The boys basketball team from Flagstaff High had trailed by double digits before and rallied to win, but this was different.
This was the Division II state tournament – quarterfinals, to be exact.
The Eagles trailed Surprise Shadow Ridge by 18 points late in the second quarter but staged a furious second-half comeback and defeated the Stallions 61-53 on Wednesday (Feb. 26) at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Flagstaff (26-3) the No. 3 seed, will meet either second-seeded Tempe or No. 23 Phoenix Arcadia in one semifinal game on Thursday (Feb. 27) at Jobing.com. Tipoff is 4:15 p.m. Vail Cienega, a 62-54 winner over Gilbert Christian earlier Thursday, will face either top-seeded Tucson Salpointe Catholic or No. 8 Phoenix Shadow Mountain in the second semifinal at 7:45.
In the recent sectional tournament, Flagstaff trailed Prescott by 19 points early in the third quarter and came back to win by 12.
“So when we got down today, we had that to draw from, that we were capable of coming back,’’ said Flagstaff coach James Kirk.
Kirk said the comeback started late in the second quarter. Sixth-seeded Shadow Ridge (22-7) had a 36-18 lead with 1:37 left. But Flagstaff got a couple of defensive stops and converted at the other end to trail by 14 at intermission.
“I think that’s when the kids felt that they could get back in it, and it carried over into the third quarter,’’ he said.
“In the first half, they (Shadow Ridge) were hitting everything. The shots they were getting were too wide-open. We had to go to the man (to-man).’’
The lead was trimmed in half by the start of the fourth.
Then post players Conner Estes and Brett Morrow and guards Trevor Johnson and Bailey Stephens raised their level of play.
Flagstaff took the lead for good with 1:49 left in the game on a driving scoop shot by Stephens.
“Trevor is our emotional leader. Everybody seems to feed off him,’’ Kirk said.
Johnson scored 20 points. Guard Montez White had 17 for Shadow Ridge.