D-III Boys Hoops: Pueblo to play Casa Grande for section title
February 12, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365
Division III, Section III Tournament
No. 15 Pueblo and No. 17 Cholla came into the Division III, Section III tournament knowing an at-large state-playoff bid was practically in the bag. The only question would be what team they would play and where and that depended on how the sectional tournament played out.
Knowing the top 16 teams get to host a playoff game, Pueblo (17-9) and Cholla (15-9) had the ability to improve their seeding position during the sectional tournament. The Warriors avoided a seeding disaster by beating No. 21 Flowing Wells 69-61 in overtime in the first round on Wednesday before beating Cholla 48-43 in the semifinal round on Friday night.
No 25 Palo Verde lost to No. 30 Vista Grande 39-36 in the first round on the other side of the bracket to make things extremely difficult for the Titans. A state playoff spot is highly unlikely for the team now especially since Vista Grande went on to lose to No. 5 Casa Grande 69-58 in the other semifinal played Friday night at Desert View.
Pueblo will take on Casa Grande (25-3) on Saturday night in the sectional championship game. The winner will not only earn an automatic state-playoff berth, a top-11 seed is also on the line. The Cougars are also playing for a first-round bye. They have the most to lose.
Cholla flew out to a 16-11 lead on Pueblo thanks to the hot hand of sophomore Chris Barraza. Barraza scored eight of his 13 points in the first quarter and five more in the second to help keep the Chargers in the lead at 23-18 with 2:15 left in the half.
Cholla went into the break up 27-22. Only five fouls were called in the first half and each team was limited to one shot which helped Cholla maintain the slim lead. Pueblo defeated Cholla 83-63 two weeks earlier but this game was playing out much differently, until the middle of the third quarter.
The Chargers began to miss shots in the third and second chance opportunities were practically nonexistent for both teams. James Dominguez scored six of his game-high 18 points in the third but Pueblo pulled even at 35-35 heading to the fourth.
Dominguez scored four more points and Cholla led 39-35 with 5:32 left but a 3-pointer from Bobby Taylor and another from Jesus Lopez gave Pueblo a 41-39 lead with 4:45 left. Dominguez and Isaiah Attles would trade free throws and Cedric Cotton scored with 2:15 left to give Pueblo a 44-40 lead.
Marcel Dean drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to 44-43 with 1:53 left but Pueblo went on for the 48-43 win.
Cotton led Pueblo with 14 points and Attles added 11. Attles is the grandson of NBA standout Al Attles.
The AIA Bracket Show is scheduled for Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. at azpreps365.com.