Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer start 2014 off with a look around the valley's high school basketball scene. They discuss the loaded Northeast division, Centennial's hot start and Bishop Gorman's three-peat prospects.
The Las Vegas High basketball team started no seniors Tuesday in its Northeast League opener at Green Valley.
But their underclassmen weren’t intimidated, continuing to progress ahead of schedule in a 74-59 victory.
With three college recruits in the junior class leading the charge, including four-star prospect Ray Smith on the wing, the Wildcats were hoping to gain enough experience in the regular season to peak during the playoffs. If not, they would be one of the favorites next season.
But if Tuesday was any indication, Las Vegas (13-2, 1-0 Northeast) is built to make some noise this year.
“Every team tries to (push us around) because we are young,” Smith said. “To me, age doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about level of maturity. We are a young team, but we are coming out of fire. We are coming out looking for somebody.”
Winning at Green Valley is no easy task because its rowdy student section creates one of the only true home-court advantages in Southern Nevada.
But the Wildcats pulled away in the fourth quarter, using their athleticism to create multiple turnovers and easy points. Smith led all scorers with 29 points, including five uncontested dunks in transition in the second half.
“This starts us off on the right foot. We are 1-0 in conference and that is the goal, to win conference games,” Las Vegas coach Jason Wilson said. “We know this is a tough place to come play. Those kids are scrappy. The play their hearts out and don’t quit.”
One of the big questions entering the season for Las Vegas was how quickly a group of new players would mesh.
Junior Patrick Savoy Jr. transferred in from Chaparral and sophomore post Tyler Bey was in his first varsity season. Smith, with scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, San Diego State and UNLV, was expected to be the team leader and one of the city’s top players.
But he couldn’t do it alone. That’s what makes Tuesday’s win so impressive — it was more than Smith.
While Smith led them in scoring, junior point guard Devon Colley finished with 14 points and took control in dictating the pace of the game. Savoy scored 15 points and hit a pair of second-half 3-pointers. Bey had 11 points and didn’t back down against Green Valley’s big and physical center, 6-foot-7, 295 pound Tyrell Crosby — a top football prospect headed to Oregon who looks for contact underneath each time he touches the ball.
“We are sticking together and not worrying about what everyone says about us being young,” Colley said. “We are playing one game at a time, basically.”
Las Vegas led 55-51 with less than five minutes remaining, before going on a 13-2 scoring run to put the game out of reach. The outburst featured a little of everything — dunks from Smith, a 3-pointer from Savoy, a nifty pass from Colley to set up an easy basket for Smith and Bey with a basket in transition.
For a two-minute stretch, Las Vegas appeared to be the best team in the Sunrise Region. Not bad for a team that receives few contributions from its senior class.
“With all of the new guys I thought it would take a little bit longer,” Wilson said of the progression. “Obviously, we have some talented kids on the team. That’s making it easier on us.”
Crosby led Green Valley with 18 points and Troy Cooper finished with 13.