Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 | 11:45 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer work through their final podcast of the school year by discussing the state basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena this weekend.
- Margin of victory in Gorman's fourth state title in five years is surprising
- Gorman girls finish second, turn eye toward future
- Centennial rallies to force overtime, knock off Canyon Springs for date with Gorman in state finals
- Rashad Muhammad's 29 points, big fourth-quarter lift Gorman to state basketball finals
- Stanley's steals key Gorman girls' trip to state championship game
- Nevada's best high school basketball team may still be debated after state tournament
- With 2011 semifinal loss as a reminder, power Gorman knows winning another championship won't be easy
- The Allen twins get all the credit, but Centennial's berth at state more than a two-person show
- HS Basketball Picks: State Tournament Edition
- High school basketball section
With the state high school basketball championship game tied and just seconds remaining, everyone at the Orleans Arena knew who would get the ball for Desert Pines High in the Division I-A finals against Clark.
It was Julian Jacobs’ game to win. And rightfully so.
Jacobs, a senior guard who is signed with USC, led a frantic comeback by Desert Pines in the fourth quarter, helping the Jaguars erase a 12-point deficit to set the table for the dramatic finish.
Jacobs dribbled the ball around the 3-point arch in draining time off the clock, then zipped a perfect pass to an open Trevion Turner streaking to the basket. Turner’s short jumper with 17.2 seconds remaining were the winning points, giving Desert Pines a 59-57 victory and the school’s first championship since opening in 1999.
“We wanted (Jacobs) to have the ball in his hands the whole time,” Turner said. “We knew he could create plays. I don’t care what anyone says, he is like LeBron James of high school. He can create for himself and his teammates. I love playing with these guys and playing with Julian.”
Clark had one last attempt at tying the game.
Sir Washington, one of the Chargers’ top players, dribbled the ball the length of the court and got in position to attempt a layup. However, his shot rimmed in and out and Desert Pines’ Rameek Keith grabbed the rebound to seal the win.
Soon, it was complete jubilation.
Jacobs, who got into early foul trouble and sat the final four minutes of the first quarter when Clark grew its advantage to 17-5, threw the ball high into the air as the final buzzer sounded. He was immediately swarmed by teammates and students in celebration.
“I’m really just lost for words right now. What an awesome feeling,” said Jacobs, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
Clark led 47-35 entering the fourth quarter, but Desert Pines turned up the defensive intensity with its full-court pressure to create several turnovers and trim its deficit to 49-46 midway through the quarter.
Jacobs had 10 points and three assists in the quarter and Clark was limited to just three field goals with nearly 10 turnovers. The Jaguars held Clark scoreless in the final 2 minutes, 7 seconds in closing on a 5-0 scoring run.
“He is an awesome kid. He is a class act,” Desert Pines coach Mike Uzan said. ”He is just a great kid. I am not a fortune teller, but I see a lot of great things in his future. The kid is awesome, fantastic. Everyone loves him. He deserves this. He really does.”
Clark led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, with Sherron Wilson scoring 10 fast points, including a 3-pointer with 5:20 to play before halftime to give Clark a 24-7 lead.
At the point in the game, Jacobs had just one field goal attempt and two points because of the foul trouble. And while Jacobs had just two first-half points, it was the contributions from Desert Pines’ other players that kept the score reasonably close. Coby Miles and Keith had a pair of baskets in the second quarter to keep the game from being a blowout.
“We are a team. The kids believe in each other,” Uzan said. “They bought into what we do and they buy into each other. It has been like that all year for us. We really believe in each other.”
Uzan’s strategy to weather the Clark scoring outburst early in saving Jacobs for the fourth quarter paid off. Jacobs, despite picking up his fourth foul with seven minutes remaining, controlled the pace of the game late and was the best player on the court.
“I was really frustrated picking up those two quick fouls and obviously wanted to get back in there,” Jacobs said. “But coach knows what he is doing and saved me for the right time.”
Donovan Wright, Desert Pines’ other senior leader, gave the Jaguars their first lead of the game, 54-53, with 2:55 remaining in scoring 13 points.
Desert Pines finishes the season with a 28-3 record, losing just once to a Nevada opponent. Three weeks ago, they were beaten by only two points by national power Findlay Prep — the Henderson program is ranked No. 1 nationally and doesn’t compete in the Nevada playoffs.
This was the first season in the lower Division I-A for both Desert Pines and Clark, which were regarded as two of the state’s top teams despite not playing in a league with the city’s other quality teams. Bishop Gorman won its fourth large-school title in five years Friday in beating Centennial, opening the door for reporters to ask Uzan what would happen if his team played Gorman.
The coach, who has been vocal about moving down a classification, smiled while gathering his thoughts. He knew it was a discussion for another time and didn’t want to take anything away from his team’s accomplishment.
But he’s never shy about wanting to play the best.
“You got me on the spot,” Uzan said “We’d love to play them, I tell you that. They are good. We know that. We would just like the opportunity to play them and put all the questions aside. ... We would like the opportunity to compete with Gorman, or whoever would like to play us.”
Senior Malcolm Davis scored 17 points to lead Clark, which returns sophomore point guard Colby Jackson and junior forward Diontae Jones next year, and will likely again be a contender.