Aztecs win a nail-biter over Basha

Junior+Shane+Grier+shoots+basket+at+a+home+game+versus+Basha+on+Jan.+20.+

Photo by Maria Martin

Junior Shane Grier shoots basket at a home game versus Basha on Jan. 20.

Written by Jake Pyatt, Sports Editor

Boys’ basketball returned to Sammy Duane Gymnasium Wednesday night to take on the No. 2 team in state, Basha. The Aztecs, plagued by a short bench and early foul trouble, managed to escape with a 62-59 win.

The Aztecs entered the game without starter Nate Marshall, who suffered a broken nose Monday during the Shadow Mountain game. It was the first time the team rolled out seniors Jake Burroughs and Jeffrey McCain in the same starting lineup.

“I’m proud of the guys that were out there,” head coach Neil MacDonald said. “They really stepped up.”

The Aztecs had solid play in the first half on both sides of the ball which helped them go into halftime leading 37-22.

Basha came out in the second half to prove that they are one of Arizona’s elite teams. Basha went on an 11-3 run to open the third quarter, which seemed to rattle the Aztecs.

“We knew that they were going to come out strong,” guard Alex Barcello said. “We overcame adversity.”

Senior Tyrell Henderson was given a technical foul right after he picked up his fourth personal foul, leading to him fouling out late in the third quarter.

“We were thin already with Nate Marshall being out,” MacDonald said. “Tyrell was playing a big position for us tonight and we were able to get stops and really guard the bigs inside.”

The Aztecs went into the fourth quarter with a 49-45 advantage, but the Bears had all the momentum.

A big steal and breakaway dunk by Saben Lee early in the fourth helped the Aztecs focus and get back into the game.

A few questionable calls by the officials allowed Basha to take a 54-51 lead after MacDonald was called for a technical.

“That (the technical) is my fault,” MacDonald said. “I should know better than that. The players are going to play how I coach so if I lose my composure then I can’t expect them to keep theirs. I’m not real happy with myself about that.”

Corona took back the lead after Lee made a pair of free throws with five minutes left in regulation. Both teams went back and forth between free throws and field goals. The game would remain 58-57 in favor of the Aztecs for over two minutes. Barcello missed a few free throws late in the fourth that could have iced the game, which in turn gave the Bears hope. However, Basha couldn’t get up a 3-point shot before the buzzer, giving the Aztecs the win.

“I missed a couple of free throws so that’s something I’ve got to work on,” Barcello said. “Whatever happens happens so I just got to move on and keep getting better.”

“(Theses games) are all signature wins at this point,” MacDonald said. “That’s a tough team we faced and that’s a big win for us.”

The team travels to Perry Friday night to take on the Pumas.

“We’re going to rest up. We spent a lot of energy tonight,” MacDonald said.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time,” Barcello said. “We’ve got to come into practice and just work hard.”