A lightning-quick start, a big comeback and a phantom timeout were the key points in Tuesday night’s (Feb. 18) Division III boys basketball state tournament opener between No. 22 seed Holbrook and No. 11 host Phoenix Northwest Christian.
Holbrook appeared as if it would run away with a 22-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Northwest Christian battled back to take a late lead before Holbrook slipped out of the gym with a 63-60 victory.
Holbrook (15-14) advances to Friday’s (Feb. 21) second round against No. 6 seed San Tan Valley Combs at Glendale Copper Canyon.
A 3-pointer by Abrian Dickson, his third long shot of the night, turned a 60-58 deficit into a 61-60 Holbrook lead with 17 seconds left in the contest. Holbrook’s Marlin Martin then finished off the Crusaders (19-10) with two free throws with 11.8 seconds remaining.
After Dickson’s basket, officials awarded a timeout to Northwest Christian, but there was a catch. Crusaders coach Jason Cook claimed that neither he nor his players called such a timeout, that he was going to wait until the ball crossed the midcourt line before calling his final timeout to set up a play.
Northwest Christian was forced to inbound the ball from the Holbrook baseline and a long pass by the Crusaders was knocked away by Holbrook.
Cook said he asked the officials to tell him who called the timeout, but neither could answer him.
But Cook was not going to blame that sequence for his team’s loss.
“We dug ourselves to deep of a hole in the first half,’’ he said. “We had 15 turnovers in the first half and they (Holbrook) had seven 3-pointers (the Roadrunners had 11 for the game).’’
Northwest Christian senior post player Nathanael Mains, wearing a headband and resembling Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski, scored 26 points to lead all scorers.
Jacob Sanchez scored 14 and Bryce Bauman had 12.
Holbrook, meanwhile, had a balanced effort. Martin and Dickson had 12 points apiece and Andon Hatch and Kyle Chee each had 11.
“The first half, we did what we wanted to do and then we lost our composure and let them get back into it,’’ said Holbrook coach Raul Mendoza.
Of Dickson’s big 3, Mendoza said, “We played him early but then didn’t put him back in until late in the game and I think they (Northwest Christian) might have forgotten about him.’’
The coach thinks his team’s record is a bit deceptive, given the fact that it plays tough competition in the northern part of Arizona on a regular basis.
“We’ve only really been blown out of one game, but every other game, we’ve had our chances. We lost a couple of games that we should have won,’’ he said.