Quartz Hill takes Game 2 vs. Lancaster
LANCASTER — Typically sequels are inferior to the original.
This was not the case when Quartz Hill and Lancaster met in Round 2 of their Golden League battle.
This time the sequel lived up to all the hype and then some.
Just like the first game, the second game came down to the final shot in the waning seconds. And, like the original, the road team came away with the victory.
Lancaster’s Kerondo Dolberry missed a mid-range jump shot that rolled around the rim to preserve Quartz Hill’s thrilling 64-63 victory, Friday night at Lancaster High School.
“This one stings. It was a great game, but we knew we could have won. I have to give them props,” said Dolberry. “We could have worked harder. We didn’t realize how bad we wanted it until we were losing. We don’t feel like we’re a second-place team. We have to show (other teams) that we’re first place, but that will determine how we play the rest of the way.”
With the victory, the Rebels (11-5, 6-1) moved a ½-game in front of the Eagles (10-5, 6-2) atop the league standings. Quartz Hill still has a makeup game to play against Eastside. Those two teams will face each other twice over a six-day span.
The Rebels’ lone loss came against Lancaster in the opening game to start league, 64-61, at Quartz Hill High School. In that game, the Rebels had three opportunities to tie the game from 3-point range but failed. They shot a dismal 4-of-29 from beyond the arc on that Dec. 3 game and weren’t much better on Friday, shooting 5-of-22, but made the big one when they needed it.
“We were playing more not to lose in the second half. I told the guys to continue to be aggressive. We just kind of turned it off,” Quartz Hill head coach Bernard Nichter said. “But I have to give the guys credit. They find ways to win. It’s all about the players; it’s nothing I’m doing out there.”
The Rebels built a big halftime lead, 31-16, in which they held the Eagles without a field goal for a 10-½ minute stretch. Quartz Hill maintained a comfortable lead until the fourth quarter when things really got interesting.
The Rebels led 51-40 heading into the final eight minutes. Lancaster trimmed the lead to 55-51 following a steal and bucket by Kaelin Smith. Another basket by Smith later in the quarter cut the lead to 61-59 with 1:41 remaining.
The Eagles clawed all the way
back to tie the score following two free throws by Malcolm Hodges. Things really heated up with the score tied 61-61 as both teams committed turnovers.
Yeshua Brice netted a 3-pointer in the corner with just under a minute left to silence the crowd and give the Rebels a 64-61 lead. Lancaster’s Dylan Bryant was fouled with 49 seconds left and calmly hit two free throws to deflate the lead to one, 64-63.
“We played hard and it was all about defense tonight. The last time we played them we didn’t play good defense. We showed great determination and will tonight. Our defense was the key,” said Quartz Hill’s Alaijian Russell, who led the game with 21 points. “I believe we’re the best team in the league and tonight proves that. I’m proud of how composed we stayed.”
Brice missed a 3-pointer to put the Rebels up by four and the ball was rebounded by Dan Edwards who was fouled. Edwards missed both free throws and Brice was called for a push off on Hodges sending him back to the line with his team trailing by one.
Hodges missed both free throws and Brice was fouled with a chance to extend his team’s lead. However, he missed both free throws, giving the Eagles one final chance.
Following a timeout, Jordan Roach drove to the basket and Quartz Hill tied up the ball with the possession to the Eagles with 2.7 seconds. On the inbounds play, Dolberry said the play for Roach broke down so he stepped back, caught the ball and shot. The ball rolled around the rim and neither team could gain possession of the rebound as time expired.
“We battled tonight. I’m so proud of the guys. I’m proud of how we’ve come together this season,” Nichter said. “You have to give them (Lancaster) credit. I consider Jordan (Roach) the best player in the league. When you have the best player, you have a chance to win. That’s a good Lancaster team.”
Smith led Lancaster with 16 points and Roach finished with 15. Both were instrumental in helping the Eagles mount their comeback. Josiah Taylor finished with 12 points for the Rebels and teammates Cordarius Dixon and Brice added 11 and 10 respectively.
“We had a slow start. We could have beat them. To let something little like free throws beat us,” Smith said. “This one hurts because we gave away Golden League. We still have more opportunities, but if we’d won this game we would have had a higher chance at winning. We’ll get better from this. There is nowhere to go than up from here.”
The Eagles jumped out of the gates fast and led 9-2. That momentum was shortlived as the Rebels closed the first quarter with a 13-0 run to lead 15-9 after one.
LOOKING FOR OPENING Quartz Hill’s Alaijian Russell (23) looks to pass against Lancaster’s Avion Robinson (5) during Friday’s Golden League game.
1-ON-1 — Lancaster’s Jordan Roach, left, looks to get past Quartz Hill’s Josiah Taylor, right, on Friday.