When Basha and Desert Ridge played early this season, the Bears needed a buzzer-beater to prevail. In their 6A quarterfinal matchup on Saturday night, the game was over long before that.
No. 2 Basha, led by Terrell Brown's 25 points, opened up a double-digit lead after one quarter and never looked back in dismantling No. 10 Desert Ridge, 68-40, at Basha High.
Basha (28-1) returns to the big-school semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Bears take on No. 3 Desert Vista, a 59-53 winner over Brophy Prep. Basha and Brophy meet Thursday Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at Gila River Arena. That game will be followed at 7:30 by No. 1 Corona del Sol against No. 4 Cesar Chavez. They won their quarterfinal games over Westview and Pinnacle, respectively.
Basha, which edged Desert Ridge 34-33 in what Bears coach Mike Grothaus described as an "ugly game' on Dec. 2, took more pride in this triumph.
"Our guys came out and played great," Grothaus said. "Very proud of them. We got after it defensively right away, hit some shots and shared the ball. That's the way we like to play."
Basha connected on 8 of 13 shots in the first quarter, including a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range in amassing a 21-10 lead. Brown, the NAU-bound football and basketball standout, scored eight points in the first quarter and sank two of the threes. Austin Picarello, Coleson Struhs and Amari Hudson added one 3 apiece. Brown made 9 of 11 shots from the field for the game - four of them threes. He was active on the offensive glass as well with a trio of putbacks.
Basha used a 20-8 edge in the second quarter to build its lead to 41-18. Brown scored 11 points in the period and forward Gabe McGlothan six of his 13 points for the night. Brennan Davis chipped in 10 points for Basha (eight in the third period).
Desert Ridge (14-15), led this season by senior guard Keith Holmes and forwards Jalen and Jason Harris, saw Holmes get untracked with eight points in the first period. The Harris's (6-foot-5 senior Jalen and 6-8 freshman Jason, struggled. They both left two minutes apart in the third period with their fourth fouls, but by then the game was out of hand. Jason Harris finished with 5 points and Jalen with two.
The Harris's were defended well in the first period and by late in the quarter and early in the second were in foul trouble. Each had three fouls and sat for more than half the second quarter. They combined for two points in the first half.
"They were making everything, and we couldn't find the basket," Desert Ridge coach Greg Ream said. "I think we had them 7 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half. They've improved a ton since we played them the first time. They beat our behinds on the boards. We had no rhythm on offense. Hats off to them. They're a great team."