PRESCOTT VALLEY – After trailing for most of the second half, No. 1 Joy Christian’s chances of overcoming No. 20 Tempe Prep started to look a bit doubtful.
But not to Joy Christian junior Cody Nicely.
“You don’t doubt,” Nicely said. “That’s how you lose games.”
And so a hopeful Joy Christian went on a 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter and propel Joy Christian to a 49-46 victory in the Division IV boys basketball tournament semifinal at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Joy Christian will take on No. 3 Arizona Lutheran in the championship game at noon today.
Nicely hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 45 and Joy Christian stole the ball three times on Tempe Prep’s next three possessions. With Joy Christian up 49-46 and 4.5 second remaining, Tempe Prep had a chance to tie the game, but Ryan VanDusen’s 3-pointer wouldn’t fall.
“All year long we’ve been able to score points in a hurry,” Joy Christian coach Scott Brown said. “Even on a night when we’re shooting horrendously and nobody’s in a rhythm. That’s the beauty of our kids though. There’s a real belief among them that someone’s going to step up.”, and someone’s going to make that shot.”
Nicely’s big 3-pointer seemed to revive an offense that had been playing dead for two quarters.
After jumping to an early 19-6 lead in the first quarter, Joy Christian struggled offensively in the second and third quarter, making only 4 of 21 shots from the field.
“We’ve just really been struggling with our offense,” Brown said. “We kept trying anything and everything that we thought would give us a spark.”
Tempe Prep took a 41-30 lead going into the fourth quarter before Joy Christian finally made its move.
“(Tempe Prep) all came out and played well,” Nicely said. “We didn’t expect it, and it kind of shocked us, but we played hard at the end.”
Nicely had eight points and two key fourth-quarter steals for Joy Christian. Friday. Jeremiah April finished the day with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Joy Zwemke had 14 points for Tempe Prep, and Sam Sprout scored 11 off the bench.