By Ossie Bladine • Editor • 

Down, but far from out

Marcus Larson/News-RegisterThe Dayton bench reacts during the Pirates’ 63-42 loss to Horizon Christian in Tuesday night’s Class 3A West Valley League game.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
The Dayton bench reacts during the Pirates’ 63-42 loss to Horizon Christian in Tuesday night’s Class 3A West Valley League game.

The Dayton boys basketball team had one last chance on Tuesday to get a statement win before the Class 3A West Valley League playoffs begin next week. But Horizon Christian shot that idea out the door. 

Horizon shot 48 percent from the line, including 9-of-19 from three, en route to a 63-42 victory. 

Dayton came out in a box-and-one in attempt to slow down point guard Trent Pihas - expected to be the league's player of the year. That led Hawks two-guard Connor Marleau to find a rhythm early and never cease. 

Marleau finished with a game-high 17 points on a perfect six of six from the field - five of those coming behind the arc. He added seven assists to the statline. 

"It opened a whole can of worms," Dayton coach Ron Hop said. "Those guys always seem to shoot well against us. Tonight, all the buckets seemed to go their way." 

Marleau hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the game.

Devin Nowlin kept the Pirates in it early, scoring his team's first seven points of the game. 

Dayton's best stretch was a 10-0 run in the second that tied the game at 25-25. The run was capped by a Zach Bernards three, off an offensive rebound by Tony Alvarez, and a pull-up three by Zach Spink. 

But Marleau answered with a three just before halftime to give the Hawks a three-point edge at the break.

Pihas hit two threes early in the third to build the lead to 37-27 quickly. Dayton kept the game within reach until its only senior, Corwin Hiatt, left the game with six minutes to go while lunging for a ball under the hoop and ramming his shoulder into the padded wall. Dayton was down 15 at the time, and losing their senior took away whatever wind was left in their sails.

Hiatt finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Nowlin also scored 11. 

Dayton shot just 32 percent in the game, making four of 18 3-pointers along the way.

Hop said the Hawk's experience allowed them to stay patient and find quality shots, while his younger squad often shot under duress. 

Dayton in third place

The Pirates took care of business Wednesday by beating Gervais, 74-62, on the road. 

Corwin Hiatt led the way with 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Hiatt shot 8 of 16 from the field and hit all three of his 3-point attempts.

Zach Spink finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Zach Bernards scored 13 points and Devin Nowlin 11, while Tony Alvarez nabbed 10 rebounds. 

Heading into the final league games Friday, Dayton is behind Amity and Horizon Christian in West Valley League play. 

Dayton played both teams tight in three of its four matches, but lost all three. The Pirate's only other loss was against Sheridan.

Dayton hosts Colton (6-7, 11-12). Westside Christian could tie the Pirates with a win Friday and a Dayton loss, but the Eagles have to play first-place Horizon Christian. 

Coach Ron Hop likened this year's team to one he coached about eight seasons ago, before Dayton became a powerhouse team. That year, the team finished third, but come playoff time handily beat a strong Valley Catholic team, and followed with an impressive win at Nyssa.  

Hop said his team is talented enough to find that late-season "lightning in a bottle," but it's tough with a sophomore-dominated squad.

"We're not that far away. I think it's more of a mental thing," he said after Tuesday's loss to Horizon. "You need that little bit of success to give you that confidence."

He said the pieces are there, but in small durations.

"We don't sustain it for the whole game," he said. "When we have breakdowns, then the attitude sometimes goes with it."


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