Lake Havasu boys basketball vs. Yuma

Lake Havasu guard Brenton Szymanski gets contested in the paint while attempting a layup during the second quarter of a non-regional game against Yuma at Lake Havasu High School on Friday.

The Lake Havasu boys basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 29-point victory on Friday.

The Knights defeated the Yuma Criminals 63-34 at home with a well-balanced team effort. Ten different Knights scored with Junior Bolden (13 points) and Brenton Szymanski (12) getting in double figures.

It was a rebound performance for Havasu after faltering in the second half against Parker on Tuesday. After a 27-27 halftime tie, the Knights fell 65-53 to the Broncs. Friday’s win matches the Knights win total from last season (2-11).

“It was one of those games where we shot 13% when it wasn’t a layup,” Knights coach Tanner Kelly said about the Parker loss. “You don’t win many games that way so we talked and discussed all the positives we did and we had a few shooting practices to fix some things. We worked on teamwork and bonding and the guys really had great leadership and really came together as a team this week.”

After the Criminals led 5-4 early in the first quarter, the Knights went on a 10-0 run to end the quarter. The Knights didn’t trail for the rest of the night.

Havasu continued its momentum in the second, extending its lead as far as 15 points and taking a 31-16 lead at halftime.

Bolden had the most memorable play of the night at the end of the half. The senior forward made a half-court buzzer beater to extend the Knights’ lead to 15 points. Bolden took a pass from Szymanski and shot a perfect arc near the logo.

“Talk about a shot,” Szymanski said. “Everybody dreams of a buzzer beater half-court shot. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of the first quarter or the second quarter — it doesn’t matter. Just a buzzer beater half-court shot, everybody dreams about that.”

Once Bolden’s buzzer beater went in, the home crowd and the entire Knights bench was hyped up.

“Honestly, I thought that was a bank shot,” Bolden said. “I was like, ‘That’s probably going in,’ and then I was like, ‘That’s not going in.’ Then it went in, and I was like, ‘Oh!’”

The Knights controlled the rest of the game, leading 51-30 at the end of the third quarter and extending their lead to at least 30 midway in the fourth. Once the score was 62-32 in Havasu’s favor, a running clock was implemented for the game’s final four minutes. Kelly gave some guys rest and played his reserves during the game’s final two minutes.

“Today, we had that mentality to not let up and to not get too cocky,” Szymanski said.

Other top scorers for the Knights were Ashton Beyers and Luke Zegers, who each had nine points. Zegers had a team-high six rebounds and Bolden was first on the team with five assists. Bolden also had four rebounds. Szymanski was a presence on defense with four steals - a team high. 

As a team, the Knights had 36 rebounds, 15 steals and 12 assists, but had 22 turnovers. 

Reggie Antone and Julian Goldsborough each scored eight points for the Criminals and were Yuma’s two top scorers.

At the end of the game, the program had their first “Layups with the Knights” event, which allows kids from kindergarten to sixth grade to meet the players and shoot layups with the team. The team circled around the kids near the hoop and showed enthusiasm when each child shot a basket.

Kelly said the plan for “Layups with the Knights” is to become a tradition after every home game. The first 20 elementary age students to sign up at the entrance of every home game will be able to participate.

“These groups of boys and girls out here are the next generation of Havasu basketball,” Kelly said. “The guys are having fun out here doing this. We’re just going to keep getting the word out for the next home game and allow these memories for these kids because they’re going to look up to these guys for years to come.”

Up next

Havasu (2-1) heads to Bullhead City on Tuesday to take on rival Mohave (0-5) on Tuesday, Dec. 14. In the last year’s rivalry meeting, the Thunderbirds bested the Knights 46-45 at Lake Havasu High.

“Everybody has to be locked in,” Bolden said.

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Jeremiah Martinez is a California native and a graduate of Sacramento State University. He covers sports and recreation for the Today's News-Herald. You may reach Jeremiah at jmartinez@havasunews.com and you could follow him on Twitter @TheJerryMartin.

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