The Division III Boys Arizona State Basketball Championships tipped off in the northwest Phoenix Tuesday night with a pair of games as teams hope to make their move towards Jobing.com Arena March 1st for the state finals.
At Northwest Christian, the scrappy visiting Holbrook Roadrunners jumped out to an early 18-point lead and had to hold on for a 63-60 upset win over the 11th-seeded Crusaders.
Holbrook (15-14) jumped out to a quick 37-19 halftime lead bombing away from the three-point line and out-hustling Northwest Christian (19-10) to the delight of the large Roadrunner crowd who made the three-hour drive to the Valley. The Crusaders began to climb back into it mid-way through the third quarter clamping down on defense and pressuring Holbrook’s perimeter shooters who burned them in the first half.
Abrian Dickson nailed a three-pointer in the see-saw game with just 15 seconds left making it 61-60 and the ‘Runners held on in the final moments for the three-point win. They’ll face sixth-seeded Combs on Friday.
Meanwhile, just down the I-17 Tariq James’ Cortez Colts raced out to huge first half lead and, unlike Holbrook, had no problems holding off visiting Estrella Foothills 73-46.
Cortez (23-3), a somewhat undersized D-III team like Holbrook, turned up the defensive pressure against the visiting Wolves (12-15). Davon MacBath swiped an errant pass late in the third quarter and hit fellow senior Danny Cervantes whose buzzer-beater angle right three-pointer made it 64-35.
James said his team had the luxury of several key players who were hurt in the Colts 51-48 win over Estrella earlier in the year. Cortez did an excellent job sharing the ball. Talented guard Avery Smith and 6’9 post Matt Drannbauer each had 13 points while Octavius Holguin added 12.
“They play hard for each other,” James said of his team.
Cortez will make a trip up the rim to face eight-seeded Snowflake at Payson High School in round two on Friday evening.