The energy Friday night at Antelope High School resembled that of a March Madness game, with deafening cheers and jeers during a second round Division II showdown between Bella Vista’s fifth-seeded boys varsity basketball team and the fourth-seeded Antelope Titans. At the end of the game, the gym erupted in celebration, but unfortunately it was not for the Broncos as its postseason run ended losing to the Titans, 55-46.
Antelope led throughout the game, but Bella Vista continued to keep the score close. Crucial missed shots and free throws eventually worked against the Broncos and contributed to their loss.
Bella Vista's younger talent put up healthy numbers, including sophomores Ahmad Smith and Adam Ciskewski. Smith led the team with 18 points while Ciskewski scored 13.
The Broncos and their fans were visibly disappointed in their loss, but what was most upsetting for Bella Vista was a controversial foul call on senior Terry Jackson that changed the pace of the game.
As Jackson and Bella Vista head coach Dave Gonzalez tried to argue against the call, Jackson received a technical foul. The entire side of the gym filled with Bella Vista fans erupted in boos and jeers after the calls. Jackson said after the game that he would not have preferred to end his senior season in that fashion but is still proud of his team.
“This is not the way I wanted to go out, but we have a young team and we made it further than everybody thought we would,” Jackson said. “I’m proud of the team in that aspect.”
Gonzalez said that frustration toward the end of the game eventually got the best of the team but still felt that his players put forth great effort throughout the game.
“We did lose our cool a little bit toward the end, but I think we were just frustrated and had some calls that didn’t go our way, but you just have to play through that stuff and we’ve done that all year,” Gonzalez said. “My guys played hard for us and that’s all we can ask for.”
Gonzalez credited the Titans, acknowledging the challenge of playing on the road.
“It was a rough environment, their (Antelope’s) crowd really brought it to us,” Gonzalez said. “Their team was ready for us and I thought we kept battling. We just couldn’t get over the hump. They’re a good team, they’re league champions for a reason.”
There are only two seniors on the roster this year and with this season’s young roster, Gonzalez said this game and this postseason can be a great learning experience for them.
“I told my guys after the game that Wednesday’s win was a positive and today can be a positive too,” Gonzalez said. “If you can remember this and it drives you through next year and motivates you to get back to this game, that can be a plus, but if you’re mad about it, then it will work against you, so hopefully we’ll use this loss the right way as motivation.”
“Hopefully we can fill in some pieces, get better and come back here next year.”
Jackson expressed his hope for the team and future seasons to come.
“We’ve had a great season this year and hopefully the team can go really far next year,” Jackson said.
Like every team ending their seasons, the Broncos will face the sad circumstance that some of them will not play basketball with each other anymore.
“We had a long season and when it comes to an end, it’s sad because they put a lot of effort into it. As a coach you get attached to every team in a different way,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez told his team however to focus on the big picture and remember the accomplishments made this season.
“I told my boys to focus on the big picture that we had a great season,” Gonzalez said. “We won league and no one can take that from us and we won our first playoff game and they can’t take that from us either.
“This is not the way we wanted to end it, but I was real happy with this group of boys.”