By Greg Perkins
Playing on the road as the 22nd overall seed, the Holbrook Roadrunners upset the 11th ranked Northwest Christian Crusaders 63-60 in the opening round of the Division III State Tournament Tuesday night in Phoenix.
The Birds started quickly, going on a 16-2 run to open the game, and finished the first period with a 13-point lead. In the second they continued to play well and led 37-25 at the half.
Holbrook started out in the third again playing well, building the lead to as much as 18 before the Crusaders went on a 22-3 scoring run late in the third and early in the fourth to take their first lead of the game early in the final period. With 6:37 left in the fourth the Roadrunners had given away the entire 18-point margin and trailed for the first time since the opening basket of the game by the Crusaders.
Most of the fourth period went back and forth, with both teams missing critical free throws that could have put the game out of reach either way. Andon Hatch buried a three point shot with 3:41 left to give Holbrook a 56-55 lead. Northwest Christian fought back to take the lead at 60-58 with less than 20 seconds left in the game. Holbrook came right down and Abrian Dickson’s long range, three-point bomb from the right wing with 15 seconds left in the game gave Holbrook the lead for good at 61-60. After Northwest Christian turned the ball over on the inbounds play, Marlin Martin gave the Roadrunners a three-point margin as he made two free throws with 11 seconds left. The Crusaders did get a three-point shot attempt to tie the game in the final seconds, but it missed the mark, sending Holbrook onto the second round of the playoffs tonight (Feb. 21).
The Roadrunners, now 15-14, will face sixth seeded Combs at 5 o’clock tonight at Copper Canyon High School in Glendale. The Coyotes enter the game with a 22-9 overall mark and finished 20th overall in the power point rankings, but earned the No. 6 seed and a first round bye by virtue of winning their sectional tournament. Despite being the lower seed, Holbrook will be favored to win this game, as Combs played in a very weak section and hasn’t faced the kind of opponent the Roadrunners can put on the floor. If the Birds get past Combs, they would face either Yuma Catholic or Bisbee at 12 noon on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
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By Greg Perkins