Point guard Brandon Haagsma made a steal and a layup with 19 seconds left that helped No. 2-seed Chandler Valley Christian defeat 15th-seeded Florence 62-58 on Friday night in the second round of the Division III boys basketball tournament at Phoenix North Canyon High.
“I knew he wasn’t a real good dribbler, so I thought I’d take a chance,” said Haagsma, who had 18 points. “I went for it and was able to get it.”
Valley Christian (21-8) advanced to Wednesday’s 3 p.m. quarterfinal against 10th-seeded Tuba City at Prescott Valley’s Tim’s Toyota Center.
“I’m just glad we don’t have to play them here,” Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma said. “Get them in a big arena.”
Florence (23-10) nearly derailed Valley Christian’s plans after catching fire in the second quarter and building a 37-32 lead with six 3-pointers, three by Bobby Herrera and two by Gavin Wood and another by Alex Lopez.
Valley Christian got the ball into 6-foot-5 senior center T.J. Widner, who had 17 points.
Widner’s ability to rebound kept Florence from getting too many second-chance baskets and helped Valley Christian take a 52-46 lead late in the third quarter when it went on an 11-0 run.
“T.J. was an animal,” Greg Haagsma said. “He rebounded really well. I didn’t think we went to him enough.”
Guard Zach Wolf also gave Valley Christian a lift with short jumpers and tough shots close to the basket. He had 12 points, including a three-point play early in the final quarter that gave Valley Christian a 55-51 lead.
After Wood’s two free throws cut it to 56-55 with 5:15 left, Florence didn’t score again until Wood dribbled away from a defenders and spotted up for a 3 with 47 seconds left that cut it to 60-58.
Florence had a chance to tie or lead, after Valley Christian turned the ball over in the paint. But Haagsma was there near mid-court to make the game-saving steal and layup.
“Gavin Wood is a tremendous player, and I thought we were just watching for a while,” Greg Haagsma said. “We started getting after them.”