GLENDALE – When the game was on the line, Santa Rita High School’s star was at his best.
Terrell Stoglin scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s Class 4A Division II boys basketball semifinal, leading No. 2 Santa Rita to a 66-61 win over No. 3 Amphi at the Jobing.com Arena.
“The only thing that was going through my mind was to keep playing hard,” said Stoglin, who was less than his spectacular self through the first three quarters Wednesday. “We’ve played that team four times this year; we know what kind of team they are.”
The win moves Santa Rita into Tuesday’s 4A-II championship for the third straight season. Stoglin, a junior, has been the Eagles’ starting point guard each of the past three seasons.
The school also played in, and lost, the 2005 Class 4A state championship game.
For coach Jim Ferguson, it will be his fifth state championship game, tying him with his mentor, Dick McConnell, who had five title game appearances with Sahuaro+, winning four.
Ferguson coached Santa Rita to its only boys basketball title in 1999.
Wednesday night, while Amphi tried to erase a 47-40 deficit in the final period, Stoglin proved to be too much.
In the fourth quarter, Stoglin hit four field goals, including one 3-pointer, and went 5 for 5 from the free throw line.
“You know once he starts feeling it and gets a feel for a game, he is going to take over,” Ferguson said. “Even if two or three guys are bodying him, he is strong enough with the ball to just go by people.”
Amphi’s size and rebounding advantage, which propelled the Panthers to an overtime victory over Santa Rita on Jan. 6, wasn’t quite enough to get the Panthers to their first state title game since 1949 when coach George Genung’s team lost to Tucson High. Amphi (26-7) finished second this season to Santa Rita in the 4A Gila Region and, after the overtime win in early January, lost three straight to the Eagles.
A sloppy first half ended with Santa Rita leading 26-22.
“We looked cold, we were forcing everything, and we didn’t do a good job of letting the game come to us,” Ferguson said.
Amphi found itself trailing by as many as 18 points in the second half before a steady rally saw the final margin dwindle to just five points.
The Panthers were led by 25 points from senior Chris Johnson, who scored 18 in the second half.
Johnson (6-2, 180) was able to use his size advantage to force his way into the paint throughout the night.
Santa Rita was slowed from its normally frenetic pace – the Eagles averaged 91 points in their first two playoff wins – as Amphi was able to force Stoglin into bad shots and limited his room to work, holding him to only five points in the first half.
Stoglin’s teammate, Andre Hatchett, pitched in with 17 points.
Santa Rita (21-8) now moves on to play No. 1 Phoenix Greenway, which is 29-0.
Tuesday’s championship game will tip off at 4 p.m. in Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena and will be televised in southern Arizona on Cox Cable Channel 7.
High School Sports Editor Geoff Grammer contributed.
The Santa Rita boys basketball team will play in the seventh state championship game in school history on Tuesday in Glendale:
2009: No. 2 Santa Rita vs. No. 1 Phoenix Greenway (Tuesday in Glendale)
2008: lost to Goodyear Desert Edge 40-36
2007: lost to Scottsdale Notre Dame 61-56
2005: lost to Glendale Apollo 60-48
1999: beat Phoenix Thunderbird 50-41 (OT)
1992: lost to Cholla 88-84
1979: lost to Phoenix St. Mary’s 94-72
1972: lost to Safford 73-49