Perry coach Joe Babinski looked at his team's sluggish offensive start and a six-point halftime lead and didn't bat an eye.
Not even with his top two players held to three points each.
"I knew they were going to score. They're scorers," Babinski said after the Pumas finally pulled away from Red Mountain in the fourth quarter for a 63-45 second-round victory in the Division I state tournament at Perry.
"Eventually we knew we'd hit some shots."
Freshman Markus Howard scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, when fourth-seeded Pumas outscored 13th-seeded Red Mountain 25-14.
"We didn't play our best but we came through and we know we have to pick it because there are tougher games ahead of us," Howard said.
Perry will have fifth-seeded Phoenix Sunnyslope in the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena.
"I think a lot of it was the pressure," Babinski said of his team's slow start after getting a first-round bye and not playing in a week. "We're the ones that are supposed to (win) and they're not supposed to. They play good defense. They bump with you; they're scrappy. They like to make the game ugly and they did make it ugly there for a while."
"We shot a little tight," Babinski added. "But as the game got going we hit a few shots got happy and it was a good game. The thing that was consistent was our defense. We were getting stops we were just missing on the offensive end. We normally don't miss that much. We have shooters. But we missed and missed.
"They're like normal human beings. When things don't go well then they press and I think they pressed a little bit. But then they settled down."
Jordan Howard sank a 3-pointer just before halftime for his first points and the senior added seven in the second half as Perry opened a 10-point lead in the third quarter and approached a 20-point advantage midway through the fourth before settling for the 18-point win.
"They're a really good team and even though we did a really good job on Markus Howard in the first half we knew he'd get loose eventually," Red Mountain coach Todd Fazio said. "It's tough to match up with them scoring the basketball."
Senior Colton Plourd led the Mountain Lions with 19 points, but had just six in the second half, and junior Jalen Jenkins added 12, all in the fourth.
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