RENO – Redemption proved to be extra sweet for Clark Chargers on Saturday afternoon at the Lawlor Events Center.
After blowing a large fourth quarter lead and narrowly losing to Desert Pines, 59-57, in last year’s State Division 1-A title game, the Chargers left no doubt this time around, using a tenacious defense to blow out Elko, 43-25.
Point guard Colby Jackson led with the way with a game-high 14 points while Carter Olsen added 13 points. Senior Sherron Wilson scored eight points off the bench and combined with Wyoming-bound forward Diontae Jones (six points) to help totally shut down the Indians inside.
The Chargers held Elko to just eight first half points and 0-for-11 shooting from 3-point range en route to a 22-8 halftime lead.
“Last year we were crying in the locker room at the Orleans (Arena),” Jackson said. “This year we’re celebrating. It feels good.”
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“It feels great to finish and go out the right way my senior year,” Jones added.
The Chargers did it with a suffocating defense that had the Indians, who rolled up 65 points in a semifinal win over Desert Pines a day earlier, completely flustered.
Beeten scouted the first half of that game and then prepped his team on Friday night in a hotel meeting room.
“Diontae’s head was almost scrapping the ceiling in there,” Beeten joked.
Elko guards Nathan Klekas and Brandon Jenkins, who combined for 39 points and five 3-pointers against Desert Pines, totaled just 10 points and made just one trey against the Chargers.
“We were prepared,” Jackson said. “We knew they ran a lot of ball screens, so we liked to trap the ball screens. So every time we trapped and rotated, they were stuck. They didn’t know what to do.”
Elko, which scored 19 points alone in its second quarter against Desert Pines, was still stuck on 15 points after three quarters against Clark.
When the final horn sounded, an emotional Jones could be seen wiping away tears during a wild celebration.
“We had that bitter taste in our mouths from last year and some unfinished business,” Beeten said. “Most of these guys were returning from last year so I just couldn’t be prouder of the way the kids performed and acted and put that effort in.”