The boys from Phoenix St. Mary’s did what they had to do. Now came the most difficult part – waiting to see if their record was good enough to advance to next week’s supersectional basketball tournament for Division I.
With Phoenix Central celebrating its senior night in front of a boisterous, packed home crowd, St. Mary’s spoiled the party with a 68-63 victory on Friday (Feb. 7). The Knights got four free throws from Jon Rivera and two from Marcus Shaver in the final 54 seconds.
St. Mary’s (16-10) had entered the day at No. 24 in power points, but even with the win, there was no guarantee it would reach the postseason. The Knights did not make it but Central (15-10) did after entering the day at No. 20.
“We did a great job, especially when it was in a hostile environment,’’ said St. Mary’s coach Ty Amudsen. “If we lost, we probably were out. It’s confusing to try to figure out the tiebreakers because there were four or five teams with the same (power-points) record.’’
The supersectional pairings were released late Friday night.
Shaver, a freshman sensation at point guard, led the Knights with 21 points. Rivera, a junior guard, finished with 15 points and junior forward Austin Escobedo scored 13. Escobedo also was a workhorse on the boards.
Central got a spectacular effort from junior forward Famoun Miller, who scored 25 points. Hatcher Day scored 15 and Antonio Love had 11.
Central trailed 49-45 when Day drilled a 3-pointer and Miller came up with the play of the night. He leaped into the air, threw the ball back over his head and into the basket and got fouled, completing a 3-point play with 6:25 left in the game for a 51-49 Central lead.
St. Mary’s later regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Nate Anaya, but Central kept coming back to tie it in the ensuing moments.
Shaver hit a driving shot for a 60-58 St. Mary’s lead. Miller was then whistled for a charging foul and the Knights added to their lead when Escobedo scored off the fast break.
Central stayed close, pulling to within 65-63 on a 3-pointer by Day with 20 seconds left. The Bobcats would not score again, and Rivera hit three of four free throws in the final 17 seconds to ice it for the Knights.
“We talked about two things for this game – attitude and effort. We fought all the way to the end,’’ Amundsen said.