Pirates, Warriors renew old rivalry
Dayton (10-5, 6-1) pulled ahead in the fourth quarter of Friday’s tense matchup, and won the game 62-50, but the final score wasn’t indicative of the even play of both teams.
“Coaches got them playing at a high level,” Dayton coach Ron Hop said. “They did a heck of a job on the defensive end, and we didn’t defend well in the first half and they took advantage of that.”
The Pirates defended well in the first quarter, and they allowed Amity (11-6, 4-3) one rebound for the quarter. Because of the effort, Dayton won the quarter 12-7.
With 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining in the first, both teams reminded all in attendance that Dayton may lead the rivalry 15-1 since 2005, but the intensity to beat one another is still there.
After a Nathan Bernards make, Pirates’ guard Zak Hedgecock and Amity big man Taylor Miles came together and words were exchanged which resulted in a double-technical foul call from officials.
“That was just a situation where the game was close,” Hop said. “And both players are passionate about the game, and both players and teams wanted to beat the other.”
When the second quarter began, both teams were charged from the heated moment. Amity went on a 13-7 run and seized its first lead at 20-19.
Dayton had another reason to be excited: Its big man, Corwin Hiatt, returned after leaving the team for personal reasons. His impact was felt immediately.
Hiatt gave Dayton a much-needed presence inside against a Warrior team that has an abundance of post players. Hiatt finished the game with 27 points and 14 rebounds.
“It’s pretty cool to have him back,” Bernards said of his teammates return. “I’d say it’s a relief rebounding-wise. We have a lot of shorter guys and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had double-digit rebounds tonight. He takes a load off some of the guys, and it’s really nice to have him back.”
For Hiatt, he was just looking to get back into the flow of the offense, and fit in however he could.
“I don’t even remember a lot,” Hiatt said. “The energy was awesome, and I love this crowd. My players are just awesome. I don’t know, they just know what to do, and I just had to go with the flow. I was just there to pick up the garbage opportunities.”
Even with Hiatt back, Amity wasn’t prepared to go down easily. Coming out of halftime, .it trailed 24-22, and it amped its 1-3-1 defense and matched the Pirates motion offense.
The Warriors saw two results: They forced 20 Dayton turnovers, and took control of the game led by an unexpected leader.
Lance Nelson, a freshman, led the Amity comeback in the second half. Nelson finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and two steals.
With Nelson rising to the occasion, the Warriors took a 33-31 lead midway through the third with a Nelson 3-pointer, and grew that lead to their largest of the game at 40-33.
The 1-3-1 defense was stopping Dayton dead in its tracks.
“We have the top ranked defense and it showed tonight,” Amity coach Justin Amaya said. “We caused a lot of turnovers and Dayton mistakes. Our defense takes a lot of hard work and good effort.”
The effort gave the Warriors a 40-38 lead after three quarters, and they continued to thrive early in the fourth gaining a 48-43 lead forcing a Pirates timeout.
Nelson didn’t do it alone. Junior Brett Hilt helped with 15 points, two rebounds and a steal, while Zach Wilson had 10 points.
Dayton came out of the timeout on a mission and caught the Warriors at 48-48 and Bernards and Justin Sutton led the charge.
“I told them they had to stop playing on their heels,” Hop said. “I said if they were going to continue to play that way, I’d find guys on the bench who won’t.”
After the timeout, the Pirates responded in the final four minutes with a 12-2 run. Dayton got the ball back with 50 seconds remaining and a 60-50 lead. Jared White found Sutton open for a 3-pointer on the left wing and converted a near-perfect pass.
With Amity in the 1-3-1, four Warrior defenders charged for Sutton, which left the key wide open. When Sutton released the shot, an open Bernards charged from the right wing for a rebound, and he got more than a rebound.
Sutton’s shot hit off the right side of the hoop, a perfect position for Bernards. With one defender in the area, Bernards used all of his six feet and jumped for the rebound, caught the ball, and threw it down for a dunk sending the home crowd to a roar.
The win puts Dayton firmly in second place in the West Valley League. Dayton plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sheridan, while Amity looks to rebound at 7:30 p.m. today vs. Willamina.
“We can’t lose the ball like that again,” Bernards said. “I know we lost our cool at times. We have to cut back on turnovers, and if we can play defense like we did tonight, we’ll be fine.”