With the top-seeded Scottsdale Christian Academy down at halftime, 31-19, coach John Anderson believed that things would even out and his team would still have a fighting chance to lock up the 2A boys basketball state championship Saturday night at St. John Paul II High School in Avondale.
He and his team would have to wait nearly the full 16 minutes of the second half for that to happen, as senior guard Jacob Ekre drained three consecutive free throws with under a second left on the clock to give his team a 49-48 win over the No. 2 seed Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep and the 2A title.
The bid for the comeback win came the moment Scottsdale Christian Academy came out of the locker room for the second half. The team got key three-point shots from junior Garrison Sherman and Ryan Ohlinger and held Rancho Solano Prep to eight points while cutting the deficit to 39-36 after three quarters of play.
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The momentum continued to be well in Scottsdale Christian Academy’s favor in the fourth quarter, and with just 1:25 left, Sherman hit another three pointer that cut the deficit to one. Rancho Solano Prep senior Evan Punches responded by draining a pair of free throws, but Scottsdale Christian Academy responded back again, this time it was Jacob Ekre with a three pointer of his own with just 46 seconds remaining in the quarter to tie the contest up again.
After going to the free throw line, Rancho Solano Prep held a 48-46 advantage with six seconds left. Anderson called a time out to try to set up a game-winning shot. On the ensuing play, Ekre was fouled at the three-point line and sent to the free-throw line with under a second remaining. Ekre successfully hit all three free throws, allowing his team to go ahead, 49-48. Rancho Solano Prep tried one more desperation shot and was unsuccessful, sealing the win for Scottsdale Christian Academy.
“All my teammates came up to me before the free throws and they were just saying how much they appreciated me and love me and know I’m going to make those free throws,” Ekre said. “That gave me full confidence to know that I was going to make those free throws. When you have 13 guys that have your back there’s no saying how much confidence you can have.”
After the game, Rancho Solano Prep Head Coach Aaron Trigg said that just getting to the state title game was a big accomplishment considering the season almost didn’t happen.
“We’re so grateful for the opportunity to play,” Trigg said. “That’s been our rallying cry all year, just enjoy the ride because we were so close to not even getting to do this. So, even just having the opportunity to compete and have a season has been special.”
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