The Valley Christian boys basketball team claimed the Division III, Section III championship with a hard-fought 50-46 win over North Pointe Saturday night at Surprise Valley Vista High School.
Valley Christian enters the Division III state tournament as the No. 9 seed and will host Camp Verde in a first-round matchup on Tuesday.
"It helps us a lot to win a close game," Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma said. "We've lost a lot of close games in the last two months."
The key moment of the game was TJ Widner's layup with 1:45 left that broke a 44-44 tie. He was also fouled, but couldn't convert to make it a three-point play. Free throws from Dustin Nelson and Alec Chavez gave the Trojans a four-point lead with 30 seconds to go.
After a pair of North Pointe free throws, the Trojans were called for travelling and gave North Pointe a chance to take the lead. North Pointe's Manny Rowe missed a shot from in close and committed a foul. Austin Elmer sunk both of the ensuing free throws for the Trojans with 3.6 seconds left to ice the win.
"All the matchups are tough at this time of year," Haagsma said. "We really refocused and committed to our defensive end."
Valley Christian (16-11) trailed by as many as seven in the third quarter before closing it with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 40 going into the fourth quarter.
Brock Temple keyed the Trojan win with 12 points on four three-pointers. Collin Weaver had 23 points in the losing effort for 19-10 North Pointe.
"We told our guys this is what we wanted," Haagsma said. "This sectional title means so much being the first one."