OK, name the two teams not to lose a power point game in Division I boys basketball this season.
If you guessed Tempe Corona del Sol, well, no duh. The family dog could have gotten that one. But can you guess the second team? Hint: It secured a place in the semifinals with an impressive 75-59 victory over Phoenix St. Mary’s on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
That’s right, Scottsdale Chaparral finished the regular season 18-0 in games that determine the power rankings. Not that anyone noticed. Corona has gotten so much attention – and rightly so – that every other team in Division I has pretty much gone about its business in secret.
“All we’re trying to do is put ourselves in position to be successful,” coach Dan Peterson said. “I know there are a lot of talented teams out there but I feel like I have guys in the locker room I can go to battle with.”
Chaparral’s victory Wednesday wasn’t surprising, even though it was the No. 5 seed and St. Mary’s was No. 4. But the totality of the win should open some eyes. Chaparral was unselfish offensively, tough defensively and answered every run St. Mary’s made. There was one short stretch in the second half when Chaparral lost its composure and turned the ball over three straight times, but a senior class that includes four starters never let the game get out of control.
“What I’ve got, I’ve got a senior class that doesn’t stop,” Peterson said. “They fight and lead on and off the floor. When you do that, you can bring a lot of people alongside you. So when it got tough … the seniors really stepped up and said, ‘Guys, we got this.’ “
Senior guard Kenzo Nudo, a Grand Canyon signee, poured in 26 points but Chaparral’s most important player was point guard Brendan Hoffer, who ran the team brilliantly while also at times defending St. Mary’s star guard Marcus Shaver.
Shaver scored 25 points but he was just 10 of 27 from the floor.
“He’s tough, he’s got a physical body, he knows the game and sees the floor,” Peterson said of Hoffer.
Not a whole lot else you want from your point guard.
As Chaparral walked toward its locker room, senior forward Ryan Bayster was stopped by two reporters. A year ago, Bayster missed the playoffs – Chaparral lost in the second round to Gilbert – while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Playing without a brace Wednesday, he dominated inside, scoring 22 points and grabbing every rebound Chaparral had to have.
“Him going down hurt us in the playoffs because we didn’t have a big, physical guy to match up with,” Peterson said. “We knew coming back he was going to be a difference maker. He clears the glass, the plays strong and he has a passion for the game. It becomes contagious for all the guys.”