Rancho forwards excel in tournament victory

Rancho boys basketball coach Melvin Shivers insists his team’s forwards can be difficult to defend.

On Saturday in the opening game of the Las Vegas Prep Championships, the Rams proved their coach right.

Amir Royal, Tyler Gaston and Kevin Plascencia combined for 60 points as Rancho scored 54 points in the paint on the way to a 75-62 win over Spring Creek at Las Vegas High.

“Teams have had a hard time matching up with our frontcourt,” Shivers said. “I don’t think anybody can match up with us inside. Our weak point has been our guards. We’ll go as far as our big men take us.”

Royal and Gaston are 6 feet 5 inches, and Plascencia is 6-3, but each seemed to play much larger Saturday. The trio also combined for 25 rebounds.

And the Rams (6-4) took advantage of Spring Creek’s man-to-man defense to continue to work the ball inside. Rancho’s first 12 baskets all came from inside the paint.

Still, the Rams led only 32-29 at the half before opening up the game in the final two quarters, due largely to Royal.

The senior scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half and sprinkled a little diversity into Rancho’s offense with three 3-pointers.

“Amir’s a very skillful offensive player,” Shivers said. “We look to him for our offensive punch.”

Gaston had 16 points and 12 rebounds, seven of those offensive. Plascencia, who battled foul trouble, scored 15.

“Tyler is a beast down on the block,” Shivers said. “He’s an all-state football player, and we like him to bring that mentality to the court.”

Rancho committed only 15 turnovers in the game, about half of what the team had in each of its two losses in last week’s Amare Stoudemire Each 1 Teach 1 tournament at Durango. Rancho went 2-2 in that tourney and has won four of its past six.

David Morrell led Spring Creek with 33 points.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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