Coach Ray Portela’s Phoenix Sunnyslope boys basketball team remained unbeaten Wednesday night (Dec. 11), but it didn’t seem like it.
Visiting Scottsdale Chaparral gave the Vikings all they could handle and then some before Sunnyslope escaped with an emotionally draining 60-56 victory.
Sunnyslope climbed to 7-0, while Chaparral slipped to 5-3.
“We didn’t play very well, especially in the first half,’’ Portela said. “We seemed lethargic. We didn’t have a lot of discipline, we didn’t run back, didn’t get back on defense. You have to give Chaparral all the credit in the world. They did a good job of moving the ball around, shooting the ball.’’
Chaparral had a 37-34 lead at halftime in the physical contest with playoff-type intensity. It was tied at 47 after three quarters, and then Sunnyslope’s Michael Humphrey stepped up his game.
He scored six of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed some key rebounds. Senior guard Ari Stern also came through by converting five of six free throws.
“That’s the type of game we want from him (Humphrey),’’ Portela said.
Sunnyslope had four men score in double figures – Humphrey, Sdammy Barnes-Thompkins (14 points) and Stern and Navareio Holmes (11 each).
“We did a better job late in the game,’’ Portela said. “We did what we had to do, tightened the screws (defensively).’’
Playing against Chaparral always is a challenge, Portela added.
“A lot of people from both schools know each other. They always seem to give us a good game,’’ he said.
Coach Dan Peterson’s Firebirds are constantly in motion, with and without the ball. They usually get good position defensively and often reach in at just the right moment to knock the ball away.
Chaparral had three players score in double figures. Senior Shane Cooper led the way with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. Junior Kenzo Nudo had 12 and junior Ryan Bayster had 10.