For a while, the Virginia City boys might have wished they were somewhere else.
And in the first half, they played like they were.
But the Muckers got back on track in the second and clamped down on defense in taking a 64-58 win over Jackpot in the Division IV North championship at North Valleys.
Both teams advance to this week's state tournament in Las Vegas. With that pressure already off, Virginia City came out unfocused as the Jaguars led 18-7 after one quarter, and 32-19 at halftime.
The Muckers committed 17 turnovers in the first half and 12 in the second. Their full-court pressure finally wilted the Jaguars as they had trouble getting the ball past half court. Virginia City outscored Jackpot, 22-9, in the third quarter.
Virginia City senior Quintin Allen led all scorers with 23 points (16 in the second half), Jordan Popiela added 17 and Brayden Ferguson had 12.
Allen said the Muckers regrouped at halftime.
"We knew we had to step up our game and start talking on defense. Defense was really our problem," Allen said. "We tried to put pressure on them. They can't handle the pressure."
Popiela admitted the Muckers were a little overconfident to start.
"We came out like we were cocky," he said. "(In the second half) we came off our winning high."
Narciso Camacho led the Jaguars with 17 points (10 in the first half), Darren Hester had 13 and Bernardo Torres-Cruz and Jonathan Martinez each had 12.
Virginia City coach Dick Lee said his team came out flat, probably due to clinching a state berth after Friday's win.
"We didn't even really celebrate after we won the championship (Saturday). We had more celebration (Friday) night) after beating Owyhee," Lee said. "We were playing scared, we weren't attacking. When we attack, we're pretty good. We've got guys who can finish. You would have never known by that first half."
From Southern Nevada, three-time defending champion Pahranagat Valley and Spring Mountain advanced to the state tournament.
Pahranagat beat Virginia City for the state title in 2011.
"We're excited. We know we have a chance, and we're going to go for it," Allen said of the state tournament.
Jackpot coach Carlos Perez admitted his team went away from what had worked so well in the first half, although that was due to the Muckers' increased defensive pressure.
"We went away from our set offense. We got caught up in the moment, got a little too fast. It came back and bit us," Perez said. "When we didn't adjust, it hurt us. We felt we didn't catch any breaks at the end, with the officials, but you can't put it on them or anyone, it's all on us."
Lee said the Muckers will be more focused for the state tournament.
"They're becoming better listeners. Basketball is becoming a little more important to them," Lee said.