Another second-half comeback attempt by the Camp Verde High School boys basketball team came up short in the final minute of a 65-59 Central Region loss to Glendale Preparatory Academy on Friday, Jan. 5.
Another slow start at both ends of the floor saw the Cowboys [4-5, 0-1 Central] go down by as many as 16 in the first half, but picked up momentum to before the break to trail 35-25.
“We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves prepared to play a little better,” Cowboys head coach Dan Wall said. “Down the stretch I think we’re a little bit fatigued, and that played into some of the choices we made. And sometimes that happens where you get down the stretch, and stuff just doesn’t quite go your way, and you’ve got to fight through that.
“Being a young group as well, learning how to win those close games, and what it really takes down the stretch to finish, I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Cowboys junior forward Nick Stone cut the deficit to 57-56 when he scored off of a Glendale Prep turnover. Then sophomore guard Abe Gonzalez hit his fourth three-pointer to knot it at 59 with just over a minute left.
Later, trailing 61-59, a controversial timeout call in favor of the Griffins halted what looked to have been a potential steal. Instead, Glendale Prep held possession, earned a foul and iced the game with free throws.
A strong third quarter positioned Camp Verde for a shot at the win in the first place.
Gonzalez, playing regular minutes for the first time since a shoulder injury in December, was an offensive catalyst.
Gonzalez scored three buckets on the fast break and added a basket from beyond the arc to trim the deficit to 43-42 with just under three minutes left. He converted a three-point play to give the Cowboys their first lead of the night at 45-44 with 1:21 left in the third.
He finished with a team-high 21 points.
“He was an animal. I think he had 21 [points], four for four from the three-point line,” Wall said. “But, I think more than that he brings a presence where he’s able to not force things. He takes a shot when it’s there, he moves the ball offensively when he needs to, he defends the heck out of it. He changes the way we’re able to play a little bit. It was really good to have him back out there again tonight.”
Camp Verde was slow coming out of the gate. Following a drive and finish from Camp Verde sophomore guard Jason Collier, the Griffins went on a 10-0 run. The run was fueled by back-to-back three-pointers and a strong fast break, and the visitors led 19-6 after the first.
Glendale Prep was winning the battle on the boards as well.
“Two areas: Transition, there were several times make or miss. Make, where we didn’t get ourselves set in a halfcourt, we weren’t even pressing early on. And then when we were pressing, we were very slow to set it up. And then missed shots we were just slow in transition,” Wall said.
Glendale Prep’s hot shooting continued in the second with two more triples. Minutes in, the Cowboys began to defend full court in an effort to slow the Griffins’ offense and generate some of its own.
Collier scored seven points and junior forward Nick Stone converted an and-1 while adding a free throw to cut the deficit heading into the locker room.
The Cowboys traveled to Verde Valley rival Sedona Red Rock High School on Tuesday, Jan. 9, but results were unavailable at press time. They play next at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, at No. 2 Paradise Honors High School.