Prep Basketball: Tigers knock off Yuma Catholic to advance in 3A State Tournament
KINGMAN – Wednesday night was special for a number of reasons.
The Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team was not only looking for its first state tournament victory since 2014, but no matter the result – this would be the final home game for seven seniors.
That group made sure they walked off the court with their heads held high after a 74-58 victory over No. 18 seed Yuma Catholic in the first round of the 3A State Championship at Betty Rowe Gymnasium.
“I’m proud of my brothers,” senior Tyler Chinyere said. “I pick them up and they pick me up just as equally. Tonight it was Aden (Dunton), Stevie (Wusstig) and everyone that came into the game that picked me up. I’m proud of how everyone played.”
Chinyere led the No. 15 seed Tigers with a game-high 28 points, but his classmates also joined in on the fun. Aden Dunton tallied 15 points, followed by Stevie Wusstig with 13 and Trey Skubal with 12 points.
“You can see their chemistry when they all play – whether it’s their no-look passes or whether it’s recognizing they can go help their brother if they need to on defense,” said Academy head coach William McDavid. “That alludes to this – we had a lot of guys get open shots because of what Tyler (Chinyere) does and because of what Nate (Perea) does handling the ball.”
The teamwork was on full display throughout the game as the Tigers made the extra passes to allow a teammate to make the easy basket. The unselfishness paid dividends too, as Academy pulled away for a 37-28 halftime lead.
That advantage quickly increased to 40-28 early in the second half, but the Shamrocks didn’t throw in the towel as they used an 8-0 run to inch within four points, 40-36, with 5:54 remaining.
It appeared the momentum was shifting, but cue Chinyere with a thunderous one-handed dunk to stop Yuma Catholic in its tracks.
“It’s always a momentum builder,” Chinyere said. “The crowd gets into it – we all get into it. We get a little pumped up. It definitely swung in our favor.”
There’s no question it did as the Shamrocks only inched within four points on one more occasion before the Tigers used an 11-2 run to pull away for good.
“We know that we have the energy and the legs to continue going, despite what their best efforts were tonight to stop us,” McDavid said.
The Academy will look to keep it rolling at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when it makes the trip to Phoenix to take on No. 2 seed Valley Christian at Desert Vista High School.
“We just have to practice hard just like the usual,” Chinyere said. “It’s just going to be any other game. We know they’re lengthy, so we have to box out. But we believe we have the skill and athleticism to keep up, if not beat them.”
It will be the first meeting between the two squads and the winner will advance to the quarterfinals against the winner of No. 7 Wickenburg-No. 10 Page. That contest will be at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
“We know we can compete and there’s a reason why we’re No. 15 and not No. 30, 40, 50 or 60,” McDavid said. “On any given night we can take down a giant and that’s the goal on Saturday.”