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Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

South boys show flashes of hoops predecessors style

January 4, 2012 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365


By Don Ketchum

Back in the day, the boys from Phoenix South Mountain were among basketball royalty. They played with the most entertaining style one would find anywhere in the state.

The Jaguars have been searching for that magic in the last three decades.

Maybe, just maybe, they have found some of it in 2011-12.

There were flashes of it on Wednesday (Jan. 4) in the opening round of the Phoenix Union High School District Holiday Classic at Laveen Betty H. Fairfax High.

South had sound fundamentals much of the time, seemingly jumped out of the gym with its rebounding and ran like the wind.

It all added up to a 73-67 overtime victory over Phoenix Westwind Prep.

South (9-4) advanced to Thursday’s (Jan. 5) winner’s bracket game at 3:30 p.m. Westwind (9-6) will play in the loser’s bracket at 9 a.m.

“Our kids are learning a lot. We are getting better each game,’’ said Ernie Cobb, in his first season as the Jaguars’ coach after three years as head coach at Phoenix Trevor Browne.

“Continuing to play well in this tournament will do a lot for our confidence. You have to believe you can do it, and we are starting to believe that we can play with anybody on any given night.’’

Juwan Murphy scored 12 of his 22 points in the second quarter to stabilize the Jaguars. The team had four other double-figure scorers – Kenny Jackson (15), Tyler Simpson (13), Zylan Cheatham (12) and Hanok Tekest (11).

For Westwind, point guard Pee Wee Gardner was a 5-foot-7 giant, scoring 24 points and getting the crowd going with a series of dazzling moves. Damion Rashford added 22.

The team needed as much as possible from those two as it played with only seven players.

South went on a 9-0 run to begin the four-minute overtime, making it too difficult for Westwind to overcome, although Coy Mattox hit a pair of late 3-pointers, the second with 26 seconds left to make it 70-67. Nine of South’s 13 points in the overtime came on free throws.