Scottsdale Prep won 26 games before Friday’s game against Baboquivari — most of them in convincing fashion and by double-digit margins.
The narrative didn’t change much, as the Section IV champions dominated in a 73-30 win to advance to the Division IV boys basketball state title game against Arizona Lutheran at 1 p.m. Saturday.
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“We’ve lost to them the last two years in the state playoffs,” Scottsdale Prep head coach Chad Clum said. “We lost our best post players, but they’ve got to match up with five guards. Primarily, we’ll help and rotate and try to play the best help defense we can. We just want to keep (Brady Cook) off the boards.”
As aggressive as Scottsdale Prep was running the break, they displayed patience in half-court sets, swinging the ball around the arc and waiting for Baboquivari to send an extra defender to pressure the perimeter, creating an opening inside.
“We can run, we like to run,” Clum said. “If a team wants to run with us — good luck.”
Scottsdale Prep took an 18-7 lead after one quarter, and then stepped on the gas, going on to score 31 points in the second half and allowing just nine.
Scottsdale Prep senior guard Ben Arqueros, the state leader in assists per game, hit a deep three a few steps inside of half-court, and put his team ahead 36-14 with three minutes to go in the first half.
“He really takes pride in making the game easy for his teammates,” Clum said. “He’s our engine that makes us go.”
With just seconds to go in the half, Arqueros found an open teammate under the basket on an inbounds pass standing on the far side of the midcourt line to take a 42-20 lead at halftime.
“I have, I think, the greatest teammates in the state,” Arqueros said. “They make my job easy.”
The offensive onslaught continued in the second half, with junior guard Dan Lybbert burying one of many Scottsdale Prep 3-pointers.
“We’re undersized compared to most teams, so running has always been an advantage,” Arqueros said. “We’re a hard-working team, and I think we deserve to be where we’re at.”
Baboquivari had trouble containing Arqueros and the high-octane Scottsdale Prep offense, but struggled even more to put up points of its own.
“The last two games I’ve seem them play the best two defensive games I’ve seen,” Clum said. “I really don’t know who they are. But they’re really focused, and I’m proud of them.”
At the end of the third quarter with Scottsdale Prep ahead 65-26, Arqueros and the rest of the starters watched from the bench as the team coasted to its 27th win of the season.
Corona del Sol’s Marvin Bagley III wins the tip over Chaparral’s Ryan Bayster at GCU Arena in Phoenix, AZ on February 28, 2015.