Bring on the pressure defense. Chandler Basha don’t mind seeing the full-court, press defense Chandler High tried to force on it Saturday night.
The ninth-seeded Bears advanced to the 5A-I boys basketball semifinals for the first time in their albeit brief history with an 82-61 victory over the Wolves Saturday night. There was no miracle for the 16th-seeded Chandler team in these quarterfinals.
Basha (20-9) will face No. 4 seed Phoenix Desert Vista at 8:45 p.m. Thursday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
It was the fourth straight victory for Basha and by far the easiest. The Bears hadn’t scored more than 53 points in any of those victories. Of course, those teams didn’t try and pressure the Bears like Chandler did.
The Wolves (15-15) failed miserably as Basha converted on many easy baskets.
“I think we’re the best press-break team in the state,’’ Basha coach Brad Pinter said. “We handle pressure well. We knew we had to take care of the basketball.”
It was a landmark game for Pinter personally. Chandler coach Mike Ellsworth gave him his very first basketball coaching job.
The transition offense of the Bears resulted in four players scoring in double figures led by guard Nick Markovich’s 29 points. Blake Nash had 16 points, Tyler Miller scored 13 points and Matt Jones added 10.
Pinter said Markovich, who has recovered from a broken thumb, has found his shooting touch once again. He showed it off in the first quarter with 11 points.
Markovich even stopped in front of the Chandler bench to smile and show the Wolves up after hitting his third 3-pointer in the opening quarter.
Leading 30-20 with five minutes left in the first half, Basha broke open the game by outscoring the Wolves 13-2 to take a 40-22 lead at the half.
An early onslaught in the fourth quarter gave Basha its biggest lead, 74-40, with 4:45 to go.
Sam Dohn had 11 points and Mike Dunn scored 10 points for Chandler.