The Peoria Panthers boys basketball team showed just why they’re one of the top teams in the state of Arizona on Friday night.
Guard Dewayne Russell led the Panthers with 19 points, as Peoria ran past Flagstaff 50-33 in the semi-finals of the Division II Section II boys championship.
The Eagles took a 10-9 lead after the first quarter, but the Panthers’ defense took over and put the lock on their game after that, holding them to 24 points over the final three quarters.
“We’re a defensive minded team,” Russell said. “Then I tried to distribute the ball the best I can.”
Guard Lawrence Pierce chipped in with 11 points of his own, getting many easy high-percentage shots courtesy of Russell.
Pierce said the defense had to kick in because they weren’t playing Panther basketball in the first half.
“We realized we weren’t playing our game,” Pierce said. “We went in the locker room, everybody rallied together and just came out and played Peoria basketball, 100% defense and everything.”
“To play in the sectional championship game is big,” Pierce said. “It’s gonna be a lotta fun.”
Peoria improved to 23-2 with the victory, and will take on top seeded Raymond S. Kellis on Saturday night at Greenway High School for the title.
The ball tips at 7:30 p.m.