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#9 Basha controls #8 Highland 2nd quarter on for 61-52 win

March 11, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Basha's Torin Bosch (23) defends a perimeter shot by Highland's Derick Caps in first half of Thursday's playoff game. (AzPreps365 photo)

Basha's boys hoops team had a tough go the final 10 games of the regular season, going 2-8 after an 8-1 start. Despite the early up and the late down, coach Mike Grothaus didn't lose faith.

That faith was rewarded Thursday night in the first round of the 6A state tournament. #9 Basha took control by outscoring host #8 Highland, 14-5 in the second quarter en route to a 61-52 victory.

Basha (11-9) earned a Saturday evening rematch at #1 Sunnyslope in a quarterfinal game. Sunnyslope elimintated #16 Corona del Sol in the first round. Highland, which tied #6 Mountain Pointe for the Central Region title this season, finished 13-5.

"I know we came into this having gone through a tough patch," Grothaus said. "We had a lot of close losses. Games we didn't make winning plays when it counted. I know this is a good team. We needed to get back to making plays like we did the first half of the year. Tonight was maybe our best game start to finish."

Senior guard Trenton McLaughlin spread his game-high 25 points evenly over the course of the night.  The impetus for the win was the second quarter when Basha snapped an 18-all tie and proceeded to take command at halftime, 32-23. The Bears shot 50 percent from the field in the first half (12 of 24) and limited Highland to 2 of 11 shooting in the second quarter. Highland excels at getting baskets going back door via driving to the basket and cutting. That portion of its game was stifled in the second period going forward.

"We wanted to take that away," Grothaus said. "They got a couple early ones on us, but after that had to put up shots from outside. That was the way I felt we would have to play to win tonight. Our guys did great."

Grothaus complimented the play of his junior post, Brady Reynolds and freshman wing Chris Warren, both starters. Each totaled eight points. Warren sank a pair of threes in the first half - one in each quarter. Reynolds added toughest inside helping defend the back-door assault. Warren and Reynolds both grabbed offensive rebounds off missed free throws in the final 40 seconds when Highland closed to within 55-51 on two free throws by senior Derick Kaps (team-high 17 points).

The lone downside to Basha's play was free-throw shooting, particularly in the final quarter. Over the first seven minutes of the quarter they made just 5 of 11 from the line. Highland was able to keep the score a two-possession game because of that. McLaughlin helped cure that in the final 30 seconds making 4 of 4 as the Hawks were forced to foul. Basha finished 14 of 24 from the line.

Kaps kept Highland in the game with 13 of his 17 points in the second half. AJ Riggs and Mason Knollmiller checked in with nine points each and Jace Patton tallied eight points off the Hawks' bench.