Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 | 11 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer stumble through a conversation on how they would handle coaching in certain situations at the end of games. They also discuss what teams moved their stock up last week, most notably Las Vegas High.
Seven years worth of bad memories went up in flames Wednesday night for the Arbor View boy’s basketball team.
Junior swingman Justin Burks, and the rest of his Aggie teammates, held the torches. After losing 14 consecutive times to Palo Verde by an astounding average of 18 points per game, Arbor View beat its divisional rival for the first time in school history.
Arbor View 76, Palo Verde 63.
“It means a lot to us,” Burks said. “It’s history in the making, history for our team. It feels great.”
Burks may make a whole record book worth of history by the time he graduates 17 months from now. At this rate, Burks is on pace to become the best player in school history.
Already ranking as one of the top 10 scorers in the state with more than 20 points per game coming into the showdown with Palo Verde, Burks put on his best performance of the season.
He scored 28 points, including four 3-pointers in the first half, with seven rebounds and three assists.
“He’s a phenomenal talent, but a wonderful young man,” Arbor View coach Kyle Hageness said. “He’s a kid who the other kids build off, absolutely.”
Burks admitted frustration with the repeated disappointment previously against the Panthers, but he didn’t let it get in the way this time. The Aggies never trailed, firing off to a 19-9 start that proved a big enough cushion for the rest of the contest.
Senior Navonte Hill — who had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists — and junior Terrell Butler — who had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists — keyed the hot start by frantically pushing the pace.
Along with junior Isaiah Simmons, who had eight of his 10 rebounds in the first quarter, the Aggies worked seamlessly together and got each other open looks on fast breaks.
“The things our kids do very well are the things we can’t coach,” Hageness said. “They run, get up and down the floor and are aggressive in transition.”
Palo Verde made a couple of midgame runs behind Burks’ friend and fellow standout junior Darryl Gaynor, who had 18 points and five rebounds, but Arbor View always answered before it was too late.
The Panthers most furious surge came in the fourth quarter when senior Eris Winder scored five straight points. Winder, who still managed 17 points on what seemed to be a rare off night, pulled up in transition to sink a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 64-61.
Hageness called timeout and reminded his team to take it easy and run the offense. On two straight possessions, Arbor View made several passes before finding junior Chuck Porter alone behind the three-point line.
Porter hit both shots, one from each of the wings.
“Those were humongous shots for us,” Hageness said. “That was the difference in the game, it really was.”
Porter had 13 points on the night. Burks had no problem ceding control and letting the open man take the game’s biggest shots.
“We just knew we were going to win the game the whole time,” Burks said. “We stayed patient, and when the shot was open, we hit it.”
The Aggies shared high-fives and embraced each other outside their locker room minutes after the game ended. As far as they’re concerned, only charred remnants remain of Palo Verde’s near-decade-long hold on their program.
For at least the next 2 1/2 weeks, Palo Verde will stare up at Arbor View in the Northwest League standings.
“We’re off until Jan. 7, so going into the break, to leave our kids with this kind of high and energy level is huge,” Hageness said.