Div IV boys basketball: Veritas Prep upsets El Capitan

Div IV boys basketball: Veritas Prep upsets El Capitan

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Div IV boys basketball: Veritas Prep upsets El Capitan

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PRESCOTT VALLEY – It’s not likely a formula any coach would want to follow, but for the second consecutive day, Phoenix Veritas Prep buried itself early only to crawl out and win another pressure cooker.

No. 11 Veritas Prep (18-7) advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division IV boys state basketball tournament with a comeback 47-44 win over No. 6 Colorado City El Capitan at Tim’s Toyota Center. Veritas Prep will play No. 3 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran, a 66-43 winner over Chandler Prep, Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Tim’s Toyota Center.

“We have traditional slow starts,” said Veritas Prep guard and captain Ben King, whose 3-point shot early in the first quarter held up as the only Veritas Prep field goal until the latter stages of the quarter as El Capitan’s Justin Blackmore six points from inside to help El Capitan to a 16-3 lead late in the first quarter and an 18-7 lead after one quarter.

Veritas Prep rallied to outscore El Capitan 17-12 in the second quarter and suffocated El Captain in the third by a 10-2 margin.

“Our defense really stepped it up in the third,” Veritas Prep coach Tom Horyza said. “I knew we could beat them as we’ve got great leadership. (King is) our point guard and leader and he just diffused (El Capitan’s defense).

King and Blackmore shared game’s scoring honors with 20 points apiece. Veritas Prep’s Matthew Zabilski came up with big steals late in the game for the second consecutive game and also scored 13 points, and Michael DeCindis scored 10 for Veritas Prep.

Micah Barlow and Andrew Barlow scored 10 six apiece for El Capitan (14-5).

After a Barlow jumper lifted El Capitan to a 25-13 lead midway through the second quarter, Veritas Prep began to show sings of life. King and DeCindis scored off of consecutive drives and Veritas Prep closed with a DeCindis 3 and two King free throws to keep Veritas close at 30-24.

Veritas Prep’s third quarter was the exact opposite of its first quarter. King, DeCindis and scored on consecutive jumpers to tie the game 30-30 with 4:59 to play in the third. El Capitan than went to a slower, four-corners offense and King scored from inside to lift Veritas Prep to a 34-32 lead after three.

El Capitan remained close and back-to-back Blackmore jumpers cut the Veritas Prep lead to 42-41. From there, Zabilski came up with a steal and King and George Heiler each hit a pair of pressure free throws top open a 47-41 lead with 43 seconds to play.

“As we get further and further we cannot afford to get down 13-3,” said Horyza, whose squad needed a late rally to defeat Flagstaff Northland Prep in Friday’s opening round. “But that was just a showing of our maturity and leadership.”

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