For the second straight night, Hug senior Duke Williams played the hero role. On Friday, Williams ended Bishop Manogue’s season with a floater in the lane in the waning seconds.
He made a similar play Saturday. With the final seconds ticking off and the score knotted at 47-47, Hug’s athletic guard drove into the paint, elevated for a 12-foot jumper and got it to fall through the twine.
“He got practice yesterday,” Hug coach Brian Voyles quipped. “We ran our Memphis set where if you can drive, you drive and if you need to pass, you can kick it. He scared us a little bit. He could have gone a little sooner.”
The key bucket capped a low-scoring regional final and gives Hug a berth in the 4A State Tournament, which will be hosted at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas Thursday and Friday. Hug won’t know when its game time will be or who its opponent will be until after Monday night’s southern Nevada play-in game.
The regional championship is Hug’s first since 2002.
Reno (18-13), which had won two of the past three state large-school crowns, took a 30-26 lead on an Austin Morgan 3-pointer with 2:36 remaining in the third period.
Hug (19-8) responded by scoring six of the final eight points of the third period, deadlocking the contest at 32-32, heading into the final quarter.
The Hawks also scored the first five points of the fourth period, which wound up giving the Hawks an 11-2 burst, bridging the third and fourth quarters.
Courtney Gardner’s tipin concluded the run and gave Hug a 37-32 lead with 5:18 to go in the hoop clash. However, from there the Hawks failed to build on their advantage.
Hug’s lead was still five, 47-42, when Anthony Johnson canned a pair of foul shots, leaving 1:21 on the game clock.
Reno proceeded to pull into the 47-47 deadlock thanks to a Scott Challis 3-pointer at the 1:06 mark of the fourth quarter and two Austin Morgan free throws with 39.9 seconds remaining.
“Ultimately, Hug’s a very good team with very good athletes,” fourth-year Reno coach Kyle Schellin said. “They are quick and athletic and hard to deal with. It wasn’t our night. We missed some chippies and turned the ball over.”
Morgan carried the Huskies offensively. He scored 31 of Reno’s 47 points in the championship defeat. Challis chipped in nine points for Reno but only three other Huskies found the scoring column and none of that trio had more than three points.
Williams and Johnson both scored 12 points to lead Hug’s offense. Gardner added 10 for HHS.
From an offensive standpoint, the game was a far cry from Hug’s 73-70 win or even Reno’s 64-59 OT triumph over Spanish Springs Friday.
I would have been surprised if it was a 70-70 type of game,” Hug coach Brian Voyles said. “Every possession was just so meaningful. I didn’t expect it to be a high-scoring affair.”
Schellin had similar sentiments.
“Last night took a lot out of us and I think their game took a lot out of them,” Schellin said. “There were four good teams in the semifinals. It was a situation where you hoped the kids would come out and play to their potential. I didn’t do a good job substituting and maybe our guys got a little tired.”
Hug’s offense was nearly non-existent early. The Hawks managed just two points through the first 7:48 of the first quarter. The good news for Hawks fans was they trailed by just four, 6-2. Williams made a spinning jumper with 12 seconds left in the initial period, making the scoreboard read 6-4 after the first eight minutes.
That Williams bucket to end the first quarter kickstarted a 13-2 Hug explosion. Johnson buried a trey in the corner, ending the run that saw the Hawks forge ahead 15-8 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.
Reno answered with 11 unanswered points of its own over the next four minutes. Hug scored six of the final eight points in the last minute before the intermission and the league rivals went into the locker room tied at 21.