For the Millennium High School girls’ basketball team, winning state titles has become almost routine – and relatively easy..
For the Millennium boys, it has become the most frustrating part of the season.
The girls pulled off their second straight 5A state championship Monday night, winning each title by almost 30 points, 59-30 against Sunrise Mountain High School this time and 66-40 against Gilbert High last season.
Meanwhile, the boys finished runner-up the last two seasons, losing both championship games by a combined nine points. Gilbert beat them in a 38-37 heartbreak last year, and Ironwood High School handed them a 78-70 loss Monday night in a game that was even closer than the final score indicated.
The state title in boys basketball is the first in the more than three decades the Ironwood program has existed.
In the boys’ game, the top-seeded Tigers (24-6) were down just two points, 72-70, with just 30 seconds left to play, but Ironwood made its trips to the free throw line count and were able to hold the lead, and even build on it. Their success at the charity stripe for the night amounted to 21 points in 25 attempts.
Millennium took an early 7-2 advantage before No. 2 Ironwood (28-2) assumed the lead late in the first quarter and never relinquished it. The entire scoring load for the Eagles was carried by four players, led by 18 points from Dominic Gonzalez. Trent Hudgens and Bailon Black each scored 17 and JJ White added 16.
Four Ironwood players also finished the game with double figures. DaRon Holmes, the 6’9″ junior post player considered one of the top players in the state, led the way with 17 points, and added eight rebounds and five blocks. Justice Marmara and Justus Jackson each contributed 14 points and Robby Devries finished with 11.
Ironwood will have momentum when it begins the 2020-21 season after finishing this season with an 18-game winning streak.
In the girls’ game, Millennium took the suspense out of the outcome even before halftime arrived. The Tigers went into the locker room with a 40-18 advantage following a second quarter that broke the game open as Millennium outscored Sunrise Mountain 25-6 during those eight minutes.
Millennium (27-4) was the taller and more athletic team, but it was shooting and ball control that doomed Sunrise Mountain (26-5). The Mustangs piled up 22 turnovers and shot 21 percent from the field.
Alexandra Zelaya, the Tigers’ 6’4″ senior forward, topped all scorers with 22 points, and then chipped in 14 rebounds and four blocks. Senior forward Teryn Demaree led the Sunrise Mountain offense with 16 points.