KINGMAN – Friday night went beyond the game of basketball.
Boys basketball: Kingman at Kingman Academy - Jan. 18, 2019
The Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team cruised to a 76-50 victory Friday night over Kingman High. Photos by Beau Bearden.
The evening did feature the Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team knocking off Kingman 76-50, but it wasn’t as important as the events surrounding Cancer Night at Betty Rowe Gymnasium.
“We always have a really great crowd out here, but tonight is a special night, obviously,” said Tigers head coach William McDavid. “We love the idea that we’re able to go out and support various programs. We know that cancer affects a lot of people, myself included. A lot of my family members have suffered from it and a lot of our players have.”
Academy even made the night more personal as the Tigers signed a poster for all the loved ones they were playing for who have or are being affected by cancer.
“I think that’s one of those things that fueled us tonight,” McDavid said of the sign. “We’re out here not just for basketball, but to support and to show that we are growing men who want to give back to this community.”
The significance of the cause along with the fact Academy was battling the rival Bulldogs created a great atmosphere for all. And the Tigers fans made sure their presence was known.
“Our student section is crazy – whether it’s three people or 50,” senior Tyler Chinyere said. “They’re always loud and we can always hear them. They’re always cheering us on. We’re so fortunate to have such an amazing student section.”
Chinyere made it easy for Academy’s fans to cheer with two electrifying dunks in the second half as the Tigers took a 67-37 advantage entering the final quarter.
“It’s not an everyday thing that we get this lead, so when we do have it we try to put on a show for the people that support us,” Chinyere said. “I knew I had it in my bag, so I kind of went for it.”
Chinyere led all scorers with 25 points, while Nate Perea tallied 20 and Stevie Wusstig added eight. The Tigers had nine different players finish with at least two points and all 11 saw minutes in the game.
“We feel very comfortable with one through 11 in our program,” McDavid said. “Anyone we put out there at any moment produces for us. It’s not about getting points, it’s not about getting rebounds – it’s about not making mistakes and being confident with the ball. We have 11 guys in our program that do that. If I didn’t have confidence in them, they wouldn’t have a jersey.”
Meanwhile, Kingman found itself with a large halftime deficit after being outscored 27-11 in the second quarter. It didn’t get much better in the third quarter as the Bulldogs trailed by 28 points after Academy went on a 10-0 run.
“We just struggled to shoot tonight and sometimes that’s the case,” said Kingman High head coach Nick Juby. “Usually if we’re struggling to shoot, we have to lean on our defense better. I have to give credit to the Academy, they played a heck of a game tonight.”
Matt Ruggles and Rider Havatone each finished with nine points for the Bulldogs, while Tucker Humble chipped in eight points.
“I told them we have five left and it can go one of two ways,” Juby said of his postgame speech. “They all kind of looked around and they agreed. This group is really resilient. This will hurt tonight, obviously because it’s in town and it always hurts a little more. … But we can end the season on a high note. We’re a very capable team when we play the way I know we’re capable of playing.”
No. 34 ranked Kingman (3-9, 0-5 3A West Region) is back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday on the road against Chino Valley, but first the 21st-ranked Tigers (6-4, 2-2) make the trip to battle the No. 26 ranked Cougars (7-5, 1-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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