February 19, 2005
FLAGSTAFF - It took just one quarter for Higley to dig itself a hole it could never climb out of Friday in the quarterfinals of the 3A boys basketball state tournament at Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff.
Show Low jumped all over the cold-shooting Knights, building a 17-7 first-quarter lead en route to a 58-43 victory that put the Cougars in the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Show Low will take on Tuba City Greyhills in the semifinals at 5:15 p.m. Friday at Glendale Arena.
Higley (20-9) shot just 7-of-19 in the first half, with four of those field goals coming from point guard Mark Gabriella. Higley managed to climb back into the game early in the fourth quarter, cutting Show Low’s cushion to 39-35 with 6:49 to play. From that point on, the Knights hit just one field goal.
"We made a nice run in the second half to get back in it and I think our kids didn’t have the legs to make the shots," said Higley coach Brian Winter. "I know it’s the same for everybody, but the altitude was quite an adjustment for our kids."
After Higley made its run, Show Low turned to Marshall Johnson, who scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the final six minutes. Johnson’s big burst came on successive possessions when he made a floater in the lane and then converted a steal into a layup to give Show Low a 46-36 lead with 4:05 to play.
"Marshall’s a leader on the floor and off, and his athleticism is unparalleled," said Show Low coach Nathan Richardson.
Higley had no solution to Show Low’s 1-3-1 defense, as the Knights went 2-of-17 from 3-point range, with both of those coming from Gabriella, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Show Low’s Ivan Hancock finished with a double-double, 12 points and 12 rebounds. Higley senior Justin Swanson had nine points and 10 rebounds in his final prep game.
For Higley, this season was the first 20-win season in school history and it also got its first state tournament win.
FOUNTAIN HILLS 67, RIVER VALLEY 44:The Falcons ran through the Dust Devils and into a semifinal match against Seton Catholic, the only team to beat them this season. Tyler Ruch scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, as Fountain Hills (29-1) raced to a 46-23 halftime lead. The Falcons and Sentinels will meet Friday at 8:45 p.m. at Glendale Arena.
Pat Keating added a game-high 18 points, Dan Thomas 15, and Martin Ort 10 as the Falcons had four players in double figures. River Valley (20-9) was led by Dusty Alford, who had 11.