By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Piner overcame a 34-point effort by Elsie Allen’s Angel Sanchez and edged the visiting Lobos, 68-66, in an SCL battle Wednesday night.
The game was close all the way, especially in the fourth quarter. A three-point play by Sanchez with 1:30 remaining knotted the game at 63. The Prospectors then came down the court and took the lead for good when Keith Adams drained a 3-point shot from the corner at the 55-second mark.
Sanchez made one of two free throws to narrow the lead to two, but a layup by Marquise Camp with 23 seconds left gave Piner breathing room. Elsie Allen’s Adan Arguerta scored in the final seconds.
Sanchez scored 20 points after intermission. Most of those came well out from the basket.
“The kid (Sanchez) put on a show,” Piner coach Mike Erickson said. “It was an impressive shooting performance.”
Elsie Allen coach Madison Lott also spoke in superlatives about the 6-foot senior.
“He’s improved so much as the season has progressed,” Lott said. “He’s a very good shooter and in my opinion, he’s one of the top five players in the SCL.”
Camp led Piner with 21 points, eight of those coming on layups in the fourth quarter.
“Each time I dribbled across half court and didn’t have a defender in front of me,” the guard said. “I saw the opening and just took it to the basket.”
The Prospectors weren’t at full strength for the game. Natu Hezchias, who is usually the team’s top scorer, was weakened by the flu and played sparingly. He only contributed three points. Adonay Efriem, a top reserve, was too sick to play.
Both teams shot the ball well, especially from behind the 3-point line. Piner made 9-of-16 treys while the Lobos connected on 9-of-17.
Overall, the Prospectors made 26-of-51 from the field while Elsie Allen connected on 22-of-48 shots.
The Lobos led 16-15 after one quarter while Piner clung to a 34-32 advantage at halftime.
The Prospectors opened the third quarter with an 8-2 run, but Elsie Allen charged back to take a 44-42 lead with 4:30 left in the period.
From that point, the largest lead by either team was five by Piner with 5:22 remaining.
The Prospectors, who have won five of six, had four players score in double figures. Supporting Camp’s 21 were Keith Adams with 12 and Isiah Carter and Rakan Dehmes with 10 apiece.
For Elsie Allen, Joe Hoeup had 17. The sophomore drained five shots from beyond the arc.
The Lobos are a young team that has matured. Sanchez is the only senior seeing significant playing time.
“The program is coming in the right direction,” Lott said. “As a team, these kids have improved so much. We also have promising players coming along at the junior varsity level.
“Piner is one of the top teams in the SCL and we went toe-to-toe with them and didn’t once lose our composure. That’s exciting.”