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Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunnyslope boys storm from behind to edge Shadow Mtn.Jan 15, 2013
“We weren’t sitting too pretty, that’s for sure.’’
It was a definite understatement by Phoenix Sunnyslope boys basketball coach Ray Portela in assessing his team’s predicament midway through the third quarter on Tuesday night (Jan. 15), when it trailed host Phoenix Shadow Mountain by 14 points.
The Vikings had cut it to five with 1:17 left in the third. Shadow Mountain recovered to lead by 10 entering the fourth.
Shadow still maintained a five-point edge with about four minutes left in the game, but Sunnyslope wouldn’t fold.
The heroes were many as the Vikings stormed back, took the lead and held on to stun the Matadors 56-54.
Shadow Mountain, No. 2 in the Division II power seedings entering this week, fell to 18-3 and Sunnyslope, in the No. 6 slot, climbed to 18-3.
“These kids work hard, and they just won’t quit,’’ Portela said. “Shadow Mountain is a great ballclub, but we didn’t quit.’’
A week earlier, Sunnyslope went into Phoenix Paradise Valley’s gym and took the high-powered Trojans to double overtime before falling 59-52. Despite the setback, the Vikings gained some confidence and turned around to defeat PV 51-45 on Friday night (Jan. 11).
“If we have that confidence, we are capable of playing with anyone,’’ Portela said.
Michael Humphrey, Sunnyslope’s 6-foot-7 junior post man, was having a solid game but went down with a twisted ankle with 5:32 left in the third and did not return.
Cody Bergcamp, a 6-3 senior, stepped in to pick up the slack and did a solid job with five of his nine points in the fourth quarter, along with grabbing several key rebounds.
Weston Charles, a senior wing man who has been up and down in regard to playing time, also played a huge role in the fourth quarter with nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Point guard Navareio Holmes finished with 13 points, including 11 in the second half and six in the fourth quarter, when Sunnyslope outscored Shadow Mountain 24-12.
Shadow Mountain had a chance to tie it with 31.2 seconds left on a basket with a free-throw attempt, but the foul shot didn’t go in.
The Matadors stepped to the line again with a chance to tie with 17.3 seconds left, but only made 1 of 2 attempts.
Charles made one of two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to make it 56-54. Shadow Mountain rebounded the second, but misfired on a desperation 2-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it.
Carlos Johnson, one of three freshman starters for Shadow Mountain, led his team with 15 points and senior Keegan Hansen had 10.
Portela additionally gave credit to his assistants, including Dan Mannix, who was the long-time Sunnyslope coach and coached Portela there nearly 20 years ago.
“They all do a great job. We have a good mix of guys who have been around awhile and some younger guys, too,’’ Portela said.
Sunnyslope has another challenge on Friday night (Jan. 18) when it travels to Phoenix Greenway, which was seeded No. 9 to begin the week. The Vikings have four regular-season games left after that, including a Jan. 29 rematch with Shadow Mountain at Sunnyslope.
Shadow Mountain’s path is a bit more difficult. Five of the Matadors’ final six games are on the road, including Wednesday night (Jan. 16) at Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and Friday night at Cave Creek Cactus Shadows.