Perry High School’s boys basketball team saw their season come to an end on Friday night, falling on the road to Brophy College Preparatory 47-38 in the quarterfinals of the AIA 6A Boys Basketball State Championships.

The game was a defensive struggle all night, as both teams went long stretches without scoring. A combined total of six points was scored in the second quarter.

Perry, the No. 9 seed, entered the game with a 16-12 record, having just knocked off No. 8-seeded Horizon by 14 points on the road. The Pumas held their own against the No. 1 seeded Brophy.

Perry played tremendous defense all night. The 47 points scored by Brophy was tied for their lowest total on the year. 

“We really defend well. That’s what we base things on,” said Perry head coach Sean Duane.

While riding a 25-1 record to the top ranking in the state, Brophy had played two overtime games along the way. Perry, on December 15, was one. Brophy outlasted Perry 47-46 on that December day – Brophy’s other 47-point outing.

“These two teams know each other very well,” said Duane. “When we called out something they called it out. When they called a play, we had a check.”

“I know Coach Duane has been in our stands for four or five of our games, and we’ve been down to scout them a bunch too,” said Brophy coach Matt Hooten. “We were just able to make a couple plays down the stretch to push it away.” 

The Perry squad struggled offensively until the final quarter. They managed only 13 points in the first half. Perry’s wings were attacking aggressively all game, but shots simply were not falling.

“We had good looks all night long. Maybe there was something on the rim,” joked Duane. “Ball just couldn’t go in.”

While Perry struggled offensively for most of the night, their 20 points in the fourth nearly brought them back. Twice in the fourth quarter, junior guard Jalen Williams made shots to cut the deficit to four points before Brophy three-pointers regained control.

The 2016-17 season was Coach Duane’s first with Perry, coming over from Corona del Sol, where he had won four consecutive state championships. The Pumas struggled in Duane’s first year, finishing 11-16 and failing to make the state playoffs.

Winning an additional five games and making the state quarterfinals was a significant improvement for his squad this season, but there is still room for this young team to go upward.

“I’m so proud of this team, about how we improved from last year and the leaps we made,” said Duane. “We honestly thought at the start that we were a year away, and that sped up very quickly. 

Perry will return all but two of their players receiving regular minutes this season, and will lose only one starter: senior guard CJ Jamerson. 

“I just told them to keep doing what they’re doing. It’s clear that every day we were getting better,” said Jamerson. “I love those guys. They’re my brothers.”

The win takes Brophy to a state-best 26-1. They will play Mountain Pointe in the semifinals this upcoming Wednesday at Arizona State University’s Wells Fargo Arena. 

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