Nunes analyzes his shot, comes up with answer for Cougars

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 16, 2013 

Dusty Nunes was struggling through a shooting slump.

It wasn't until the Golden Valley senior went back and watched some video that he noticed he wasn't finishing his shots.

Nunes broke out of his slump in a big way on Wednesday night as he drained five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points to help lead the Cougars to a 66-56 win over Buhach Colony.

"I watched some film of when I was shooting it good," Nunes said. "I figured out I wasn't releasing it right. I had crocodile arms. I started working on it and it felt good."

Nunes started hot and never cooled off. He hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help the Cougars (3-0 Central California Conference, 16-4 overall) get off to quick start.

In crunch time, it was Nunes who sank a 3-pointer that broke a 50-all tie with 5:29 left in the game.

"Dusty is a smart kid," Golden Valley coach Keith Hunter said. "I love a guy who analyzes his game. Dusty is a thinker. He's always asking me as a coach what he can do.

"Our players have access to all our games online, so it's good to see he's taking advantage of that."

The matchup was billed as a showdown between two of the top contenders in the CCC and neither team disappointed.

Golden Valley came out firing from long range, making five 3-pointers in the first quarter to jump out to a 21-12 lead.

The Thunder answered right back as Joe Marquez and Stephen Hillyer started knocking down shots. Hillyer scored eight of his 11 points in the second quarter and Marquez scored all 13 of his points in the first half to help the Thunder (1-2, 13-7) take a 34-32 lead into intermission.

"I thought we played great in the first half. I was little concerned we played that well and we were still down by two at halftime," Hunter said.

Golden Valley big man Josh Sykes made a big impact on the game.

The 6-foot-6 junior blocked four shots, many in emphatic fashion, and that played a role in the second half. When the Thunder players got in the lane they were either looking for Sykes or changing their shots. He finished with eight points and eight rebounds.

"He was phenomenal," Hunter said. "He was really a game-changer in there. What I loved was those last three or four minutes, every rebound was his. You love to see that as a coach."

Neither team led by more than four points during the third quarter as the game went back and forth.

The teams put on a show as Christian Carroll drained a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 48-46 lead with 6 seconds left in the third quarter.

However, Hillyer answered with a three of his own from 22 feet away at the buzzer to send Buhach Colony into the fourth quarter with a 49-48 lead.

Golden Valley finally grabbed control of the game midway through the fourth quarter.

With the game tied at 50-all, Nunes came right off the bench and hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game.

"My shot felt good in warm-ups," Nunes said. "I was just letting it go and not thinking about it. It helped me just focus on my defensive assignment."

Evan Stillahn followed with back-to-back baskets and Christian Carroll made a pair of free throws to give the Cougars a 59-50 lead with 2:36 left in the game.

Stillahn finished with 20 points and Carroll added 12 points.

"I thought we were resilient tonight," Hunter said. "We made shots in the fourth quarter and (Buhach Colony) didn't make many.

"What I liked it after we stretched the lead, we had maybe one possession where we took a quick shot. After that, we took the 35 seconds off the clock. We couldn't do that back in December. We're managing the game better."

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