It’s going to be Glendale Deer Valley against Peoria for the third time this season when the rivals meet Thursday at 8 p.m. at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the 4A boys basketball championship.
Deer Valley needed a last-second layup by Travis Vasquez to beat host Gilbert Mesquite 67-66 on Monday night in a semifinal game that was moved from Saturday.
Vasquez’s last-second basketball was set up when coach Jed Dunn substituted before the second free throw, inserting Eric Perkins with 4.2 seconds left.
On the missed free throw, Perkins grabbed the rebound and finished the play by getting the ball to Vasquez, who went length of the court for the game-winning layup at the buzzer.
“They never stop playing hard,” Dunn said.
“Great back-and-forth game,” Mesquite coach Shawn Lynch said. “Both teams played extremely hard.”
Deer Valley (21-7) is the No. 8 seed that didn’t start out in the 32-team Open Divison tournament. Mesquite (21-8), the 8 seed and the defending 4A champion, lost in the opening round of the Open to Brophy Prep and got another shot at winning a title through the 4A bracket.
But this has been a tough-minded Deer Valley bunch that has never backed down from a challenge.
Read more:Arizona High school basketball: Previewing girls 5A, 4A semifinal playoffs
This is Deer Valley’s third trip to the final under Dunn. But it’s going to take another incredible effort for Deer Valley to win its first 4A championship against a team it has lost twice to before this season.
No. 2 Peoria (26-4) defeated No. 3 Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain 67-53 on Monday night, behind another solid all-around team effort, led by Andrew Camacho (22 points, nine assists), Calvin Windley (19 points, 5 of 6 3-pointers), Caden Bass (16 points) and Christopher Brookins (eight rebounds, five assists, four steals).
This is Peoria’s second trip to the final since 2020 under coach Patrick Battillo, whose Panthers lost to Tucson Salpointe Catholic 54-48 in overtime in the 2020 4A final.
“Proud of this group,” Battillo said. “Executed the heck out of the game plan from the start.
“Chris Brookins led us defensively to set the tone. Cal, Caden and Drew did what they do to ensure this victory and a trip to finish it off.”
Peoria beat Deer Valley by scores of 55-51 and 66-50 this season.
“Going to be a tough battle playing DV for a third time, but we are excited and we will be ready,” Battillo said.
For subscribers:The Republic’s Top 10 Arizona high school boys basketball players of the week: Feb. 20-25
To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at[email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter@azc_obert