Sun file photo
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 | 11:40 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer discuss the high school basketball playoffs, disagreeing on both brackets. Case likes Canyon Springs to win the Sunrise Regional; Ray think they lose in the first round.
The Palo Verde High boys basketball team erased a nine-point fourth quarter deficit with the aid of a 22-6 scoring spurt to defeat host Clark 70-64 Wednesday and advance to the Sunset Regional semifinals.
Junior point guard Eris Winder led the way for the Panthers with a game-high 28 points, including 11 in the final quarter to help spur the comeback.
“He played incredible. That was his best game all year,” Palo Verde coach Jermone Riley said. “He didn’t take a possession off. He was enthused the entire time. He played under control and controlled tempo. Eris had a great performance.”
Clark took a 55-46 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Sir Washington driving layup, which capped a 10-1 scoring run for the Chargers.
Just as it appeared the game was getting away from the Panthers, Winder came up with a steal and drew a foul on the made layup to convert an old-fashioned three-point play.
“That really changed the momentum,” Winder said. "When we’re down in the game, we like to use the press defense. It really helped us. It helps speed our offense up.”
Moments later, Palo Verde guard Darryl Gaynor stole a Clark inbounds pass and converted a layup to trim the Panthers deficit to 55-51.
Palo Verde took the lead for good on a Gaynor 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:47 remaining to give the Panthers a 60-59 advantage.
After Clark’s Diontae Jones missed two free-throw attempts on the Chargers' ensuing possession, Panther senior center Michael Buchanan Jr. used an offensive rebound and putback to extend the lead to 62-59.
Winder helped cement the game for the Panthers as the junior made 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the final two minutes of action to complete the comeback over the host Chargers.
“Our shirts say ‘play as one, act as one, win as one,’ so I just had to do it for the team,” Winder said. “We are all just one and I had to do it for them.”
The game remained tight throughout the duration of the contest with the Chargers’ nine-point lead in the fourth quarter being the largest lead of the game for either team.
Clark ended the third quarter on a 6-0 scoring spurt to take a 51-45 lead into the final quarter of play. Senior guard Kentrell Washington led the way for the Chargers in the third quarter with seven points and finished with a team-high 21 points.
The Panthers, however, outscored the Chargers 25-13 in the fourth quarter in which they used a 22-6 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a seven-point advantage.
Palo Verde senior forward Jordyn Martin was second on the team in scoring with 14 points, including 10 coming in the second half.
“Jordyn is so important to our team,” Riley said. “He does so many things. He goes and gets rebounds that are out of his area. He comes up with deflections. We ask him to defend the point guard at times. We ask him to defend the five man. He does what we ask him to do.”
Palo Verde, which lost twice last week to drop to the No. 3 seed from the Northwest, will play top-seeded Centennial in the Sunset semifinals at 8 p.m. Thursday at Desert Oasis High. The schools are rivals in every sport, with Centennial sweeping two league games this year — including last Friday for the league title.
Centennial advanced to the regional semifinals with a 57-55 victory over Spring Valley Wednesday night in the playoff opener.