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Chaparral wins nip-and-tuck battle at tourney

December 28, 2011 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Chaparral's boys basketball team is inexperienced for the most part, but scrappier than heck on the flip side. That scrappiness paid off Wednesday morning as the Firebirds prevailed in their second tight Basketball Challenge game in as many days with a 53-52 victory over Mountain Pointe at Mesa Mountain View High School.

Two free throws by freshman guard Brandon Hoffer with seven seconds left improved Chaparral's (6-6) lead to 53-49. Those were critical as Mountain Pointe's Khari Holloway drilled a 3 with one-tenth of a second left for the final points. Chaparral lost its first tournament game to Dobson, 62-57.

"We've been in every game we've played," Chaparral coach Damin Lopez said. "We only have one senior who plays a lot of minutes. To close out a game like this on top is big. We showed we can execute when the game's on the line. We bent at the end, but didn't break."

Hoffer, who finished with 13 points, had seven in the first half and led Chaparral to a 21-16 lead at intermission as both teams struggled shooting the first 16 minutes. The teams combined to go 0-for-17 to open the game. Chaparral didn't score its first field goal until six minutes had elapsed; Mountain Pointe finally connected with 8:17 left in the first half.

Hoffer (six assists) got offensive help in the second half from 6-foot-7 center Eric Conklin, who talled eight of his 10 points after the break and was the force Lopez expects on the boards (12 rebounds).

The bend-don't-break Lopez referred to was Chaparral's 25-18 lead early in the second half that flipped to a  34-29 deficit with nine minutes left. Holloway paced Mountain Pointe's charge as the junior guard  scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half (10-of-13 shooting).

Chaparral rebounded and took the lead for good, 37-36 with just over five minutes left on two Conklin free throws. The biggest buckets for Chaparral in the final three minutes came from sophomore guard Troy Connelly, who made three 3s in a two-minute stretch. Each of those threes kept Mountain Pointe behind and inched the Pride's deficit from three, to four and finally 51-46 with 1:25 to play.

Mountain Pointe, which entered the tournament 8-0 and won Horizon's Invitational on Dec. 17, dropped to 8-2 with its second narrow defeat in as many days. The Pride lost to Gahr High (Cerritos, Calif.), 61-58, on Tuesday

"We're having some chemistry issues and not executing like we did the first eight games," Mountain Pointe coach Brian Fleming said. "We didn't shoot well and got hurt by those three 3s at the end.

"We need to use our next two games to get that chemistry back and be ready for the next two (power-point) games on the (January) 5th and 6th against Brophy and Corona."