When the Kofa boys basketball team lost to Yuma High in the beginning of the year, sophomore guard Zac Castaneda was still on junior varsity.
Now that he's with varsity, the 5-foot-9 guard made sure the Kings won the season series with a 55-50 win at Yuma High on Tuesday night.
Castaneda shot 10 for 13 from the field — including a perfect 4 of 4 from beyond the arc — for 26 points and added five rebounds and three assists for the Kings.
“Today was a good day,” Castaneda said. “I'm not scared to shoot anymore. I'm confident in my shot.”
“Guys weren't getting around screens, guys weren't talking on screens, guys were getting picked off,” Yuma High coach Chris Turner said. “When you have a hot night, you have a hot night.”
Sophomore wing Isaac Coronado added 17 points on the night, including 14 in the first half. The two sophomores combined to score the final 20 points for the Kings — Coronado with 12 and Castaneda with eight.
“When Yuma made a run on us, I expected our leaders to step up and take care of the ball and make plays for us and tonight both of them were ready to play,” Kofa coach Danilo Montialli said.
Brian Dixon had a team-high 13 points for Yuma High (5-9) and freshman post Octavio Rios added 12, but Turner thought his team hurt themselves on Tuesday.
“We missed free throws and that's what hurt us,” Turner said. “Every game that we've lost we've missed that many free throws and more. That's why we're losing games. We're not making free throws.”
Yuma High finished 13 for 27 from the free-throw line, including missing all the front ends of its one-and-ones in the first half.
In the first meeting of the year, Yuma High pounded the Kings 50-23 at Kofa on Nov. 26. Coronado scored a game-high 25 points in the second meeting of the year, a 72-62 win for Kofa at Arizona Western College.
“We're getting more comfortable with the Xs and Os at this level because I have seven sophomores and zero returners,” Montialli said.
The Kings (6-8) held a comfortable lead after the dust had settled on Castaneda's shooting spree early. The sophomore guard hit a buzzer beater 3-pointer at the end of the first then opened the second quarter with a pair of threes to push the Kofa lead to 12. The Kings led by as many as 15 on the night, when a layup by Castaneda, who scored 18 in the first half, made it 26-11 midway through the second.
The Criminals made their move in the second half but every time they did, Castaneda and Coronado were waiting.
A pair of free throws by Dixon made it 38-33, but Castaneda answered with a 3-pointer on the top of the arc on the ensuing possession.
Late in the fourth, after a basket by Yuma High's Brendan Young made it 51-45 with 1:30 left, Castaneda came up with a long rebound, flipped it ahead to an open Coronado, who made the layup to seal the game.
Zac Castaneda’s play in the game between Kofa and Yuma High was outstanding. Now you might want to take a break from basketball and see what’s new and happening at the West End. There are a number of spectacular musicals and plays showing in venues all over. Look for the one that interests you and get West End tickets for an evening as entertaining and memorable as this junior varsity basketball game.