RENO — Durango once had the best boys basketball program among public schools in Southern Nevada. So when Chad Beeten accepted the head coaching position in May, he did so with the intention of restoring its glory.
He just didn’t know it would happen so quickly.
The Trailblazers rolled to a 70-47 victory over Reed on Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center and will continue their quest for their first state championship since 1996 against Desert Pines on Thursday in the Class 4A state semifinals. Bishop Gorman plays Spanish Springs in the other Class 4A semifinal game.
The winners will play for the state championship Friday.
“We certainly thought if things go our way, if everything bounced the right way, that maybe we’d have an opportunity,” Beeten said. “This is the result of buying in, working hard and playing together.”
Beeten was hired to replace longtime coach DeShawn Henry at Durango in May after a successful tenure at Clark that included three consecutive Class 3A state championships from 2014-16 and a trip to the Class 4A state championship game in 2019. Beeten’s teams at Clark played rather methodically, relying on a suffocating man-to-man defense and precise execution of their half-court offense.
But with Division I caliber guards at Durango like Anthony Hunter, Keshon Gilbert and Sebastian Mack, the Trailblazers are playing faster than his teams in the past.
“That’s where our strengths are, on the perimeter,” Beeten said. “Our guards are creators. We’ve just been working on tweaking things to play to our strengths. We’re playing to our strengths. That’s the best we can do.”
The Trailblazers (21-9) posted their first 20-win season since 2008-09 and knocked off Coronado and Faith Lutheran to earn a trip to Reno and a place in the Class 4A quarterfinals opposite Reed. They struggled in the first quarter against the Raiders’ zone defense, but built an 11-8 lead before quickening the tempo in the second and third quarters.
Hunter and Keshon Gilbert probed the paint and kicked to open shooters or dropped passes to cutters, and Reed struggled to keep pace. Mack scored a game-high 25 points, Kendrick Gilbert added 14 points and Hunter finished with eight points and eight assists.
For Durango, now it’s on to Desert Pines, another top public school program.
“I just feel like it’s all coming together,” said Hunter, a senior who previously endured three straight losing seasons. “The questions people always asked me were, ‘You guys are so good, how far can you guys really go?’ We kept that chip on our shoulder. … It’s feels so good to go out like this my senior year, no matter what happens.”
Incline 58, The Meadows 52 — At Lawlor Events Center, Jake Bevacqua scored 22 for the Mustangs and and Obinna Ezeanolue added 14 points in the Class 2A state tournament semifinals. Brody Thralls had a team-high 18 points for the Highlanders.
West Wendover 68, Lincoln County 58 — At Lawlor Events Center, Cody Zile had 23 points for the Lynx and Kobe Kelley scored 16 in the other semifinal. Jesus Gonzalez led the Wolverines with 16 points and Diego Cuevas added 11 points.
Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon @reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.