Campo Verde nabs 5A boys hoops title
March 4, 2023 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365
#1 seed Campo Verde put together a vintage team effort on Friday night to corral its first basketball title in its first trip to the championship stage.
The Coyotes erased a three-point halftime deficit in the first couple minutes of the third quarter. Their rally snowballed from there in delivering a 61-48 triumph over #2 Millennium in the 5A boys basketball title game at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Campo Verde, coached by Mark Martinez, finished the season 28-4. Millennium wound up 27-5. Millennium was seeking the second boys hoops title in its history. The Tigers first was won in 2008 -- an overtime win over Avondale Agua Fria, 49-48.
So what made Campo's victory vintage? It was balanced scoring. Not just a couple players scoring in double figures. This night the entire starting lineup tallied in double figures.
From highest to lowest were senior Justin Garcia and junior Cohen Ferguson with 13 points each. Senior Ty McDowell was next with 12. Senior Isaish Kai, the Coyotes leading scorer for the season had 11. Senior Garrett Ahern, who can now move on to playing baseball, chipped in with 10. Eight of Ahern's points were tallied in the fourth quarter - a couple perimeter jumpers and two layups.
Campo Verde's free-throw shooting was outstanding and quite an advantage as it turned out. Campo Verde made 18 of 20 free throws; Millennium connected on only of 11 of 23.
Martinez, who has coached for 18 years at varsity and junior varsity levels, made sure to hand out had praise to Campo fans for their support all season and most assuredly Friday night.
"The Campo Crazies came out, and it showed all game," Martinez said. "We lost our leader (Kai) in a foul-trouble situation. But our guys stuck with it, and we pulled it out at the end."
Campo Verde trailed 25-22 at intermission. The Coyotes outscored Millennium 16-9 in the third quarter, setting up a contentious fourth quarter with a four-point lead. Millennium didn't overtake Campo Verde in the fourth quarter, but remained within 44-40 halfway through the quarter. An 8-1 Campo Verde run with points from Ahern, Ferguson, and Garcia boosted the lead to 11 and secured the outcome.
Millennium stands a good chance of continued success and deep advances in postseason in the near future. Coach Ty Amundsen started two freshmen and three sophomores. The Tigers were led offensively by freshman Cameron Holmes with a game-high 17 points and sophomore Quincy Everson with 12 points.