Willow Canyon to face Cibola for the Aztec Classic Championship

December 21, 2021 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Former Chavez coach Gary Lee has Mica Mountain competitive early. (Andy Morales/AZPreps365)

Mica Mountain beat Sahuaro 64- 60 Tuesday afternoon to advance to the championship of the Aztec Classic Silver Bracket where the Thunderbolts will face Cholla at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The tournament is taking place at Pima College West and it’s the second tournament hosted by the Aztecs this season.

Pima also hosted a preseason tournament during the Thanksgiving break and Sahuaro defeated Mica Mountain 68-63 to win the Silver Bracket championship of that invitational. That victory was part of a string eight straight victories by the Cougars to start the season and it was the best start for the Cougars since getting off to a 13-0 start in 2017. Mica Mountain, on the other hand improved to 5-4 in the first varsity season for the new school located in the Vail School District.

The Bolts played a junior varsity schedule last year and there are no seniors in the program and only two juniors in Jacob Flores-Banuelos and Kaspen Colbert. Flores-Banuelos led all scorers with 16 points and Colbert scored 13. Sophomore big man Isaiah Berg added 14 for the Bolts.

Mica Mountain led 34-27 at the half with the tournament rules calling for two 16-minutes halves rather than four quarters. Flores-Banuelos gave the Bolts their largest lead of the night at 53-41 on a bucket with 7:05 left in the game and he hit a 3 with 3:59 left to put Mica Mountain up 58-48. Marvin Kemp responded with a 3 of his own and it sparked a 12-2 run by the Cougars down the stretch including a 3 from Ryan Valdez as the clock expired, ending a frantic comeback attempt. Mica Mountain held on 64-60. Palmer finished with 15 points to lead Sahuaro, Kemp had 13 and Valdez added 11.

The championship of the Gold Bracket will feature Willow Canyon (9-3) and Cibola (8-3) at 7:30 p.m. Willow Canyon beat Nogales 75-50 to get to the final and Cibola took care of Catalina Foothills 60-56 in the other semifinal match.