February 26, 2005
For a memorable group of seniors, it’s down to one final game together.
Scottsdale Christian Academy continued its march to defend its 2A boys state basketball championship with a 63-47 semifinal win over Yuma Catholic on Friday at Glendale Arena.
Nine Eagles (30-2) will take the floor for the final time together at 4 p.m. today when they face Phoenix Arizona Lutheran in the title game.
Scottsdale Christian beat Arizona Lutheran 59-53 on Jan. 28.
“Being able to win two state championships in four years of high school, that’s a big chance," said one of those nine seniors, guard Richard Ramsay. “Emotions are flying, we’re all getting excited, and it’s just a great chance that we have."
Many of the seniors on this year's team didn’t see much playing time in the semifinals, but the four seniors on the floor and junior Kevin Coble, who had a game-high 21 points, made sure they would all suit up one more time.
This group has carried the program through a reloading process after winning back-to-back state titles in 1999-2000. At the forefront of that movement has been Tim Maiden, Chris Osborn, Nkem Ojougboh and Ramsay, who all contributed in a major way to Friday’s win.
“The journey has been awesome," said Osborn, who had nine points. “This year we’re a lot closer, so it’s like a family out there winning, instead of just a basketball team."
Yuma Catholic was able to limit the amount of inside shots the bigger Eagles got. Scottsdale Christian was unable to find open shots inside for the 6-foot-9 Ojougboh, 6-7 Osborn and 6-7 Coble, so they settled for outside shots and found themselves trailing 13-12 after one quarter.
But Ramsay, the blue-collar worker in a group of blue-chip players, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and then hit another 3 that put the Eagles up 27-19 with two minutes left in the first half.
"Richie Ramsay was a show out there tonight," Scottsdale Christian coach Bob Fredericks said of his senior, who is missing his left arm below the elbow. "He is an amazing kid, an amazing story, and he was the one that sparked us."
Maiden added a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter, and the Eagles held a 33-21 edge at halftime. Yuma Catholic cut the lead to nine points just once in the second half.
Maiden finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Ojougboh had seven points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Yuma Catholic (26-7) was led by Eric Cuen’s 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Maiden and Ojougboh will head off together to the University of Texas-San Antonio, while Osborn will move on to the Air Force Academy next season.
For them, and fellow seniors Ben Debenedetto, Seth Rutt, Daniel Wallace, Jeff Hopkins and Jeff Nelson, the perfect ending to a memorable four years together would be a victory today.