PRESCOTT VALLEY — The recently renovated gym at Chandler Valley Christian is pretty impressive, but the environment is nothing like what the boys basketball team faced Wednesday.
“Nothing close,” center T.J. Widner said.
The No. 2 seed played No. 10 Tuba City at Tim’s Toyota Center in front of an electrifying opposing crowd that took up a large portion of the venue that holds just more than 5,000.
Despite the distraction of the boisterous crowd, Valley Christian stayed focus enough to fend off a late surge by Tuba City and sneak away with a 54-49 victory in the Division III boys basketball quarterfinals.
Valley Christian will face No. 3 Yuma Catholic on Friday at Jobing.com Arena.
“I don’t really even think it hurt us so much,” Widner said of the large crowd. “I think it made the game a little more fun.”
It wasn’t just Tuba City’s crowd Valley Christian had to worry about though, it was the No. 10 seed’s scrappy defense and the team’s never-say-die approach to the game.
“We saw what they did to Scottsdale (Christian Academy in the the second round of the state tournament) so we were prepared for a dog fight,” Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma said.
After a slow start, Valley Christian outscored Tuba City 16-5 in the second quarter and took a 27-20 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t have a great first quarter and we didn’t play our best so getting that lead going into halftime was huge,” Widner said.
Tuba City just wouldn’t go away, though. Things remained tight throughout the second half and Tuba City pulled within two points with 1:26 to go. A couple of late baskets by Widner, successful free throw shooting and two late turnovers by Tuba City helped end the crowd’s hopes of an upset.
Valley Christian’s offensive effort was led by Widner who had 17 points, including 11 in the second quarter. Also stepping up for Valley Christian was Brandon Haagsma who had 14 points and Cory Kasperson who finished with 13.
Greg Haagsma said he was happy his players got to experience a game this big in front of a crowd so intense.
“These are memories our kids have and they’re never going to forget,” he said.