Cibola wins at Havasu in state opener
With less than a minute to go, Cibola and Lake Havasu were tied in their first-round game of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I State Tournament on Thursday night.
Playing in enemy territory, the Raiders managed to make free throws down the stretch to beat the Knights 58-54 to advance to the second round.
The No. 20 Raiders had the ball with 44 seconds left and junior guard Jordan Mitchell drove to the basket and was fouled. He made the first free throw to put the Raiders up 55-54 but missed the second. Lake Havasu couldn't convert on the other end and sent Mitchell back to the line where he sank a pair of free throws to give Cibola a three-point lead.
The No. 13 Knights turned the ball over and senior post Deante Gaines made a free throw to give the Raiders a 58-54 cushion that guaranteed the win.
Gaines led the Raiders with 15 points and senior Stevie Mitchell scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“My seniors — Deante and Stevie — played really well tonight,” Cibola coach Tim Keller said.
Steven Loucks had nine points and 10 rebounds while Jordan Mitchell finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“They packed into a zone to prevent Jordan from getting to the basket, which is what we thought they would do,” Keller said.
The win at a raucous Lake Havasu gym is the first home loss for the Knights since falling to Marcos de Niza in the first round of the state tournament in 2010.
“There was a loud crowd and there was a lot of them,” Keller said.
Cibola has beaten Lake Havasu three times this season in the four meetings between the teams and it's the third game that ended in four points or less.
“Havasu is just a great group of kids and they played a great game. We have so much respect for them,” Keller said.
The win bumps the Raiders into the second round, where they'll play at No. 4 Gilbert at 7 p.m. Saturday.