Sunnyslope clamps down on Sahuaro to advance

Sunnyslope clamps down on Sahuaro to advance

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Sunnyslope clamps down on Sahuaro to advance

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Top-seed Phoenix Sunnyslope got off to a big start, slowed down in the second half, and finally put the clamps down late to hold off Tucson Sahuaro and advance to the Division II boys basketball semifinals with a 59-50 victory Wednesday night at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

Sunnyslope (28-3) advances to play Paradise Valley on Thursday night at 7:45 for the fourth time this season. Sunnyslope has won the past two meetings.

Tucson Sahuaro rallied from a 20-7, first-quarter deficit to beat Scottsdale Saguaro in an earlier round.

It got down 27-7 early in the second quarter to Sunnyslope.

“That helped us,” Sunnyslope coach Ray Portela said of the fast start.

Sunnyslope let up in the second quarter some, but not enough for No.8-seed Sahuaro to stage another incredible comeback.

Sahuaro (22-10) trailed by 16 at the half, by 12 after three quarters and by eight on Jordan Lane’s 3-pointer and two free throws with 2:12 left.

Michael Humphrey, too big and skilled at 6-foot-7, scored on a tip with 1:33 left. He finished with 17 points.

Arthur Gibson scored seven straight points to bring Sahuaro to within 55-50 with seven seconds left.

Sunnyslope point guard Isaiah Cota sank two foul shots with six seconds left. Cota had 19 points.

“They’re a good team,” Portela said. “We saw what they did against Scottsdale Saguaro, battling back.

“We did get a little tentative. We didn’t really attack the rim. We were settling for a lot of 3s. We weren’t really following up enough. We’ve got to do a better job with that.”

Humphrey’s strong start helped Sunnyslope build its big lead. He showed a strong first step to the basket, scoring on short jumpers and drives.

“He did a great job tonight,” Portela said. “They’ve got a good big guy (Gibson) and he really stepped up to the challenge.”

Guard Navareio Holmes added 11 points for Sunnyslope, which has won 11 games in a row. Its last loss was to Paradise Valley 59-52 on Jan. 8.

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Sunnyslope clamps down on Sahuaro to advance
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