Daniel Bejarano Wins It All

Daniel Bejarano and his Phoenix North teammates have been chasing the 5A state title for the last two seasons while losing in the state title game each time. On Saturday, North won the elusive 5A D-II state title 42-39 over Tucson Ironwood Ridge on a last second shot by Robert Arvizu. Burnt Orange Beat spoke with Bejarano after the thrilling win.

Phoenix North and future Texas Longhorn guard Daniel Bejarano had a clear focus headed into the season. The focus of the 6-4, 200-pound junior was to bring home the 5A state title to North High, which had proven to be elusive the last two seasons finishing runner-up on both occasions.

On Saturday in Glendale, Arizona, Bejarano and his North teammates finally climbed to the top of the mountain with a thrilling, last second 42-39 win over top ranked Tucson Ironwood Ridge.

While Bejarano played a terrific game scoring 22 points and pulling down nine rebounds while battling sickness and dehydration, the hero for North was junior guard Robert Arvizu who knocked down a three-pointer in the closing seconds.

On Monday night, Bejarano was clearly still on cloud nine.

"It feels great," Bejarano said. "I feel like a state champion and it's great. One thing is for sure - we didn't think Robert would be the hero. It's great for him. He made the big shot. We had been here the last two times and came up short. We really wanted to win the title and think we deserved to (win it) after the last two seasons. We won for Coach Bustos' mom. He's been coaching for 23 years and 12 of them at North. Winning his first with us, that touched me."

Bejarano, who averaged 23.8 points, nine rebounds and three assists during the playoff run, battled sickness throughout the week and in the game late.

"I was sick last week heading into the game Tuesday. I was dizzy the day we played Central (March 6). Headed into the game Saturday, I felt like something good was going to happen, but I didn't know I would feel that bad during the game. I knew I forced three or four shots and missed during the game, but I couldn't let our team lose after the last two years. We struggled with our offense in the playoffs, but we really focused on our defense and we did a great job," Bejarano said.

The #20 prospect in the 2010 class put together a very impressive season in leading North to a 25-5 record. The 6-4, scoring guard averaged 23.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Add 16 double doubles, one triple double against Maryvale December 19 (18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists), five games of 30 or more points and a season high of 41 and the top junior in the state of Arizona backed up his lofty ranking.

Bejarano believes he improved in every aspect this year, but especially in two areas.

"I feel like I improved in every area. I came out strong and improved, especially on defense and ball handling. My coaches sit me down after every game and we talk about what I did well and what I can do better. One time this year, my assistant coach sat me down and said there wasn't anything that I didn't do well after a game. That was a good feeling to know I've improved. I like passing the ball and being an unselfish player. I like that aspect and I like to win. I feel like I improved in those areas too," Bejarano said, who knocked down 40.9% from three-point range on the season.

On the recruiting front, Bejarano remains 100% committed to the Longhorns despite the fact that his girlfriend will attend The University of Arizona next year.

"I'm still 100% committed to Texas. I can't wait to play at Texas," Bejarano said.

After some well deserved rest and relaxation, the long armed guard will suit up for the Arizona Stars AAU team and play his first tournament March 26-28 in California. The Stars will play in Atlanta in April as well as the Easter Classic in Las Vegas.

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