Comeback kids: Dinos rally in final minutes for win
Down by 12 to Spanish Fork late in the third quarter, the Carbon High boys basketball team was staring down a third straight loss and an 0-2 start to Region 12 play. They needed a spark. Something to get them going.
Fueled by a raucous home crowd, CHS overcame their early game mistakes and did the little things including boxing out for rebounds, making free throws and improvising on the run as they pulled away in the second half for a 67-58 victory on Friday night at the CHS gymnasium.
After falling to rival Emery High and losing their first Region 12 game to Payson last week, the Dinos were in need of some good fortune. It took three quarters of hanging around with Spanish Fork before the Dinos finally broke through and reversed their bad luck from over the last week.
"The loss at Emery gave us a boost because we let that game get away from us," said CHS head coach Jeff Cisneros. "That game showed us we need to play hard in every game on offense and defense."
Through the first half, the Dinos and Spanish Fork traded shots back and forth before the Dinos were able to open up an eight point lead. However Spanish Fork, led by Clay Banks and Hayden Nielsen, closed the gap and went into halftime with a 31-28 lead thanks to 16 points from Banks in the first half.
Things did not look up for the Dinos to start the third quarter. Spanish Fork went on an 11-0 run to build their largest lead of the night at 14 points. With the Dinos racking up turnovers on consecutive possessions, Cisneros called a timeout. He implored his team to eliminate the mistakes and attack their defense by driving to the basket.
"I told them to slow down and work on getting defensive stops," he explained after the game.
The talk worked as the Dinos cut the Spanish Fork lead down to five late in the third quarter. However, Neilsen for Spanish Fork hit a three -pointer at the buzzer to give the Dons a 48-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter the Dinos began chipping away at the lead pulling within a few points before Spanish Fork would answer back with a basket. But as the time on the game clock continued to whittle down, the Dinos started to catch fire. Juniors Dakota Cisneros, Jordan Blanc and Derek Young drove to the basket through the Spanish Fork defense for baskets to close the gap. Senior forward Daulton Nelson made one of the biggest plays of the night as he grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and converted a basket and a free throw to bring the Dinos closer.
Nelson said he knows he won't score a lot of points in a game, but is willing to do what is necessary to help get the team a win.
"I know I'm not going to score a lot of points," said Nelson, who finished with three points. "I'll do whatever I need to do to help out the team."
Senior Clay Finkbiner also made his presence on the floor felt as he hit a big three-point shot to give the Dinos a two point lead. A few plays later, Finkbiner stole the ball from a Spanish Fork player but was about to step out of bounds. He instinctively threw the ball off a Spanish Fork who was laying on the floor next to him. The possession went to the Dinos who promptly went down the floor and scored to take a 60-56 lead with 1:30 left.
"That was a smart play to throw the ball off the defender," said Dakota Cisneros. "It was really big for us."
The Dinos were never threatened again as a Dakota Cisneros steal led to a basket and a foul which brought out the loudest reaction from the home town crowd. By the end of the quarter the Dinos outscored their opponents 26-10 on their way to the first Region 12 win this season.
"A lot of guys stepped up for us tonight and brought a lot of energy on defense," said Dakota Cisneros. "We just need to calm down, be under control and run our plays."
Finkbiner led all Carbon High players with 13 points. Senior Tanner Gagnon added 10 points. Cisneros (11 points, 11 assists) and Young (11 points, 14 rebounds) each finished with a double-double for the Dinos.
Banks led Spanish Fork (6-6, 1-1 Region 12) with 22 points. Nielsen added 21 for the Dons.
The win was huge for the Dinos not only because they stopped a two-game losing streak, but they also held court at home. Winning home games will be a key to the team's success this season, said Jeff Cisneros.
"We can't afford to lose home region games," he said. "Tonight everyone did the little things and got stops on defense down the stretch to help us get a win."
The Dinos (8-4, 1-1 Region 12) will next travel to Juab for another Region 12 matchup on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Dinos know each game in region play will be a tough affair no matter if the game is at home or on the road.
"We're going to be facing a lot of scrappy teams in the league from now on," said Dakota Cisneros. "If we continue to play together, we can be a really tough team."