HOOPS PLAYOFFS: Five Southern Arizona teams advance to semifinals

February 18, 2017 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Mason Stark led Marcos de Niza with 19 points.
(Andy Morales/AZPreps365.com)

It was a bad night for the 5A teams from Southern Arizona as No. 5 Buena, No. 6 Cienega and No. 10 Sahuaro all fell in the quarterfinal round on Saturday night but the results were completely opposite in the 4A bracket where two powerhouse programs from the Kino Region will meet for the third time this year.

No. 2 Salpointe beat No. 7 Tempe 70-48 and No. 3 Catalina Foothills beat No. 11 Marcos de Niza 71-56 to set up the third game of the year between the Lancers and the Falcons. Catalina Foothills (21-5) won both of the regular-season games to capture the region championship but the semifinal game will be for a shot at the state title.

Salpointe (21-9) played for three state championships, with the last coming in 2013 in the old Division II conference, while the Falcons will be playing for their first final appearance.

Catalina Foothills shot out to an early 6-2 lead on Marcos de Niza (17-11) but the Padres went on a 12-0 run to take a 14-6 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter. The two teams battled back and forth with the Falcons slowly chipping away at the lead and a dunk from Sam Beskind with 4:16 left in the first half closed the gap to 23-22.

The Padres went into the locker room with a slim 33-31 lead.

“We were down at halftime but we knew we could make a run at any moment,” senior Jared Irwin said.  “This is just a crazy feeling.”

The Padres were limited to six points in the third quarter and Catalina Foothills took advantage to build a 46-39 lead with one quarter to play. The Falcons exploded for 25 points in the fourth to pull away for the 71-56 victory.

Beskind finished with 25 points to lead all scorers and Phoenix Katz and Irwin scored 14 each to help lead the Falcons. Jimmy Stewart and Spencer Lewis scored seven each.

Mason Stark led Marcos de Niza with 19 points, Tyson Union added 16 and Zurell Robinson scored 12.

The semifinal game between Salpointe and Catalina Foothills will be played on Thursday, Feb. 23 at Copper Canyon High School in Glendale and will be streamed live on the NFHS Network.

“It’s going to be super exciting,” Irwin added. “The fans were great each time we played and I’m sure the atmosphere will be the same for this one.”

In 3A action, No. 13 Sabino took care of No. 4 American Leadership 52-48 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinal round to be played in Prescott Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 21 against No. 5 Ganado. Ganado scored on a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to beat No. 12 Page to set up the game with Sabino.

No. 1 The Gregory School (29-1) will advance to the 1A semifinals thanks to a 72-54 win over No. 8 Joseph City in a quarterfinal game played at Yavapai College. Nick Rosquist scored 32 points in the win. The Hawks have won two state championships and are playing for their first trip to the final since 2009.

No. 4 Valley Lutheran (26-4) will be waiting for the Hawks after the Flames outlasted No. 5 St. David 57-56 in double overtime.

On the girl’s side, No. 3 The Gregory School beat No. 11 Anthem Prep 42-35 to advance to the semifinals to be played on Friday, Feb. 24 in Prescott Valley. The Hawks (21-7) will face No. 2 Rock Point (18-6).

Rock Point played for the Division V championship last year while the Hawks have never been to the final game.

“I couldn't be prouder of my team and all of the hard work they have put in to make it this far,” The Gregory School standout Taylor Thomson said. “It's our year!”