There was plenty of offense in spurts in Saturday night's second semfiinal game between Brophy Prep and Desert Ridge at the McClintiock Holiday Shootout. The one player able to sustain an offensive thrust throughout, however, was Desert Ridge's Hunter Thomas
Thomas poured in 36 points -- 22 in the middle periods -- to help Desert Ridge rally past Brophy, 84-77, at Doc Zinke Gym at McClintock High School.
Desert Ridge improved to 10-3 and is set for a tournament-title rematch with Perry on Monday night at 7 at McClintock. Perry (13-1) reached the finals with an easy 63-42 victory over Mountain Ridge. Desert Ridge and Perry met back on Nov. 30 in the championship of the Paradise Valley Invitational. Perry won that game, 60-58.
Thomas, a 6-foot-3 senior, mostly bobbed and weaved his way to his three dozen points. He did sink one 3 and gave a lesson in following one's own shot by scoring on follows three times. One of those late in the third period, when Desert Ridge was finally able to overtake Brophy after playing catch-up for almost three stanzas, came on his fourth tip of his initial shot.
Brophy (8-5), which got 23 points off the bench from Max Kufel, started fast with 7-0 and 13-3 leads in the first period. Brophy led at halftime, 45-40. The Broncos were kick-started by guard Mason Zwillinger, who scored all 11 of his points in the first 12 minutes of the game. Guard Romano Bottini scored all 11 of his points in the first half, making three of Brophy's 8 3s in the opening half.
Brophy center Fred Erlandson caused Desert Ridge plenty of pain in the first half, killing them in the paint for 10 of his 11 points. Kufel kept Brophy in the game in the fourth period when Desert Ridge's rally had boosted the Jaguars to a lead of 69-63 with 6:08 to play. Kufel tallied 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Kufel's teammate Matt Stark scored his only basket of the game with 3:54 to play and it tied the game a final time at 73 with 3:07 left. Thomas took 20 seconds to put Desert Ridge ahead to stay with one of his slithering moves to the hoop for two. He made it 77-73 with the final putback of his own miss with 2:16 to play. Sophomore Teddy Allen, who had a good night himself with 20 points for Desert Ridge made four of the Jaguars' seven free throws in the final 97 seconds to punch their tourney final ticket. Desert Ridge's Dean Spitzer made four 3s and contributed 16 points to the win.
In the other semifinal, Perry used a 15-2 first-quarter edge to wear down Mountain Ridge and send the Mountain LIons to the tourney's third-place game on Monday (Dec. 30) at 5:30 p.m. against Brophy. Freshman Markus Howard paced Perry with 16 points and older brother Jordan, added 12 points. Perry used its entire bench and 11 players ended up scoring. Chris Manni led Mountain Ridge (4-8) with 13 points.