Darnell Washington isn’t the most polished basketball player. But the highly recruited football player turned basketball big man certainly makes an impact for Desert Pines.
Washington had 11 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots Tuesday to lead the fourth-ranked Jaguars to a 71-58 home win over No. 10 Canyon Springs.
“He can play,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said of the 6-foot-7-inch, 255-pound Washington. “For the two years that he’s been playing, I’ve seen some amazing growth from him. So he’s a player, for sure.”
Washington had a couple of miscues, like the pair of ill-advised 3-point attempts and the play where he tried to take a rebound coast-to-coast and lost control of the ball trying to dribble behind his back in traffic.
But he also dominated the glass, leading the Jaguars (19-6, 11-0 Northeast League) to a 42-27 rebound advantage. And he intimidated inside, changing numerous shots and forcing other players to abandon inside scoring chances altogether.
“It’s a great presence,” Uzan said. “It makes it a lot easier for a lot of us.”
The Jaguars were red-hot to start the game, making 11 of 14 field goals in the first quarter and grabbing a 27-15 lead.
“We had high energy and shots were falling,” Uzan said. “It makes it an easier game for us sometimes.”
Alexander Spaight kept Canyon Springs (15-6, 7-4) in the game in the first half, scoring 21 of his 27 points before halftime to keep the Pioneers within striking distance.
Kayvon Alexander had 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter for Canyon Springs, including a tip-in as time expired in the third quarter that cut the lead to 54-53.
But Desert Pines scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter and cruised down the stretch.
“We just had to regroup,” Uzan said. “It’s a young group, and sometimes they let the emotions get them.”
Milos Uzan, the coach’s son, had 16 points, five rebounds and six assists. Dayshawn Wiley added 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Semaj Threats had 10 points and six rebounds for the Jaguars.