Terrell Brown got early rest in Tuesday night's 6A boys basketball title game as he went to the Basha bench with two fouls. When he returned in the second period he was loaded for bear -- or was it Aztec.
Brown reeled off 11 points of a 13-0 Basha run before halftime and combined with hard-nosed, team defense throughout keyed the second-seeded Bears' eventual 75-65 victory over top-seeded Corona del Sol at Grand Canyon University. The title is the first boys team championship in the school's 15-year history.
Basha notched its 30th win of the season against only one loss in its fourth season under coach Mike Grothaus. The Bears have progressed in wins (10-19-23-30) and state tournament longevity each year under Grothaus. Corona (26-4), was shooting for its ninth state title and competing in its 14th championship game in four decades the school has been open.
"Defense and rebounding, that's our calling card,' Grothaus, who played for a state title team at Gilbert High in 2003, said. "(Corona) has two great players and we have five great defenders. Brennen Davis was tremendous defending Saben Lee. And Brown, that's what he does. We got contributions from everyone. It's all about team."
Brown, who took a seat in the final minute of the first period, missed five minutes of action before returning with under four minutes left in the second period. Corona led at that point, 28-26, but a basket by Brown tied things at 28 with 3:05 to the half. About 90 seconds later, Brown calmly buried three, 3-point shots on successive trips down the floor and the Bears' lead was 37-28. They took a 39-30 advantage to intermission.
Alex Barcello did all he could in helping Corona lead more of the first half than not. The University of Arizona -bound senior poured in 18 first-half points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 free throws. But Brown's heroics in the final minutes of the second quarter combined with first-half, offensive domination inside by senior forward Gabe McGlothan (12 points) were the impetus to the victory. Brown led Basha with 23 points and McGlothan added 21 points and game-high 11 rebounds. Combined they were 17 of 25 shooting from the field
Corona del Sol made a run at Basha in the third period, narrowing the deficit to four late in the third period. It was a two-possession game heading to the final stanza. Coleson Struh's only points of the game -- a three to open the fourth period -- pushed the lead to nine. One more run keyed by Brown and McGlothan, both of whom played with four fouls much of or all the final period, essentially put Corona away. Basha guard Austin Picarello made sure making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 2:07 and finished with 11 points.
Corona del Sol coach Neil MacDonald gave credit where it was due without hesitation.
"We missed shots, but they made us miss shots," MacDonald said. "It was a privilege to play in this game, and we gave it all we had. The shots Brown made, especially those three 3s hurt. But we got out of that hole. Got within a possession and then couldn't get over that hump."
McGlothan seconded MacDonald's comment.
"I can't say enough about our defense," McGlothan said. "Brennan Davis, Terrell Brown. It took us a litlte while to get our feet under us. The defense was there all the time."
Barcello closed out a fabulous, four-year career at Corona with two state titles and three title game appearances with a game-high 25 points and team-high eight rebounds along with Lee. Barcello was not as effective in the second half, hitting just 3 of 11 shots.
Lee, the other half of Corona's 1-2 punch this season and headed to Vanderbilt, finished with 19 points. Eleven were scored in the final 2 1/2 minutes when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Lee was 2 of 8 from the field with eight points through the first three quarters.