabbed 12 rebounds.

“The first half, I wasn’t feeling it at all,” Tuss said. “But once I knocked down one or two, it was an open game for me.

“(Henry) told me at the end of last year I was going to have to be a leader this year, so in the summer I worked out as hard as I could, and I got better.”

While Spring Valley (4-3, 2-2) shot only 4-for-18 on 3-pointers, Durango was 9-for-17.

“(Tuss) was willing to put in the time to get better, and he’s a guy who wants to spend some extra time in the gym,” Henry said. “He gets here early, wants to understand the game and watches film.”

Durango junior forward Tyler Watts scored 15 points off the bench, including an alley-oop slam off a pass from Tyler Jones in the second-half run.

“(Watts) was a big help for us,” Henry said. “Believe it or not, he’s been sick the last two days, and I think he was feeling better. This was a coming-out for him.”

Jones had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists for Durango, and Tre’Vonn Wells added 13 points. Paris Estrada had four steals.

DeShaun Nowlin led Spring Valley with 24 points and five rebounds. Shannon Nolan had 15 points, and Rahfe’l King and Sean Clancey scored 10 apiece.

Tuss said the Trailblazers are glad to continue to build momentum with their second straight league victory after a 93-53 loss at Bishop Gorman on Dec. 9.

“It was a big game,” he said. “We had Gorman, and that put our hopes down, but this game and the Sierra Vista game brought our hopes back up, so it’s a good win for us.”

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