Badgers Rally Big Time In Win Over Salpointe Catholic 61-54 : Prescott advances to quarterfinals

Photo: 1 Uriah Tenette shoots over 3 Canyon Torres for two of his 23 points

The Prescott Badgers put together a thrilling fourth quarter comeback rally to beat the Salpointe Catholic Lancers 61-54, in the Badger Dome. In the first home boys’ basketball playoff in 26 years, it started off like the Badgers needed a jump start from the cold weather outside.

“Things started off rocky for sure, going down 11 at halftime, but the way it turned out, that was awesome.” said coach Travis Stedman. It turns out that there was a very good reason for that. “We had players not feeling well off and on all week, and we had a snow day yesterday and didn’t even get in a practice earlier today. I am surprised we had enough energy left to make it all the way back tonight.”

Photo: 4 Jake Hilton splits the defenders 33 Bobby Smith and 13 Pasha Shemirani for a first quarter bucket

The Badgers took the lead at the start when Jake Hilton’s baseline drive went down. The Lancers took their first lead 7-5, on a layup by Canyon Torres with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Uriah Tenette’s difficult jumper over Torres just inside the free throw line tied things back up. Prescott’s offense then lost its mojo with missed shot possessions, and very uncharacteristic unforced errors.

Torres nailed a three to start at 9-0 run that went into the second quarter. Tenette made his first two of his eleven free throws to trim the deficit to 16-9 with 6:27 left in second quarter.

A steal and score by Joey Castillo led to another run of 6-0 to give the Lancers a 22-9 lead with 3:37 remaining in the half, forcing Prescott to call a much needed timeout. As the shocked home crowd couldn’t believe what they were seeing, the Badgers finally began to thaw out. Tenette knocked down another pair of free throws, and Jake Hilton banked a shot in to cut the Salpointe lead to 22-13. As bad as the Badgers looked in the first half, it ended well. Trailing 28-13 with 13 seconds left, Zane Gaul and Jake Hilton came up with a pair of huge free throws each to cut the deficit to 28-17 at the half. “Those four points were big for us. It made us feel like we had finally turned the corner. We just needed to come out strong in the second half, and that’s what we did,” said Stedman.

Cooper Magnett fed Hilton under the basket to get the Badgers to within single digits at 28-19 as the third quarter got underway. Pasha Shemirani came to life in the paint, scoring the next eight points for Salpointe. Rome Bassett knocked down the only Prescott three of the night, banking the shot in, and cutting the Lancers lead to 30-22. The Badgers kept chipping away and when Jake Hilton slammed one down, Prescott was within 32-26. Shemirani’s three point play pushed the lead to 35-26, and another free throw a minute later upped the lead back to double digits, 36-26.

Tenette hit another pair of free throws with a minute left in the third, but Danel Bruner’s baseline drive kept the lead at ten. Andrew Lyon closed out the quarter with a pair of free throws, with the Badgers still trailing 38-30, but definitely in striking distance.

Photo: 10 Zane Gaul goes up for a shot over 13 Pasha Shemirani

The fourth quarter was way different than the first three as Prescott fully woke up and played to their abilities. Free throws were crucial, and after three consecutive misses by the Lancers, the Badgers came alive when Ben Dutson’s rebound basket, plus the foul, made it 38-33. Dutson missed the free throw, but Zane Gaul slid around Shemairani for the rebound basket, and just like that it was 38-35. Dustson said, “I saw Cooper setting up for the shot in the corner and got into position. They didn’t box me out, and I was just right there to make a play. Then Zane followed my miss, and I knew we were right in this.”

The Lancers responded, keeping the lead from three to seven points. Zane Gaul finally tied the game at 48 with 3:24 left and with a free throw, Prescott had their first lead, 49-48 since early in the first quarter. A three by Del Bosque put Salpointe back on top 51-49. Then a steal and basket by Niyonkuru Jonas put the Badgers in a hole again at 53-49. Jake Hilton’s drive to the basket began a 15-1 game ending run, pulling Prescott to within two, 53-51. The Badgers full court pressure paid off on the inbounding turnover giving the ball back to Prescott. Zane Gaul would tie the game at 53 a short time later. Gaul’s pass in the lane to Magnett cutting to the hoop gave the home team the lead for good. Salpointe picked up a free throw, and that would be as close as they would get, 55-54. Tenette would score the final six points on a jumper, a layup, and a pair of free throws to finish the night off. The win sends the Badgers into the 4A quarterfinals to face Mesquite.

Jake Hilton, who scored 15 points, said, “It was a battle. We did not come out and play very good from the start. Coach made a great halftime speech and got us ready to play Badger basketball in the second half.”

Gaul finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, said, “This was something new for us, and definitely a learning experience. They (the officials) let us play again tonight. Another battle for us, but we stuck with it, and kept on fighting to get back it.”

Tenette, who led all scorers with 23, including perfection from the free throw line, said, “This was a big win for us, and the first home game in 25 years. We just battled back. We knew that we are a lot better than the way we were playing. Coach got after us at halftime and we came out and played a lot better.”

The Badgers (21-3) will host Mesquite on Wednesday at 7 pm. Salpointe Catholic ends their season at (15-13).



SALPOINTE CATHOLIC (54)-Bruner 1 0-0 2, Torres 5 1-2 13, Del Bosque 4 0-0 11, Jonas 1 2-3 4, Shemirani 4 2-3 11, Smith 4 0-0 9, Castillo 1 2-2 4. 20 7-10 54

PRESCOTT (61)-Magnett2 0-0 4, Tenette 6 11-11 23, Bassett 1 0-0 3, Hilton 6 3-4 15, Gaul 5 4-5 14, Buettner 0 0-0 0, Lyon 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Dutson 1 0-1 2, Smith 0 0-0 0, Bernardo 0 2-2 2, Peoples 0 0-0 0. 21 18-21 64.

Score by Quarters-     1      2      3      4    –   T

Salpointe Catholic     13   15    10    16   –  54

Prescott                        7    10    13    31   –  61

Total Fouls-SP 17 , P 14

Fouled Out-None

Three Pointers-SP (7)Del Bosque 3, Torres 2, Shemirani 1, Smith 1, P(1)-Bassett 1.



#4 PRESCOTT 61, #13 Salpointe Catholic 54

#3 Bradshaw Mountain 54, #14 Coconino 38

#5 Mesquite 84, #12 Thunderbird 55

#1 ALA-Gilbert North 63, #16 Paradise Honors 49

#2 Peoria 78, #15 Seton Catholic Prep 50

#10 Dysart 64, #7 Sahuaro 61

#8 Deer Valley 70, #9 Mica Mountain 60

#6 Cactus 63, #11 Pueblo 52


QUARTERFINALS-Wednesday, February 22 at 7 pm

#5 Mesquite (20-8) at #4 PRESCOTT (21-3)

#6 Cactus (22-5) at #3 Bradshaw Mountain (23-4)

#10 Dysart (22-6) at #2 Peoria (25-4)

#8 Deer Valley (20-7) at #1 ALA-Gilbert North (27-2)

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