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Unselfish Cibola takes care of Brawley at home
The new year had not been kind to the Cibola boys basketball team.
However, after a tough stretch the Raiders got a dose of good news with their 73-45 victory over Brawley at home on Friday night.
After the calendar changed to 2013, the Raiders dropped three out of four games and went from being No. 5 in Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Points to No. 23 before their win against the Wildcats.
“We've played some teams out of Phoenix to start the (calendar) year. We struggled a little bit,” Cibola coach Tim Keller said. “We didn't play well together. We were playing some selfish basketball and you're not going to win games that way.”
“We weren't playing as a team like we were at the beginning of the season. We just had to get back to that,” senior wing Jordan Mitchell said.
The Raiders (8-3) certainly looked unselfish on Friday, moving the ball quickly on offense — which led to several open layups and outside jumpers.
“It gives everyone confidence, and everybody's happy because everybody is scoring,” Mitchell said of the Raiders, who finished with 17 assists as a team and had nine players score.
With an obvious height advantage over the Wildcats, 6-foot-6 senior post Steven Loucks finished with 21 points, 19 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and a pair of assists. Junior wing Noah Thompson had 17 points on 6 for 12 shooting — including three 3-pointers — and five rebounds off the bench and senior wing Brett Boyer added 11 points and six rebounds.
“(Loucks) played unselfishly. He caught the ball in the post and when they collapsed on him, he kicked it out,” Keller said. “Then he positioned himself under the basket because he knew he had the height advantage and he'd get those tip-ins. When he doesn't feel like he has to put the team on his shoulders, he looks really good on the basketball court.”
Most of Loucks' points came from plays off the ball — tip-ins, put backs, and cutting towards the hoops. While he could have looked for his shot easily against the undersized Wildcats, Loucks said he didn't want to change his game.
“If we get into bad habits like that when we play bad teams, we're going to do it against good teams. So we're trying to build good habits,” he said.
The Wildcats (0-11) actually kept with the Raiders initially, trailing only 16-12 after the first quarter.
Then the Raiders put it into fifth gear.
Seven different Raiders scored in the second quarter in which Cibola outscored Brawley 27-6.
“We missed a lot of shots underneath that we shouldn't (in the first quarter) and we were reaching in on defense and not moving our feet,” Keller said. “Then they woke up in the second quarter. They were finishing their shots and playing better defense.”
After ending 2012 with a perfect regular season record, the Raiders lost 63-48 at El Central-Central, 89-66 at No. 8 Mesa-Dobson and 82-76 in overtime to Gilbert-Perry in the span of a week in January.
“It's very important that we got this win. We can't lose any more games the rest of the way,” Mitchell said. “We got this win to get our confidence up for the next seven games”
“We've had some games in the past where we've been selfish,” Keller said. “We've been trying to get these guys to understand that when you play together, when they move the ball, when they give up a shot to get a better one, we look really good. And tonight we did that.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.