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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Poston Butte boys hoops wakes up in 3rd to topple Higley

Nov 27, 2012

Poston Butte's boys basketball team stormed out of the gate last week with five victories and the championship of the Catalina Hardwood Classic in Tucson. Included in that batch of triumphs were wins over highly-touted Division I Dobson and Basha.

So when the Broncos took the floor Tuesday night to face rebuilding Higley in Higley's season-opener it had the feel of a mismatch. That turned out partly true.

After Higley played Poston Butte virtually even the first half, the Broncos wasted little time in the second half resuming their good fortune and  posted a 68-48 victory over the host Knights in a Division II contest.

"They were the most physical team we played so far and I don't think we were prepared for that," Poston Butte coach Noel Nafziger said. "As bad as we played the first half and as good as they played we were still ahead at halftime (25-22). We finally got untracked in the third quarter."

Poston Butte outscored Higley 18-2 in the first six minutes of the third quarter with defense and a combination of turnovers and cold shooting from Higley. Higley turned the ball over six times in that stretch, was 0-5 from the field and had its big man, 6-foot-4 post Quinn Bailey, ejected for a foul and technical back-to-back with 3:42 left in the third period. By that time Poston Butte's lead had mushroomed to 41-22. By midway through the final quarter the Broncos were up 63-34. Poston Butte was 9-of-11 from the field in the third period and closed the stanza outscoring Higley, 26-4.

"We played well defensively the first half, but we seemed to get complacent on offense in the third quarter," Higley coach Eric Magana said. "We did a good job getting out on the high screens to prevent their guards from good looks and shots. The third quarter we weren't patient on offense. We got out of character."

Not uncommon for a team trying to figure itself out from the beginningof the year  with two starters back and a bunch of other players hungry for playing time. Higley played 11 players in the first half.

As usual for Poston Butte it was the duo of Jalen Richard and Kyle Davis that led the way offensively. Richard finished with 22 points, 12 in the second half. He only got off four shots in the first half. Davis added 17 points -- nine in the first half and eight in the third quarter. The rest of the Broncos starters chipped in with Parker Anderson (9 points), Kaeleb Franken (8 points) and Josh Garcia (7 seven points).

Bailey, an outstanding lineman in football, had six points and was supplying much of the physical play that Poston Butte felt during the night. His loss was felt after he was ejected. But Poston Butte played so well in the quarter it may night have mattered much.

Kenny Jean-Pierre led Higley with 16 points, 10 in the fourth quarter when the game was clearly decided. Mason Johnson came off the bench and finished with 12 points -- nine in the final period.