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Tivy boys stumble against Champion, 52-46

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Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 9:08 pm

BOERNE — Josh Vela groaned with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter.

The Tivy senior point guard had just witnessed the Antlers’ leading scorer, Abraham Vierra, pick up his third foul against Boerne Champion, meaning that one of the best players in District 26-5A was going to have to spend the majority of the game as a spectator. Vela wondered how he and his teammates were going to react to Vierra’s absence.

“Someone is going to have to step up and score some points for us and play good defense,” Vela thought at the time.

The Antlers never wilted against the Chargers. But ultimately, they couldn’t overcome Vierra’s foul trouble, falling to Champion, 52-46, on Wednesday afternoon in Boerne.

Vela led the Antlers (17-6, 3-2 District 26-5A) with 14 points. Vierra contributed 10 points despite spending long stretches of the game on the bench. Senior Joseph Love added six points, while Christian Gorham and Brooks McCoy each chipped in four points.

Even with Vierra hampered with foul trouble, and even with sharp-shooter Jackson Young struggling to knock down shots from the outside, the Antlers still remained within striking distance, trailing Champion, 15-14, midway through the second quarter.

But a flurry of Tivy turnovers allowed the Chargers to close the first half on a 11-0 run. The Antlers never recovered from that lull.

“We beat ourselves,” Tivy coach Brian Young said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Boerne Champion — they are a good team. But today, we beat us. We don’t typically do that. It wasn’t anything special that they did, we did most of the damage ourselves.

“Hats off to them, they played a great basketball game.”

The Antlers, meanwhile, had been playing plenty of great basketball themselves. They entered Wednesday game on a five-game winning streak, overwhelming opponents with a bruising style of basketball. They prefer to run their offense through Vierra, who torments defenders in the post. Tivy’s guards operate with patience, coolly waiting for an open shot on the perimeter or for the perfect opportunity to lob an entry pass to Vierra.

But on Wednesday, they encountered a team familiar with their strengths

Champion had a plan to frustrate Tivy’s offensive, and it worked. The Chargers ran a zone defense the entire game, which enabled them to collapse on Vierra every time he touched the ball and smother Jackson Young and Love on the perimeter. Essentially, they dared other Tivy players to shoot.

Offensively, Champion relied on senior guard Nathan Ghavidel, who averaged 24.3 points per game. He finished with a game-high 21 points against Tivy. He buried seven consecutive points toward the end of the second quarter, extending Champion’s lead to 24-14. Every time the Antlers threatened to come back in the second half, Ghavidel responded with a basket or an assist.

Still, the Antlers rallied in the fourth quarter. Trailing 52-39, Vela lobbed a pass to a cutting Young for a layup. Vierra then knocked down two free throws to slice the deficit to single digits, and Vela then drained a 3-pointer in the corner to bring Tivy within two possessions with 41.6 seconds left.

The Antlers then forced a five-second violation with 28.7 seconds remaining, but Love’s ensuing 3-pointer fell short and Champion escaped with a win. Tivy will look to rebound on Friday against Harlandale

“During the last eight to 10 minutes of the game, we picked up our intensity and we made things happen,” Brian Young said. “We gave ourselves a chance. The good thing is that we get to play them at home.”

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