SCA Steals Win From VC-2A Finals

In a classic battle between 2...

$$$ Valley Christian did everything right in the first half of last night's 2A State Championship game at America West Arena.  Then the Trojans self-destructed and Scottsdale Christian Academy literally stole the game in the final seconds to earn a hard fought 38-34 victory.

Brian Roberts, the Trojans' senior guard, set the tone early with three 3-pointers in the first period.

VC played tough defense, particularly inside using a match-up zone to keep SC's tall front line from setting up on the blocks.  The Eagle's big man Nkem Ojougboh never was able to effectively post up.

Sophomore Kevin Coble was able to get loose outside though and put up 9 first period points to keep the Eagles in the game.

The 1st ended with the Valley Christian up 17-14.

Trojan Ben Bergsma started leaving his imprint in the 2nd period and you could see the SC fans starting to squirm in their seats.  Bergsma, a sophomore guard, caught fire from outside and finished the half with 9 points.

Tim Maiden hit his second 3-pointer in an effort to keep his team close but Valley Christian kept stretching the lead.

Both teams played tight defense but VC's was a bit more suffocating.

The half finished with the Trojans seemingly in complete control, up 29-20.  Momentum was clearly on their side.

The 3rd period saw VC start to employ a strategy that would be their downfall.  Instead of continuing on with a successful first half game plan of aggressively attacking on offense, the Trojans became very conservative and patiently ran their motion offense on the perimeter until they found the perfect shot.  The perfect shots never came as the Eagles turned the screws tighter defensively.  VC would only score 3 points in the period on a Bergsma 3- pointer.

Meanwhile, SC scratched and clawed to stay in the game.  Another Maiden 3-pointer brought the Eagles to within five, 32-27 with 3:30 remaining in the 3rd.

VC then spread three guards on the perimeter and tried to play keep-away.  It appeared the Trojans were looking for the last shot as no attempt was made to get the ball inside.

The 3rd period ended with VC holding a precarious 32-27 lead.

The slowed tempo of the game backfired on VC as they missed some easy lay ups and their few outside shots wouldn't fall.  Their only points in the 4th period came at 7:10 on two David Melhorn free throws.

A Chris Osborn put back brought the Eagles to within one, 34-33 at 5:45.  A Coble free throw tied it at 3:00.

VC continued to stall on offense and called timeout with 1:00 remaining.  The idea was to get the last shot but with 37 seconds left, 6'7" Coble stole the ball just past the top of the key and started his way down court for a breakaway lay up.

Coble was intercepted by a VC defender and missed the lay up, subsequently falling out of bounds. VC grabbed the rebound but Coble jumped in to steal the outlet pass.  Coble put up a shot and was fouled, missing the shot.

Coble was deadly on both free throws and SC grabbed their first lead of the game, 36-34.

VC went into the spread offense again and Coble came up with another steal with six seconds remaining.  Coble was immediately fouled and the Trojans again called timeout.

Coble went to the line for a one and one.  He hit the front end and VC called another timeout.  Coble made the 2nd free throw and the Eagles had an insurmountable 38-34 lead barring any stupid fouls.

A desperation VC shot at the buzzer didn't fall and Scottsdale Christian stormed center court to celebrate the 38-34 victory.

$$$ I'll bet you anything Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma regrets his decision to play stall ball in the 2nd half.  He may not publicly admit it, but slowing the tempo cost his team the game.

VC nailed six 3-pointers in the first half and had Scottsdale Christian on the ropes with a take-it-to-‘em aggressive offensive strategy.  Momentum was on VC's side and the SC fans were silenced.

I was wondering if there were any adjustments SC coach Bob Fredericks could make at halftime to help his team stay competitive.  VC's interior defense was causing fits for the Eagles and I had a hard time figuring out how to combat the tricky defensive scheme even with a high vantage point up in the stands.

The absolute last thing I would've ever suspected from VC would be stalling tactics in the 3rd period.  I'm still in shock as to why?

VC made no attempt to post up their big man David Melhorn.  This puzzled me too. Melhorn finished with only 2 points.

I'm going to belabor the point because I can't stop wondering how VC was going to beat any team by scoring only five points in the 2nd half.

I didn't even like the way the Trojans ran their stall.  They employed three guards out on the perimeter and kind of ran a weave of sorts.  This required way too many ball exchanges that left VC wide open to being a victim of percentages.  The more times you have to dribble or pass the ball, the better the chance of a turnover.

I much prefer the four corners stall because it spreads the defense and gives you better angles to the hoop for scoring opportunities.  It also leaves your four corner men in a position to see the entire floor.

VC's stall offense was a hindrance to its own players.  I don't know if it was intentional, but the Trojans didn't even look to score for vast amounts of the 2nd half.  They were too busy executing their stalling offense.

Greg Haagsma is one of the state's very finest coaches.  Even the best get questioned from time to time.

$$$ Kevin Coble is going to be a huge star before his high school career is finished.  The 6'7" sophomore Trojan forward has a scorer's mentality and one of the sweetest looking, fundamentally sound shots I've ever seen in a big man.  He's agile and has a nose for the ball.  I'll not be surprised to see him put up several 50 point scoring efforts in the next two years.

Coble finished with a game high 15 points last night.

$$$ Bryan Botma, the Eagles senior guard, hung 30 points on SC earlier this season but finished with only 3 last night.  He never got in his groove, a victim of stall ball.

$$$ It's a good thing Nkem Ojougboh has another year left of high school.  He's D-1 stock already but his value is only going to rise.  The 6'9" post man had a rough night thanks to VC's swarming defense.  He still picked up 10 points but once he learns to establish his low post game with more authority, he'll be unstoppable.

$$$ Brian Roberts has to be one the best shooters in the state.  You can tell that by his silky smooth shooting stroke.  Being a lefty only makes it look prettier.  I'm sure some small college will pick up this hard working, senior 6'1"guard.

$$$ Alex Rogers had a tough night (2 pts.).  His shot wouldn't fall and Brian Roberts lit him up for 9 first period points.

But the 6'4" Rogers has been the backbone of the Eagle ball club all season and has sacrificed his offensive game for the good of the team.  Teammate Kevin Coble wouldn't have blossomed this season had Rogers been selfish and insisted on getting his own points.

Rogers has concentrated his efforts on the defensive end and locked down some of the state's best offensive talents.  In fact, VC's Roberts was shut out after his 1st period outburst, thanks to Rogers.

I'll be curiously watching to see if Alex plays football or basketball next year in college.  He has the tools to do either.

$$$ Trojan PG Tim Maiden played a stellar floor game and pitched in 11 points.  Toiling in the 2A Conference has not been good for Maiden's notoriety as the state's best point guards reside in the 4A and 5A.  Playing against the more recognized and elite point guards again this summer on the club ball circuit will surely help Tim's recruiting status.

$$$ 2A schools may have smaller enrollments but they make up for it with terrific fan support.  It seemed like SCA had more supporters in the seats but the noise level from both schools was deafening.

Congratulations to both schools on their good sportsmanship and for very successful seasons.
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SCOTTSDALE CHRISTIAN - Kevin Coble 15, Tim Maiden 11, Nkem Ojougboh 10, Chris Osborn 2
VALLEY CHRISTIAN - Ben Bergsma 12, Brian Roberts 9, Brett Urig 5, Bryan Botma 3, Andy Vernon 3, David Mehlhorn 2

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