Blogs / Features
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Salpointe boys carry banner for Tucson into hoops title gameFeb 21, 2013
Tucson Salpointe has its share of players who can put the ball in the basket, but it is defense that has allowed the Lancers to make a big run in the Division II boys’ state tournament.
The biggest step has yet to be taken, but coach Brian Holstrom and his Lancers have the confidence they can achieve their goal of winning a state championship.
Sixth-seeded Salpointe advanced to Saturday’s (Feb. 23) title game with a 53-45 victory over 18th-seeded Avondale Agua Fria at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. Salpointe (23-10) will face No. 1 Phoenix Sunnyslope or No. 4 Phoenix Paradise Valley at noon.
The Salpointe defense forced Agua Fria into a dismal 28.3 percent shooting night from the floor (13 of 46), 19 percent from 3-point range (4 of 21) and 68.2 percent from the free-throw line (15 of 22).
“Defense wins championships,’’ Holstrom said. “We were confident, particularly during the last three minutes, that we could make the stops.’’
Agua Fria scored five points in the last 2:09, but the final bucket was a desperation 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.
“Both teams played pretty good team basketball. Tournament basketball is so fun. You have to be at your best, and I think we are,’’ Holstrom said.
The player who makes the team go is junior point guard Cam Denson.
He handles the ball well and is a good shooter. He led the Lancers with 22 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. He also crashes the boards when necessary. He grabbed nine rebounds, as did Ryan Callaghan, giving Salpointe a 39-31 edge on the glass.
Denson is in his second year as a starter.
Holstrom said he has learned to be a leader.
“He didn’t have that early in the season, but he definitely is a leader now,’’ the coach said. “He played football, and he has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders before, and I think that has helped him out here.’’
Denson, a wide receiver, has made an early commitment to play for the University of Arizona.
Isaiah Lopez led Agua Fria (17-13) with 23 points and Alex Solarez added 14 with nine rebounds.