Most Viewed Stories
Knights top Hawks to claim GVR title
Gila Ridge couldn't make a shot in the third quarter. Lake Havasu couldn't miss a free throw in the fourth.
The result was a 45-37 road win for the Knights on Friday in the regular-season finale, wrapping up the Gila Valley Region title in their first year in the league.
The Hawks, meanwhile, will enter next week's GVR tournament needing three straight wins - likely all on the road - to win the tourney and secure a playoff berth. The Hawks (8-9 overall, 5-5 region) entered the game 17th in power points, with no more than the top 16 making the playoffs.
"Havasu had more to lose than we did," Gila Ridge coach Derek Bosch said. "They're going to state regardless, but we could have made them come down here three more times. We could have got into state if we beat these guys tonight. We know we can still win every game. We've improved every game. The kids have to start believing that."
Had the Hawks won, Kofa would have won the region title. But with the victory the Knights (16-2, 9-1) won their first region title since 1994.
"It's big for our school and we have a lot of people back home interested in phone calls right now," said Havasu coach Scott Becker, whose team moved back up to first in the power rankings with the win. "It's neat to walk into the locker room, but we kind of have to put it behind us and move on to the state stuff right now."
Gila Ridge had early leads at 7-4 and 17-16 - taking both leads on 3-pointers from Lance McLaren, who led the Hawks with 15 points - but Havasu pulled away in the third. The Hawks missed 10 of their first 11 shots in the period. The Hawks, down 34-24 early in the fourth, cut the lead to four on a steal and layup from Ivan Jimenez. But the Knights made all six of their free throw attempts in the final 90 seconds to walk away with the win and the region title.
"They hit their free throws down the stretch and we missed six layups in the third quarter," Bosch said. "And they were easy layups. We make three or four of those layups, and we're ahead. But Lake Havasu is a good team and we gave our best."
Even though the Knights didn't have a huge height advantage, Bosch said it was enough to lead to the third-quarter woes.
"Anytime we play a team with even a little bit of size, we get a little shy in the lane," Bosch said. "That's why we had six layups just hit the rim and fall out. We have to learn to deal with other team's size if we're going to be successful. But we made strides tonight. Havasu is the No. 1 team in the region and we played them tough. We could have won."
Aaron Troyer led three Knights in double figures with 13. Jeremy Holtzen added 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Hawks will likely open the tournament 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cibola, while the Knights will host the championship game Friday.
"I think they were pretty focused," Becker said. "Me as a coach, I was nervous because I knew what was on the line. I told them I never wanted something more for someone else than what I wanted tonight. And to come out on top, I'm so proud of them and they deserve every bit of it."