Just 48 hours after knocking off top-seed and four-time Division I champion Corona del Sol the Sunnyslope Vikings held off Gilbert 46-43 to set up a championship game showdown Monday night against second-seeded Mesa.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” ‘Slope head coach Ray Portela said after the win at GCU Arena. “Our guys just work hard…they keep their cool.”
They needed to after watching their eight-point halftime lead evaporate into a last-minute nail-biter.
Much like the Corona game, the Vikings’ stout defense kept the Tigers out of their motion offense in the first half. Gilbert managed just five points in the first quarter and eight in the second. Sunnyslope didn’t exactly blister the nets connecting on 15-36 field goals (41.7%) but limited the four-seed to 34% on 15-44 shooting.
“It was a great team effort,” a relieved Portela said of his eighth-seeded team.
Versatile backcourt mates Dane Maggi and Kyle Fischer combined for 27 points pacing the young underdogs to another “upset.”
“We’ve got a lot of sophomores,” Portela explained. “They don’t know any better.”
6-7 senior captain Chris Bowling paced Gilbert with 14 points but made just 6-17 shots, including 1-6 on three-pointers.
Do the Vikings have one more “upset” left?
We’ll find out Monday at Gila River Arena in Glendale.