Phoenix Arizona Lutheran Academy (29-5) needed overtime, a stroke of luck and an unlikely hero to hit a big shot in crunch time.
In topping Scottsdale Prep (27-4) for the second straight year by a score of 49-47, Arizona Lutheran found a way to take advantage of all three en route to its second straight Division IV state title.
Senior Jesse Zwick was the smallest player on an Arizona Lutheran roster with plenty of size.
The 5-foot-9 guard, who switched from basketball to wrestling his junior year, found himself in position to take the biggest shot of his life.
“He wasn’t very good on offense, he would joke about missing layups,” said Arizona Lutheran coach Doug Meyer. “He’s one of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached. I trusted him with the ball – we all did.”
Box score: Arizona Lutheran 49, Scottsdale Prep 47 (OT)
With 9.8 seconds to go, and his team trailing by two in a frenzied final minute of regulation, Zwick caught the Prescott Events Center crowd off guard with a jumper just inside the free-throw line to tie the game at 41.
“Honestly, that shot was kind of a panic,” Zwick said. “I was looking to kick it to somebody else, but nobody was open. I just threw up a prayer, and God was with us, and he let it go in.”
Arizona Lutheran power forward Brady Cook struggled to get a shot early, starting out just one for five after being held scoreless for the first six minutes of the first quarter.
He was forced to play with his back to the basket to create open looks despite his height advantage, and eventually settled in with eight first-half points.
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“They’re a great team, but they’re missing some size inside,” Meyer said. “We need to keep going to the rim, regardless of whether or not it worked early.”
Scottsdale Prep’s star guard Ben Arqueros became more assertive after mostly acting as a facilitator for his teammates in the first quarter.
Arizona Lutheran went on a 8-0 run to take its first lead with Arqueros on the bench.
When Arqueros re-entered, he hit back-to-back three pointers from the left elbow to put Scottsdale Prep in front 17-16 with under four minutes to play in the half.
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Then, behind the shooting touch of Brock Petty and Lybbert, Scottsdale Prep surged ahead on a 7-0 run to close out the half leading 23-16.
Cook finished with 23 points, but it was the clutch shooting of guards Josiah Weinstein and Timmy Lastrange that put Arizona Lutheran back within striking distance and eventually tied the game at 36 with three and a half minutes to go.
Arizona Lutheran increased its postseason winning streak over Scottsdale Prep to three games after wins in the 2013 semifinals and the 2014 state championship game.
Photos: 2015 high school boys basketball state tournament
Corona del Sol celebrates their win over Desert Vista in their Division I boys basketball championship game Monday, March 2, 2015 in Glendale.