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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian email@example.com
Agua Fria, D-II's Cinderella, upends another high seedFeb 20, 2013
Something clicked after Avondale Agua Fria won a regular season tournament in late December.
Since then, nothing seems to unnerve the short and gutsy team. On Wednesday, Agua Fria took down another higher seeded team in the Division II boys basketball state tournament.
This time, it was the No. 7 seed, Nogales, a team that rallied from a 10-point deficit and took a 9-point lead but just couldn’t stop this year’s Cinderella in D-II at Jobing.com Arena. Agua Fria, the No. 18 seed, advanced to Thursday’s semifinals with a 69-62 win.
The No. 15 and 2 seeds also failed to trip Agua Fria in the tournament.
“The desire is there,” Agua Fria senior forward Alex Solarez said. “This is a team effort. There isn’t one superstar. We are all great.”
Agua Fria (17-12) took the floor on Wednesday wearing the shirts the team earned after winning that December tournament Cactus Shadows hosted.
The squad from Avondale doesn’t dress a player taller than 6-1, but it plays good defense, forces a lot of turnovers and relies on everybody on the floor to contribute. That team approach helped Agua Fria grab a 28-18 lead in the second quarter.
But Nogales finally stopped turning the ball over and moved the ball better in the second quarter, allowing the Southern Arizona team to cut the lead to two heading into halftime. The momentum stayed with Nogales at the start of the third quarter, when it went up 45-36.
But Agua Fria then went on a 13-2 run that helped the team retake the lead for good. That run was highlighted by 3-point play by Isaiah Lopez, who stole an inbounds pass and was then fouled.
Agua Fria made just enough free throws at the end to keep its season alive as the only double digit seeded team remaining in its state tournament. It will face another favorite, Salpointe, in Thursday’s semifinals at Jobing.com Arena.
Solarez used his 220-pound frame to muscle in many of his team-high 20 points on Wednesday, while Aaron Hall (19 points) and Kenaz Beane (14 points) found different ways to hurt Nogales.
Sunnyslope advances to set up showdown with Paradise Valley
No. 1 seed Sunnyslope jumped out to a 22-5 lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 23 points in the second quarter, but Sahuaro managed to give Sunnyslope a late scare in Wednesday’s final D-II quarterfinal game at Jobing.com Arena.
Sahuaro shrunk Sunnyslope’s lead to seven points with 33.1 seconds remaining in the game, but Sunnyslope made its free throws at the end to help it walk away with a 59-50 win. The victory helped set up the fourth meeting between Sunnyslope and section foe Paradise Valley this season.
The two squads will meet in Thursday’s semifinals at Jobing.com Arena. Sunnyslope won two of its three previous meetings against No. 4 seed Paradise Valley, but each game was tightly contested.