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Hall senior Austin Schmitt (No. 22) draws a blocking foul on Orion’s Christian Allen late in the fourth quarter. The forward scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in Wednesday’s 65-64 victory. NewsTribune photo/ Scott Anderson
Senior point guard Taggart Venegas’ agenda was to distribute the ball for the Hall boy’s basketball team against Orion on Wednesday in Spring Valley.
Throughout the Three Rivers Conference South Division game he did exactly what he set out to do and had a game-high three assists, while only attempting one shot until the end of the contest.
Thanks to losing sight of the clock, he went against his main focus and made the decision to hoist a shot a step in from the 3-point line in the corner.
His quick decision, although not planned, turned out to be the winning one as the ball sank through the net with two seconds remaining on the clock for a 65-64 Red Devil win.
“Actually, I didn’t have my internal clock. I lost track of time,” Venegas said of his only two points against Orion. “Coach (Mike) Filippini had told us, ‘Spread them out, get to the basket,’ so I just kind of lost track of time and thought there was less time than there actually was. I put it up and luckily it went in.
“Of course it felt good. I didn’t shoot the whole game, I was looking to pass to everybody else. I think my role as a point guard is to create and try to get buckets for the other players.”
The Chargers held the lead from the six minute mark in the first quarter and at one time led Hall by 12 points.
Junior A.J. Gaeta took the lead back for Hall (9-7, 1-2 TRC South) with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter on his third 3-pointer of the game when senior Zach Urbanski found him with a pass just to the right of the top of the arc.
The two squads battled back and forth exchanging clutch free throws and timely interior passes as well as defensive pressure on the ball until Orion’s Payton Diamond drilled four free throws on two trips to the charity stripe in consecutive possessions for a 62-60 Orion lead with 38.2 seconds left.
Not to have Hall outdone, Miguel Villarreal pulled Hall ahead 63-62 with a long 3-ball.
“We definitely showed some resilience,” Venegas said. “We didn’t have the best first half, but in the second half we came out better. We were able to run a little more, got some rebounds and we showed up at the late part of the game.”
With only 30 seconds left, the Chargers’ Noah Clarke cruised through the paint and drew a foul as his floater went through the net for a chance at the three-point play. Clarke missed the free throw and Hall grabbed the rebound.
Down 64-63 with 11.4 seconds left, Hall rushed to the other side of the floor. Villarreal, who scored a game-high 22 points, didn’t have an open shot and didn’t have the time to take it to the hoop. He went with the option to pass to Venegas, who was set up in the corner ready for the incoming pass.
“I told the kids ‘The way you played in the first half, you deserved to lose and the way you played in the second half, you deserved to win’,” Filippini said. “Whether they would have made a miracle, last shot or something, (Hall) deserved to win because they outplayed them in the second half.”
Hall started the game on an 8-0 run as Villarreal took it to the hoop and senior Ian Trevier and Gaeta hit a 3-point shot apiece.
The Orion offense then went into blow out prevention mode and worked its way back into the ball game as Hall lead 17-14 after the first quarter.
In a game of runs, another one was witnessed at the start of the second quarter in the Chargers’ favor instead of the Red Devils as Orion (3-11, 0-3 TRC South) outscored Hall 9-0 in the first four minutes of the quarter and 15-2 with two minutes remaining.
Filippini thought his team would have played better if they would have had practices, but because of the weekend and winter storms cancelling school Monday and Tuesday, the Red Devils hadn’t played basketball in four days.
“I think we were a little rusty,” Filippini said. “We gave them a stern talking to at halftime, threw some stuff in the locker room and it seemed to get them going. I don’t know if that stuff works but it seemed to work tonight because we came out in the second half and played a lot better.”
In an act to defend their battered locker room, the Red Devils chased down the 33-25 halftime deficit by opening the second half with an 8-2 run.
Gaeta, who scored 13 points for the Red Devils, hit his second of the game’s three 3-point baskets and Villarreal continued to take it to the hoop in the third quarter’s comeback attempt.
In a tempo and momentum changing play, Junior Grant Hill grabbed a defensive rebound and dashed to the other end of the court to find Villarreal slashing on the weak side. Hill connected with Villarreal for an easy layup to cut the Orion lead to 42-37.
“Rebounding is always big,” Villarreal said. “What we wanted to do was secure the board, turn, look and run. When we’re bouncing around not getting the rebound it slows us down. We’re a team that likes to run, so the more rebounds we got, we got into a flow, a rhythm and it was huge.”
The Hall offense didn’t work on it’s own in the journey to cut the Charger lead as the defense hounded Orion every time it in-bounded the ball.
“I think Hall did a nice job in the second half,” Chargers’ coach Brent Hutton said. “They came out and they extended the pressure a little bit. They got some pressure on the basketball. We just didn’t do well enough of taking care of the basketball. Its been kind of our nemesis…we get some pressure on us and we just make some really bad decisions with the ball.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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