KINGMAN – When the Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team plays in the friendly confines of Betty Rowe Gymnasium, it’s almost a guarantee the Tigers will come away with a victory.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case Monday night as Academy lost its first home contest since Dec. 3 in a 62-51 setback to Northwest Christian.
“Monday games are always a little bit difficult, but the wonderful thing is our student section and our crowd was pumping us up a little bit,” said Tigers head coach William McDavid. “It took a little bit in the first quarter, but that’s going happen every once in a while. It’s unfortunate it had to happen today, but that’s how it goes.”
The first and fourth quarters were ultimately Academy’s downfall as it combined to score 16 points while the No. 11 ranked Crusaders (13-5, 8-2 3A West Region) put up 35 total points, highlighted by a 18-point fourth quarter.
The final quarter wasn’t kind to the Tigers as they managed just nine points with the majority of them coming before the 4:24 mark when Nate Perea tied the game at 50-50. From that point on Aden Dunton accounted for Academy’s lone points on two free throws with 2:04 remaining.
The Tigers were also dealt a blow with 2:11 remaining when Tyler Chinyere fouled out. Even with his early exit, he finished with a game-high 26 points.
“Tyler is a really big part of this program, but we had five guys out there that I feel fully confident in,” McDavid said. “They did a fine job of executing what we wanted to execute. We wanted to take some 3-point shots because we’re an excellent 3-point shooting team. But things weren’t falling for us. That basket was about an inch wide for us today.”
Academy’s missed shots combined with Northwest Christian’s 13 3-pointers didn’t help and McDavid was well aware of the opponent’s talent.
“They’re a wonderful team,” he said. “There’s a reason why they’re one of the top teams in the state and a reason why they won a football state championship. We saw their state championship football team in sneakers and jerseys today. They played tough.”
The Tigers also put up a fight as they used a 7-0 run during the third quarter to knot it up at 40-40. The momentum appeared to be shifting in Academy’s favor as Perea caught a long inbound pass with little time remaining and sank a layup for a 44-43 advantage entering the fourth.
That was the last time the Tigers led in the game as they saw their four game-winning streak come to an end.
Dunton joined Chinyere in double figures with 11 points, while Perea scored eight and Trey Skubal chipped in three points.
No. 15 ranked Academy (9-5, 5-3 3A West Region) hosts 25th-ranked Chino Valley (8-8, 2-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“We recognize that we’re a great team and we have a wonderful opportunity to get to the state tournament,” McDavid said. “We know we have two more games we have to be ready for – particularly one (Tuesday) against Chino, who we know has an excellent scorer. And we know Kingman always plays really hard on their home court. Neither one of those games is a gimmie. But we know once we get to state, we can make some noise. We’re that type of team that, ‘Get us in the door and you’re going to know who we are.’”
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