Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – The Kingman High School boys basketball team faced a four-point halftime deficit Tuesday night and needed a spark. The Bulldogs found it with a defensive adjustment that paid off in a 62-58 win over Chino Valley.
“In the first half, we came out a little slow and lethargic,” said Kingman head coach Nick Juby. “So I told them we’d try to press coming out in the third quarter. It really affected Chino and it got our guys hyped up. When you press someone and you get a turnover and a bucket, it just gets everyone in the gym going a little more.”
That was exactly the case as the Bulldogs quickly took a three-point lead, 29-26, with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter. The 7-0 run was solely sparked by Kingman’s pressure defense and Juby knew it was just a matter of time.
“We put Chino on their heels a lot in the first half, but we just didn’t attack it really well,” he said. “Once we put that press on them, we took advantage of them being a little more timid with the ball.”
The success on defense carried over to the offensive end and it resulted in a high-scoring third quarter (23-12) that gave the Bulldogs a 45-38 advantage entering the final quarter.
“I was really pleased with the effort coming out of halftime because we’ve had some rough third quarters,” Juby said. “Tonight was not one of them – 23 points in the third quarter was big. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
While the Cougars (2-6, 0-1 3A West Region) did inch within one point, 53-52, with 4:19 to play, that was as close as they could get in suffering the loss.
Elijah Howery led Kingman with 15 points, while Gage Plummer scored 10 and Tony Napier and Tucker Humble each added eight points.
“We had a really balanced effort tonight,” Juby said. “… This was really the first time we’ve had a really full complement of guys because Christian Demme and Anthony Siyuja were finally eligible.”
Juby added that the duo have been “chomping at the bit” and were excited to get on the court.
Siyuja finished with six points and Demme tallied five for the Bulldogs, which was exactly what Howery wanted to see.
“We are all such close friends and pretty much call each other brothers,” he said. “I was so glad to see (Demme) score that first basket and smile because he’s a good player.”
Kingman (5-5, 1-1) returns to the floor Friday at 7 p.m. for a road contest at Wickenburg (3-3, 1-0).
“Our goal is still intact and that’s to make the state tournament,” Juby said. “We have a tough one with Wickenburg. They’re very good. They’re going to play fast and we’re going to have to lace up the track shoes on that.”
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