Holbrook Roadrunners win 3A North state title

<i>Anton Wero/NHO</i><br>
Members of the Holbrook Roadrunners celebrate winning the 2011 Arizona State Boys 3A title over the Fountain Hills Falcons.

<i>Anton Wero/NHO</i><br> Members of the Holbrook Roadrunners celebrate winning the 2011 Arizona State Boys 3A title over the Fountain Hills Falcons.

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Holbrook Roadrunners came from 13 points behind in the fourth quarter to beat Fountain Hills 49-43 and win the Arizona State 3A Conference Championship in Glendale on Saturday. The last state title won by the Roadrunners was in 1971.

The Roadrunners led 13-5 after the first quarter and been tied 20-20 at the half but fell behind 36-23 in the third quarter. Holbrook outscored Fountain Hills 26-7 in the final period due to an excellent full court press and timely shooting from the field and the free throw line. Kory Koerperich, Rashaun Baldwin, Ilacian Johnson and Jalen Jackson all played extremely well for the Roadrunners.

"Our kids bonded [well] over the season and they trusted each other. They are a cohesive team. I believed in the kids," said Raul Mendoza, head coach of the Roadrunners.

Kory Koerperich hit two three-pointers, Ilacian Johnson and Torrian Epps added a bucket each the Falcons countered with five points.  The Roadrunners' Koerperich launched a full court pass to Blake Maestas with a catch and shoot trey with seconds left on the clock, to end the first quarter 13-5 in Holbrook's favor.

The second quarter belonged to the Falcons who gained control of the game with a half court offense and using the paint for points. The Falcons went on a 9-2 run to close out the second period and took the lead 21-20.

The Falcons dominated the third quarter, driving the paint and earning trips to the free throw line while the Roadrunners scored only three points and trailed 23 to 36 as the quarter concluded.

Coach Mendoza implemented full court pressure to start final quarter of the season.

"All season long, the key to our wins has been the pressures defense," he said. Astoundingly, trailing by 15 points, the Roadrunners rallied with a 16-0 run, aided by Torrian Epps' nine points in the paint. Rashuan Baldwin and Jalen Jackson added seven points to help the Roadrunners regain the lead 41-40, with 1:51 left in the quarter. Jackson then calmly hit two free throws and Koerperich hit on 6 of 8 at the line to seal the deal and start the jubilant celebration.

Kory Koerperich lead the Roadrunners with 12 points, followed by Epps with 11 points, Baldwin added 10 and Jackson had nine points.

Semi-final games

The 3A North Region had three boys' teams in the state semi-finals but two of them were ousted leaving only the Roadrunners to play Fountain Hills in the Championship Game on Saturday. Holbrook ousted the Winslow Bulldogs 62-55 on Friday in a game that was not as close as the score. Fountain Hills ousted Monument Valley on Friday 86-58 to reach the Championship Game.

The Holbrook Roadrunners ousted the Winslow Bulldogs from the Arizona State 3A Conference Boys' Basketball Tournament with a 62-55 win on Friday. The loss ended a Winslow's fine season with a record of 28-7 for the season and sent the top seeded Roadrunners into the Championship Game on Saturday against Fountain Hills, an 86-38 winner over Monument Valley in the other semi-final game.

Holbrook played an excellent defensive game and led most of the way. An 11-0 run at the end of the second quarter put the Bulldogs into an impossibly deep hole from which they never recovered. The game was close in the first period which ended with Holbrook leading 16-13 but a second period that saw the Roadrunners score 11 straight in the closing moments and build a 33-17 halftime lead decided the contest. The margin grew to 45-30 in the third period and even a 25-point fourth period was not enough to ever put the game in doubt for the Bulldogs.

Kraig Shirley led all scorers with 23 points for Winslow but he had 18 of those in the closing quarter and had been silenced in the early going. Jevon Estelle was also in double figures for Winslow with 11 points but he, too, was silenced in the early going with only two points in the first half.

Jalen Jackson paced the Roadrunners with 19 points including an important 10 in the second quarter that built Holbrook's big advantage. Kory Koerperich scored 15 for the Roadrunners and both those players were deadly from the three point line. Ilacian Johnson tallied nine for the Roadrunners.

Fountain Hills outscored the Mustangs in every quarter in their 86-58 win over Monument Valley. Jeffery Bonner led the Falcons with 19 points. Nick Backer and Tyler Bode both scored 18 for the victors. Zachary Keith paced Monument Valley with 18 points. Chad Keith with 11 points and Preston Parrish with 10n were also in double figures for the Mustangs.

The loss by Monument Valley was the only one by a 3A North Region team to a team from another region in either the boys' or the girls' tournaments. The six girls' teams from the region did not lose a game other than to other 3A North Region rivals.

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