Prep Basketball: Tigers dominate Wickenburg in blowout win
KINGMAN – A tough loss was all the motivation the Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team needed Friday night when it welcomed Wickenburg to town for a 3A West Region showdown.
The Tigers had suffered a two-point setback to the same squad earlier this month, but put that in the rearview mirror with a 72-48 wire-to-wire victory over the Wranglers at Betty Rowe Gymnasium.
“We definitely used that to fuel us today,” senior Tyler Chinyere said of the previous loss to Wickenburg. “We knew we could beat them. We know we’re not supposed to be ranked No. 18 and they’re not supposed to be ranked No. 7. We just played our hearts out.”
And Academy had all the help it needed from a raucous crowd, especially its students who stayed on their feet from the tip-off to the final buzzer.
“There was a lot of energy for us, our ‘Zoo Crew’ did an amazing job hyping us up,” Chinyere said. “Everyone that came out – all the fans that supported us and other schools. I saw Kingman North here. We definitely used that energy not to disappoint them.”
The fans were all smiles as they watched the Tigers quickly grab the momentum with a 20-9 advantage after the first quarter. That margin increased to 41-24 at halftime and a lot of it had to do with Chinyere and Nate Perea’s combined 28 points in the first half.
“They’re our two captains for a reason,” McDavid said of the duo. “They’ve been playing sports together since they were babies … What they provide to us is what we’re going to ride throughout the year.”
Chinyere finished with a game-high 30 points, while Aden Dunton scored 14 and Perea added 13 points. Trey Skubal chipped in eight points on a special night as his brother Tarik had his No. 25 baseball jersey retired during a halftime ceremony.
Overall it was a great night to be a Tiger, especially if you enjoyed high-flying dunks. Chinyere put on a show from start to finish with a number of electrifying slams that provided the fans plenty of reason to cheer.
“I give all the props to my teammates,” Chinyere said. “They put me in that position – getting me to the point where I can go for the alley-oop or the dunk. It’s a team effort.”
The biggest takeaway from the night though was the fact Academy dealt Wickenburg (12-2, 6-1 3A West Region) its first region loss of the year. While it doesn’t guarantee the Tigers a trip to the state tournament, it was still a big program victory.
“That’s the greatest point – we know that this is a great team, a well-coached team and a well-balanced team,” Academy head coach William McDavid said of Wickenburg. “We wanted to make a statement – we may be new to 3A, we may be one of the small schools in our region, but we come out battling every single time. Our boys put on a show today. They enjoyed themselves and we hope you all did as well.”
Academy (8-4, 4-2 3A West Region) is on the road at 7 p.m. Tuesday against No. 30 ranked River Valley (5-9, 2-5).