There will be a new Division II boys basketball state champion in 2013-14.
Phoenix Arcadia made sure of that on Thursday night (Feb. 20) outhustling defending champ Phoenix Paradise Valley on its own floor for a 60-47 first-round victory.
Arcadia (15-11), the No. 23 seed, advances to the second round on Saturday (Feb. 22) and will travel to face seventh-seeded Lake Havasu. Paradise Valley, seeded No. 10, finished 21-7.
“There’s no pressure on us right now. We have nothing to lose,’’ said Arcadia coach Stephen Danford. “We weren’t sure we were even going to get into the tournament (the top 24 qualify), so we kept on practicing.’’
The practice helped. Arcadia fell 61-59 at PV on Jan. 21, and this time the Titans played more under control.
“We executed much better this time,’’ Danford said. “In the first game, we didn’t execute early in the game and got behind by quite a bit. We came back but fell just short.’’
The Titans had balanced scoring, so PV’s defense could not concentrate on any particular player.
Colin Palecek and Avonte Nelms each scored 13 points and Connor Nichols added 12.
Nelms and Nichols are 6-foot-4 juniors and appear to be interchangeable, and they often appear on the floor together.
“They are very athletic, run the floor, can shoot the ball and are very competitive,’’ Danford said.
Arcadia also offers a glimpse of the future with 6-foot freshman guard Max Moses. He got some key playing time and even connected on a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter. The ball rolled around the rim, appeared as if it might come out but went back in.
“He’s been doing that all year for us, kind of makes me nervous sometimes,’’ Danford said. “I think he is going to be a good one.’’
Paradise Valley obviously doesn’t have the same firepower as it did a year ago with now-graduated stars Paul Watson and Ryan Finley.
The Trojans were led by Jacob Langmeier with 19 points and three other players scored eight – Brandon Williams, Jordan Brown and Cedric Jacobs-Jones.