(Tucson, AZ) The most anticipated game on the boy’s side at the Martin Luther King Basketball Classic was a rematch of the January 8th game where Amphi pulled away at the end of the third quarter enroute to a 70-59 win.
Fast forward to the lights and the splendor of McKale Center. The kids from Avenida Vega got off to a fast start and went up 18-10 capped off by a floater at the buzzer by Marcos Blanco.
Blanco continued the scoring by hitting a three off the right wing and a 23-10 lead early into the second quarter.
Not afraid of the length of Amphi’s Jackson Ruai, the Titans continued to force the issue by driving deep into the lane even after Ruai was called for a goaltend.
Zionn Sandoval had several “no fear” drives past Amphi’s trees and the Titans wanted to send an immediate statement that the game two weeks ago was a distant memory.
Midway through each second quarter, Palo Verde led 30-17. Their ball movement was sharper than in Game 1.
Cohen Kimmel of the Panthers showed his range by keeping Amphi relevant in the first half hitting a couple of much needed threes, but at the end of the half, it was the Titans athleticism that led them to a 40-22 lead.
Sandoval with 14 points, Blanco had 13 points from deep and Jeff Thomas collected 9 points to lead the Titans in the opening half.
Ruai was held to 2 points which was one of the keys in the first two quarters. Kimmel picked up the slack for Amphi scoring 10 of the 22 points the Panthers had.
The Panthers came out of the locker room with fire in their eyes as they ran off a 9-3 spurt to cut the lead to 46-31, but still had an uphill battle.
The counter punch that the Titans delivered courtesy of Blanco and his sharp shooting from beyond the arc stemmed the tide and put Palo Verde back up 49-31, the same lead they enjoyed at the half.
Sensing the game may have been getting out of hand, Ruai with a monster dunk of a steal and Kimmel with yet another three pointer willed the Panthers back within seven points at 51-44 at the end of the third quarter.
Back and forth both teams traded punches and but the lead remained in double digits.
Amphi’s Ruai has a couple of huge misses down the stretch that could have possibly changed the complexion of the game off a missed layup and three point attempt.
Palo Verde took care of business in a statement win 69-59. Sandoval lead the Titans with 22 points but it was a three headed monster with Thomas adding 18 points and Blanco with 16, although he cooled off the second half it was his three pointers that made Amphi extend their defense allowing Sandoval and Thomas the driving lanes to score.
The message sent was these Titans can play with anyone in the city.