SPRING VALLEY — Senior guard Taggert Venegas ended a quiet offensive night, hitting the biggest shot of the game with two seconds left just inside the three-point line to lift the Hall Red Devils over the Orion Chargers 65-64 Thursday. It was his only basket of the night.
With 28 seconds left in the game, Hall senior guard Miguel Villarreal knocked down a big three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Red Devils a 63-62 lead.
Orion quickly answered as sophomore guard Noah Clarke cut hard towards the basket for two points while drawing a foul. He missed the one and one, leaving the door open for the Red Devils with 11.4 seconds left on the clock and trailing by only one point.
After a Red Devils timeout, Villarreal looked to drive to the basket but couldn’t find an opening when Venegas popped wide open out to the baseline and drilled the game-winner a foot inside the three-point line.
“I told the kids that the way you played the first half you deserved to lose, and the way you played the second half you deserved to win. Whether they would have made a miracle last shot or something they still deserved to win because we out played them the second half, and lucky for us we made one extra play than they did,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said.
After taking a quick 8-0 lead the Red Devils steadily let the Chargers, who went on a 10-2 scoring run late in the second quarter to take a 33-21 lead with 1:13 left in the half.
Hall battled back into the game with a 12-2 run spanning the last 48 seconds of the second quarter until the 4:42 mark of the third, cutting the Charger lead to four points with the score of 37-33.
“Hall did a nice job in the second half. They came out and extended the pressure a little bit. They got some pressure on the basketball, we just didn’t do well enough of actually taking care of the basketball,” Orion coach Brent Hutton said. “It’s been kind of our nemesis is that we get some pressure on us and we just make some really bad decisions with the ball but a lot of it was caused by their hustle.”
Filippini attributes the streaky play to a long layoff due to not practicing over the weekend and the winter storm that kept the team from practicing Monday and Tuesday as well.
“I think we were a little rusty,” Filippini said. “We gave them a stern talking to at halftime, threw some stuff in the locker room and it seemed to get them going. I don’t know if that stuff works but it seemed to work tonight because we came out in the second half and played a lot better.”
For the remainder of the game, each team would trade small leads and baskets until the pivotal game winning shot by Venegas sealed the Red Devils’ victory.
“These kids don’t quit, and they’ve done that all year long. They haven’t quit all year long and that’s a great quality to have,” Filippini said. “We told them we don’t have a good enough team to play half of a game and expect to win, we got lucky at the end of the game but we deserved to win.”
The Red Devil offense was led by Villarreal with a game-high 22 points, junior guard A.J Gaeta (13) and senior forward Austin Schmitt (12).
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