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Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Smith's basket at buzzer lifts Cortez boys to victoryDec 18, 2012
It has been about 20 years since Tarik James set most of the boys basketball records at Phoenix Cortez High.
Now he is the Colts’ coach, and he is watching another young man on the verge of eclipsing his records. It is not easy to say goodbye to those numbers, but is something that James is willing to do.
The player’s name is Jorrell Smith, a 5-foot-8 senior guard.
Smith was about as good as it gets on Tuesday night (Dec. 18). He scored from virtually everywhere on the floor, but it was his basket from close range, a leaner in the lane as the buzzer sounded, that gave Cortez a 55-53 road victory over Goodyear Estrella Foothills.
Smith finished with 33 points, 12 in the fourth quarter, and made four 3-pointers as Cortez pushed its record to 11-1. Estrella Foothills slipped to 8-3.
“He (Smith) is a great kid,’’ James said.
It was suggested that Smith’s style of play is reminiscent of Dewayne Russell, who led Peoria to a state title last year, was named The Arizona Republic’s Big School Player of the Year and now is at Northern Arizona University.
“They know each other a little,’’ James said. “Dewayne (about two inches taller) was probably a better defensive player but Jorrell might be better offensively.
Smith’s height might be a drawback, but James said there are junior colleges looking at him and he is hopeful that Smith can land with an NAIA program, perhaps even with an NCAA Division II or Division III school.
Cortez trailed by five points at the end of three quarters and seven early in the fourth as Estrella Foothills’ Gerrit Groenewold hit a pair of free throws with 7:27 left.
Estrella Foothills did not score for nearly the next four minutes as Cortez went on an 11-0 run. Smith scored eight of those points.
Estrella Foothills kept it close after that, tying it at 53 with 47 seconds to go on a basket by Devon Hawkins, who led the Wolves with 22 points.
Cortez missed a shot with 18.3 seconds, and Estrella Foothills called timeout. The Wolves put up a shot from the lane and missed, and Cortez called time. The clock originally said 3.6 seconds, but the officials added another 1.4 seconds back on to make it an even 5 seconds.
The Colts needed the extra time as Smith took the inbounds pass and dribbled close enough to the basket to get the ball to go in. He was mobbed by his teammates along the baseline.
James was elated that his team toughened up its defense in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
“In the first two weeks of the preseason, we didn’t even touch the basketball. It was all about learning to play defense,’’ James said. “These kids aren’t the biggest around, but they have some of the biggest hearts. They know how to respond.’’