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Wed, May 22

Prep Basketball: Tigers prove no one should overlook them in 3A Conference

Aden Dunton and six other seniors played their final basketball game for Kingman Academy Saturday night in the second round of the 3A State Championship. The Tigers went 11-5 overall and 7-3 in their first year in the 3A West Region. (Daily Miner file photo)

Aden Dunton and six other seniors played their final basketball game for Kingman Academy Saturday night in the second round of the 3A State Championship. The Tigers went 11-5 overall and 7-3 in their first year in the 3A West Region. (Daily Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – There was no telling how the 2018-19 season would unfold for the Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team, especially with it being the first year in the 3A West Region.

But now it’s safe to say the Tigers exceeded expectations by advancing to the second round of the 3A State Championship.

“We did an excellent job of showing that we belong in 3A,” said Academy head coach William McDavid. “The group of seniors have done a wonderful job for me the last two years and the two years prior to me of preparing for that moment. And they did a wonderful job to get themselves there.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers’ great run came to an end Saturday night with a 66-56 loss to No. 2 Valley Christian at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

While some setbacks can be emotional once the final buzzer goes off, Academy made sure to come to terms with it before that happened.

“There was a moment about the 1:38 mark, where in my mind, we were down 10 and I kind of knew, ‘This is going to be the end,’” McDavid said. “‘There’s not much we can do at this point. Let’s play it out and play strong.’ I kind of looked at their eyes and they felt that same thing. That we may have lost this one, but we’re going to continue to battle through the rest of the game.”

And once the game was over, McDavid said all the emotions were out and the Tigers were ready to reflect on all they accomplished.

“We felt confident in our play that day,” he said “We felt good about our season.”

Academy did a good job of showing it could compete with the Trojans as it only trailed 19-18 after the first quarter.

But the game quickly shifted in Valley Christian’s favor.

“That second quarter kind of hurt us a little bit – they had a little bit of momentum,” McDavid said. “Aden (Dunton) did a wonderful job of shooting in that second quarter to help keep us in it. As the second half progressed with it staying right about 7-10 points, we felt really good. We never felt we were out of the game at all.”

But now it’s time to close the book on this season and shift the focus to next year.

The Tigers will have their work cut out for them without Dunton, Bridger Bodily, Tyler Chinyere, Nate Perea, Trey Skubal, Grant Stryker and Stevie Wusstig, but the next man is waiting to step up.

“We have two juniors specifically coming back in Wyatt Hall and Connor Alleman,” McDavid said. “Wyatt produced a lot for us this year. Connor’s best days are a year ahead of him. We’re looking forward to what they’re going to do for us. And they recognize the offseason starts today.”

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