Citizen Staff Writer
BOYS 4A-II HOOPS
TEMPE – The usual recipe for Santa Rita High’s basketball success wasn’t working at the Wells Fargo Arena.
It didn’t need to Tuesday night.
Senior center Darnell Shumpert had 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks, and sophomore star Terrell Stoglin overcame an off shooting night to add 18 points and 10 assists as the Eagles cruised to a 77-64 win over Phoenix Greenway.
The win puts the Eagles in their second straight Class 4A Division II state championship game and third in four years.
“You could tell they were keying on Terrell,” Santa Rita coach Jim Ferguson said of Greenway’s defensive game plan. “And DJ (Shumpert) is so unselfish, the points just came to him tonight.”
Santa Rita plays No. 1 seed Goodyear Desert Edge, which beat Phoenix Cortez 67-36, for the 4A-II title at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena – a rematch of the 2007 semifinals, won by Santa Rita.
“This is the game everyone’s been looking for since we beat them last year,” Ferguson said. “… 4A-II or not, this might be the two best teams in the state playing Thursday night.”
Stoglin, who averages more than 21 points a game, was held to just five in the first half Tuesday.
Shumpert, who averages a triple-double and has had one in three previous postseason games this year, scored 17 first-half points. But his shot blocking was limited in the first two quarters.
Both players found other ways to impose their wills.
“Everyone has an off night,” Stoglin said. “But we have other guys on the team that can pick it up. I had sort of a quiet night, but anytime Darnell wants, he can score like he did tonight and . . . I don’t think anyone can beat us.”
Shumpert said Stoglin was “still in control all night and even when he’s not scoring, he’s making all of us on the court better with all the other things he does.”
Ferguson said he doesn’t think there’s a better duo in the state.
“We’re down in Tucson and sometimes it’s hard to recognize some of these guys, but you can’t tell me DJ (Shumpert) isn’t one of the five best players in the state of Arizona,” Ferguson said. “With him and Terrell, we have a great one-two punch. I don’t know that there are two better players on any team in the state.”
Santa Rita has won with its up-tempo offense all season, but it realized at halftime its best chance for a return trip to the 4A-II title game wasn’t to continue trading baskets with a Greenway team riding a 14-game winning streak heading into the semifinal.
The Eagles opened the third quarter forcing turnovers on the first four possessions, leading to an 8-0 run. Counting the 5-0 run to end the second quarter, the defensive-minded Eagles used a 21-3 surge to turn a 31-31 tie game into a comfortable 52-34 lead with 1:49 left in the third period.
Greenway went 7:55 without scoring a field goal in the stretch.
“The first three minutes of the third quarter were real big,” Ferguson said. “We felt if we could get a cushion, they’d have to rush their offense and if they do that, it plays right into our hands. . . . We were extending our defense in the first half, then we sort of collapsed a little bit to start the third quarter and just let them come to us.”
Greenway tried to steal momentum late in the third quarter, going on a 9-0 run and getting the home crowd in a frenzy before Stoglin drained a 53-foot buzzer beater at the end of the third to kill Greenway’s run. Stoglin’s shot gave Santa Rita a 12-point bulge to start the fourth quarter.
Shumpert, who according to MaxPreps.com leads the nation in blocked shots with 10.6 per game, got most of his seven blocks Tuesday in the waning moments while Greenway’s desperate attempt to start a rally led to rushed shots and sloppy play.