Spring Mountain basketball coach Ed Cheltenham knew his team faced a tall task as he sent his players onto the court Monday. With his squad facing a bigger, more experienced opponent, the coach primarily hoped his young players would learn some valuable lessons.
Instead, the Eagles played even with small-school powerhouse Layton Christian (Utah) for nearly a half before eventually falling 72-42 in the Vegas Invitational at Mountain View.
Roemello Brandon had nine points, 13 rebounds and six steals to lead Spring Mountain, which went 1-1 on the day after defeating Calvary Chapel 60-49 in opening-round play.
“This group of kids has never played organized basketball before,” Cheltenham said. “They’re playground ballplayers, and they don’t understand the team concept. It will take time, but they’ll get it. I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
Things did not look good for the Eagles in the opening minutes, as Layton needed just three minutes to build an 11-0 lead. But Brandon’s rebound and layup with 4:39 left in the first quarter ignited a 9-0 scoring run for Spring Mountain, and Marquion White’s 3-pointer from the right corner cut the deficit to 13-12 with 31 seconds to go.
Though the Eagles appeared overmatched from the start, they controlled the backboards early.
Brandon, who had five rebounds in the first quarter, provided his team with second-chance opportunities that helped keep the score close.
“I just knew I had to play hard and get some rebounds,” Brandon said. “That’s my job.”
Cheltenham said rebounding was the key.
“That’s what kept us in the game,” he said. “They’re a lot bigger and a lot more experienced.”
But Layton began applying more defensive pressure late in the second quarter and finished with an 8-0 scoring spurt to pull ahead 31-21 at halftime.
“That full-court pressure got our kids down,” Cheltenham said. “They didn’t understand how to help each other out.”
Spring Mountain never recovered, as Layton opened the second half with a 20-4 run to go ahead 51-25. The Eagles’ dominance of the backboards subsided, meanwhile, and they trailed by at least 20 points the rest of the way.
Cheltenham said he was pleased with his team’s performance despite the loss, pointing out that his players gained experience that could carry through the rest of the season.
“This will help when we go into league play,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to see that much pressure in league.”
White scored all of his team-high 12 points in the first half to lead the Eagles.
Remington Rawlings had 20 points and four steals to lead Layton.
Spring Mountain 60, Calvary Chapel 49 — White had 17 points as the Eagles built an early lead and hung on to defeat the Lions in first-round action.
Brandon added 12 points for Spring Mountain.
Drew Hammond led Calvary Chapel with 21 points.
Lake Mead 85, Tech 60 — Justin Yamzon set a tournament record with 51 points as he helped the Eagles cruise past the Roadrunners.
Caleb Pitman added 13 points for Lake Mead.
Manny Vieites scored 17 points to lead Tech.
Mountain View 70, Monsignor McCoy (Canada) 62 — Trevor Van Kempen scored 20 points to help the Saints rally past the Colts.
Logan Christie and T.J. Kissinger each added 11 points for Mountain View, which trailed 35-30 at halftime.
St. Joseph (Calif.) 109, Mountain View 66 — Bebe Vargas tallied 28 points, and St. Joseph put up a tournament record for points in a game en route to the win.
Matt Larson had 21 points for the Saints, who led 17-16 after a quarter. Van Kempen added 13 points, and Kissinger scored 10 for Mountain View.
Agassi Prep 61, River Valley (Ariz.) 37 — DeCari Lide had 12 points to help the Stars roll past the Dust Devils.
Darryl Green helped Agassi Prep with 11 points, and teammate Anson Williams scored 10.
The Meadows 64, Desert Christian (Calif.) 57 — Max Newman scored 24 points, and the Mustangs bounced back to win in overtime after squandering an 18-point first-quarter lead.
Garrett Gosse had 17 points for The Meadows, which led 23-5 after one quarter, but only 30-28 at the half.
Lance Jackson led Desert Christian with 17 points.
Rancho 76, Clark County (Idaho) 38 — Chris Beverly had 27 points, and the Rams built a 49-20 halftime lead en route to the win.
Ciaran Subira added 15 points for the Rams.