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FIFTH TIME CHARMING FOR TITLE-STARVED LAKE MEAD

RENO — It took five tries, but Lake Mead’s streak of futility in state basketball championship games finally came to an end Saturday night.

Stephen Byrd had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Eagles to a 61-43 victory over rival Trinity in the Class 1A boys state title game at Lawlor Events Center.

Lake Mead was making its fifth appearance in the state final in the last six seasons but had lost the first four, including a 61-59 loss to Trinity last season.

“Coming into this game, some of our guys were nervous,” Byrd said. “And I knew I had to step up to the plate and just try to play my game. I had to step up to the plate and show my team that I’m not scared.

“If I’m not scared, then they’re not scared.”

The Eagles struggled shooting the basketball at the start of every quarter but knocked down an outside shot to start a run late in the third quarter. Senior Jared Dean hit a 3-pointer with 2:52 to go in the third to put the Eagles up 30-28, and Lake Mead didn’t trail again.

Dean’s 3-pointer started a 13-0 run that saw the Eagles stretch the lead to 40-28 on two free throws by Landon Littlefield.

“I would have loved to get the others, but it makes this one way more sweeter,” Dean said. “I wouldn’t have picked a more perfect ending to this game.”

Lake Mead forced 11 turnovers in the third quarter, and seven of the points during the key stretch came off turnovers.

After Dean helped give the Eagles the edge, Byrd took over in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points and using his ballhandling ability to run clock and drive to the basket.

Byrd also had three assists, two steals and two blocked shots for Lake Mead, which forced 28 turnovers.

Dean added 13 points and Littlefield 10 for the Eagles. It was the fourth meeting of the season between the teams.

Lake Mead beat Trinity twice during the regular season, 70-47 and 71-55. The Eagles also beat the Thunder 71-55 in the Class 1A Southern Region final.

“We wanted to get it for Coach (Jeff Newton). We wanted to get it for ourselves,” Dean said. “I’ve been in the program for eight years now, and we just wanted it more, I think, tonight.

“We wanted it last year, but we got it this year.”

Contact reporter Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or (702) 380-4587.

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