Revenge. Frustration. Prolific scoring. And one Cinderella.
That’s the mix of great story lines we get with this year’s 4A state championship high school basketball games on tap for tomorrow.
The REVENGE comes on the boys’ side, where second-ranked Sunnyslope HS in 4A-I gets a chance to even the score with No. 1 McClintock HS, which beat the Vikings by 18 points earlier in the season when both teams met up in the Martin Luther King Classic in January.
Sunnyslope rode the steady shooting of it’s top scorer, Royce Woolridge, in the 61-57 semi-final win over Dysart HS. Woolridge scored 28 points, despite being the focus of the Dysart defense. And McClintock got 24 points from its point guard, Derek Owens, who was also 14-of-16 at the free throw line in the 72-66 semi-final win over Catalina Foothills HS (Tucson). Jake Klewer also had 24 points for the Chargers.
And a couple of Tucson teams meet in 4A-II, where No. 1 Amphitheater HS wants to avenge an earlier loss to No. 2 Santa Rita HS, the only 4A-II school to beat them this season. But Amphitheater first has to figure out a way to deal effectively with Santa Rita’s senior scoring machine of Terrell Stoglin, Dominique Kelly, and Andre Hatchett. Stoglin scored a game-high 27 points against Palo Verde HS (Tucson) in the semi-final match-up, which gives him 2,889 career points as a four-year starter, a Tucson high school record.
Both teams are capable of putting up big numbers, actually matching final scoring totals in the semis. Santa Rita scored 85 points in beating Palo Verde and Amphitheater notched 85 in its semi-final win over Williams Field HS.
The 4A-II title game is also where we find the FRUSTRATION factor as Santa Rita HS will be making a fourth consecutive attempt to bring home a state title. That’s FOURTH! The Eagles have been to the championship game the last three years, but left empty-handed each time. Even more frustrating, all three games went down to the wire… losing by 3 points, 4 points, and 2 points last year.
And the CINDERELLA has to be the Page HS girls team. Every other 4A match-up is a No. 1 vs. No. 2 – except in 4A-I girls competition where Page is the No. 6 seed going against No. 1 Seton Catholic. And the Sand Devils squeezed past its last two opponents to get to the title game, narrowly beating No. 2 Flagstaff in the semi-final game, 49-47.
Junior guard Ileana Johnson did everything she could to pull Flag into that championship game, scoring 29 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and adding five steals. But Page spread its scoring around a little more, with senior forward Candice Cornaby leading the way with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
So now Page gets a shot at Number One, with a state title on the line. But Seton hasn’t lost a game all season to a team in 4A-II. And it’s not likely to start now.
And, if it’s SCORING you crave, the 4A-I girls title game is for you. Shadow Mountain HS is led by the state’s leading scorer, Lexi Kresl, who scored 21 points in leading her team to a 49-34 semi-final victory over Prescott HS. But Apollo HS, Shadow Mountain’s opponent in the championship game, counters with a junior aptly named Promise Amukamara. She laid 27 points on Cactus Shadows HS in the semis to lead her squad to a 59-45 win.
So, pick your game. 4A-I or 4A-II. Boys or girls.
You can’t miss this year.