Glendale Apollo isn’t quite ready to give up its title as state boys basketball champion.
The Hawks advanced to the 4A Division I final with a 63-62 victory over Phoenix Pinnacle Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
It was defensive play in the final 1:30 that keyed the win for the Hawks (25-6), who will go after their third straight title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Jobing.com Arena.
Apollo forced Pinnacle into three turnovers in the final minutes. The Hawks turned those turnovers into points and allowed them to run time off the clock.
“We never gave up on the defensive end of the floor,’’ Apollo coach Mark Nold said.
Leading 60-57, Apollo’s Prince Amukamara stole the ball and raced in for an easy layup. Another steal by T.J. Madrid kept the ball out of the Pioneers’ hands, forcing them to foul.
Once they got the ball, the Pioneers got a free throw from Nino Muandumba. Tony Furtado rebounded the second free throw attempt and scored to cut the Hawks’ lead to 62-60 with 40 seconds left.
A free throw by Shayar Lee upped the lead to 63-60 with 25 seconds to play. Lee, who didn’t play much in the first half because of foul trouble, was huge in the fourth quarter scoring 11 of his team-high 22 points.
“We had a hand in his face and he made some tough shots,’’ Pinnacle coach Charlie Wilde said.
Amukamara had 18 points and Brad Wespieser 10 for Apollo.
A 3-pointer would have tied the game for Pinnacle, but the Pioneers elected to take the ball to the basket. Furtado, who had 12 points, rebounded the miss and scored to cut the lead to 63-62.
Lee was again fouled and missed the front end of the one-and-one. Furtado rebounded the miss with seven seconds left, took one dribble and had the ball stolen by Madrid. Madrid passed the ball to Amukamara who dribbled out the clock.
Using a bruising inside game and some timely last-second shooting, Pinnacle (23-8) stayed close to Apollo, but had only two leads in the game, both coming in the fourth quarter. Taylor Rohde had a game-high 25 points, 11 coming in the third quarter when the Pioneers turned a nine-point deficit into a 46-46 tie at the end of three quarters.