Bittersweet feeling: Dino miscues let North Sanpete walk away with region win
With just two seconds remaining in the game against North Sanpete, Carbon High's Jordan Blanc took the inbounds pass and heaved a desperation three-quarters court shot. As the buzzer went off, Blanc's shot continued spiraling threw the air for what seemed like an eternity with the eyes of everyone in the gym following closely before ultimately hitting nothing but net.
As the crowd gasped in wonder, instead of celebrating the special occasion, Blanc could only slap his hands and yell out loud in frustration as he and the rest of the Dinos were left wondering what could have been as they fell to North Sanpete 57-56 on Friday night.
As expected with every game in Region 12 play, Carbon and North Sanpete battled back and forth all game long, alternating leads down to the final minutes.
With over a minute left in the game and down by 2, Carbon held onto the ball, passing it around the half court line, hoping to let the clock wind down to get the final shot in regulation or head into overtime.
The strategy worked, for awhile. With 33.9 seconds left, North Sanpete's Rhett Bird stole the ball but the Hawks were unable to add onto their lead. Again the Dinos were presented with another opportunity to go for the winning shot. Senior Clay Finkbiner fired a three-point shot that bounced off the rim and fellow teammate Tanner Gagnon, who made a shot off an earlier Finkbiner three-point attempt, grabbed the rebound but was unable to convert an attempt down in the paint. With 7.7 seconds left, the Dinos ran another play but the pass to Gagnon went through his hands as the Dinos were forced to foul with 3.3 seconds left.
North Sanpete's Jake Bailey calmly converted his two free throws essentially icing the game and negated Blanc's shot moments later from making a difference in the result.
For Carbon, who continued to battle back after being down by eight at the half, the game was decided at the free throw line. Carbon finished the game 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) compared to North Sanpete's 15-of-20 (75 percent).
"The missed free throws killed us in the end," said Carbon High head coach Jeff Cisneros after the game. "We shoot them everyday in practice. The guys are told by everyone around them including their parents, friends and other people in the community that free throws are important. They know how important making free throws are."
Cisneros said the end result of the game may have been due to a tough week of practice for the team, which he described as "effortless" and "lazy".
"This is what can happen when you don't show up and work hard every day in practice," he explained.
Battling against a region team with much more size in the post, Carbon did not allow that to be much of a factor as they were able to hold their own in rebounding and getting shot opportunities down in the paint.
Carbon tied the game at 33-33 early in the third quarter thanks to a made shot off a rebound by Gagnon down in the post. They would extend the lead to 37-33 on a layup by Finkbiner off an assist from Dakota Cisneros. North Sanpete was able to bounce back and gain the lead 44-43 heading into the final quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Carbon's Taje Richardson drained a three-point attempt to give them the lead back 48-46 but North Sanpete's Colton Dunn quickly gave the Hawks the 49-48 lead on a basket and a foul.
After trading baskets and free throws, Gagnon gave Carbon a 53-52 lead late in the fourth off a rebound of a missed Finkbiner three-point shot but again North Sanpete answered back to take the lead. Carbon's Blanc missed two free throws with a chance to give the Dinos the lead back with two minutes left.
Blanc led the Dinos (9-5, 2-2 Region 12) with 19 points and seven rebounds. Gagnon added 13 points and Finkbiner finished with eight, including two three-pointers.
For North Sanpete (5-9, 1-3 Region 12), it was a balanced scoring effort as Dunn finished with 14. Bailey had 13, Rashaud Barton chipped in 12 and Russell Lewis had nine points.
The Carbon High Dinos, currently in a tie for third place in the region, will travel to Delta on Wednesday night for another region game at 7 p.m.
Carbon is expecting no let up for any region games as wins at home are essential to each team's success as well as trying to steal a game or two on the road, Cisneros said.
"We expect to play tough games every night for the rest of the season," said Jeff Cisneros. "Every game will be like this, down to the wire."