Falcons advance to state semifinals for first time since 2001
The Catalina Foothills High School boys basketball team has never played for a state championship.
Friday night, after overcoming an emotional, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Cienega’s Mario Sanchez that forced overtime, No. 5 Catalina Foothills regained its composure for a 79-75 win at No. 4 Cienega, reaching the state semifinals for the first time since 2001.
“We want to be the best Foothills team in history,” said junior guard Connor Bailey. “We’ve taken two steps toward that and we need two more wins. That’s what we want. We want that state championship.”
Foothills, which had lost to Cienega by 14 in December, moves on to play No. 1 Phoenix Sunnyslope at 7:45 p.m. Thursday in Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena.
Friday, the Foothills celebration was temporarily put on hold when Sanchez hit his 3-pointer, a shot that initially appeared to be a miss until it took a high bounce off the rim and fell through the net.
“When I saw it, I thought it was game over and I thought we had won,” said Bailey who scored a game-high 25 points. “But then we had to regroup and get our team back in and that’s what we did.”
Cienega (22-8) was led by 20 points from Brandon Burnett.
Class 4A Division II
No. 3 Amphi used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to roll to a 58-50 win over visiting Gilbert Perry, the tournament’s No. 11 seed, in the 4A-II quarterfinals.
Amphi senior Chris Johnson and junior Malcolm Miller each had a three-point play in the deciding fourth-quarter run.
“Those were very big points for us,” Johnson said. “The first three quarters were tough. When the fourth quarter came, we had more energy.”
Johnson finished with 19 points. Sophomore point guard Lester Medford scored 12 points and dished out six assists.
Amphi will face a familiar foe, No. 2 Santa Rita, in Wednesday’s 4A-II semifinal in Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena. Amphi beat Santa Rita 59-58 in overtime on Jan. 6. Santa Rita has won the last two meetings.
No. 2 Santa Rita 93, No. 7 Scottsdale Arcadia 65: At Santa Rita, junior point guard Terrell Stoglin scored 27 of his game-high 36 points in the first half and Santa Rita’s 35-16 first quarter erased any doubt early in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Arcadia never closed to closer than 16 points after the first quarter.
Stoglin also dished out 11 assists and hit five 3-pointers in the win, which despite the 93 points was all set up by defense, according to coach Jim Ferguson.
“That’s just the way we play – we go from the defensive end to the offensive end as good as any team I’ve seen in the state,” Ferguson said. “We jumped on them early and we were able to score a lot in transition.”
Santa Rita’s Mark Simmons added 16 points and Andre Hatchett scored 16.
Class 1A Semifinals
After dodging a bullet with a two-point win in Thursday’s quarterfinals, defending 1A champion St. Gregory “put the fun back in fundamentals” according to coach Paul Baranowski and cruised to a comfortable 71-38 semifinal win over Williams at Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain High.
“We saw people smiling out there, and I didn’t see that the night before,” said Baranowski, whose team improved to 35-1.
Senior Bennett Sawyer scored 24 points and sophomore Frankie Mgbolu added 19 in the win.
St. Gregory plays Elfrida Valley Union in Saturday’s state championship in Prescott Valley.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.
By Geoff Grammer, Raymond Suarez, Rodney Haas