MALC advances into Elite 8: After defeating Redskins in 1st round, fall to Apaches in 2nd
BULLHEAD CITY — Junior center Jacob Leslie scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and junior forward Zach Neal tallied 18 points and snatched 18 rebounds to lead the Patriots past the Red Mesa High School Redskins 56-53 to earn a berth into the second round.
Friday morning’s 1A Arizona Interscholastic Association Boys Basketball Championships first-round victory at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott set up the Mohave Acclerated Learning Center squad’s second-round matchup against the Fort Thomas High School Apaches on Saturday morning.
“It was a tough-fought game,” said MALC head coach Joey Leslie by text message. “Red Mesa came out fast, got in early foul trouble.”
It was 10-10 after one quarter.
“We shot poorly in the first half of the game,” said Leslie about his team’s 25-20 halftime deficit. “We came out in the third and took over the game, got a lead and never looked back.”
The 1A West Region regular-season champion and No. 6-seeded Patriots, whose record was 14-4 overall, 13-1 in conference and 6-0 in region, turned their five-point halftime deficit into a 35-29 advantage.
“We came out and established the post and moved the ball,” Coach Leslie said. “We spread their zone out and when Matt Hernandez and Devin Homer hit back-to-back 3s ... and Zach Neal got back-to-back layups against their press.”
Hernandez is a 5-8 junior shooting guard and Homer is a 6-0 forward who hit the 3s which Coach Leslie described as “game-changers.”
Coach Leslie said the Redskins made a late push, but the 6-5 Jacob Leslie converted 11 of 13 free throws to shut the door down the stretch.
Patriots freshman forward Josh Neal chipped in nine points.
Senior center Tristen Tsosie, 5-11, led the 12-4 overall, 8-2 in conference and 8-2 in the 1A North Redskins with 14 points.
APACHES 60, PATRIOTS 41
Jacob Leslie tallied 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but that was not enough for the Patriots as the No. 3-seeded Fort Thomas squad cruised past MALC in the quarterfinals.
Josh Neal added nine points and Zach Neal chipped in seven points and snatched five rebounds during the second-round matchup against the 2018 runner-up Fort Thomas team at the Findlay Toyota Center.
The Apaches, who finished the regular season with a record of 16-3 overall, 15-2 in conference and 8-0 in the 1A East Region, led 15-8 after one quarter, 28-17 at halftime and 46-30 after three periods.
“We were trading 3s for 2s in the second quarter; that gave them the lead,” Coach Leslie said. “They had great spacing and ball movement — shot the 3 well.”
Junior point guard Malachi Rogers scored 15 points and junior guard Brad Johnson added 14 points to lead the Apaches.
“I told my players how proud I am to be their coach, to remember all that we’ve accomplished and let’s go to work in the offseason to have continued success,” Coach Leslie said.
Stats courtesy of Coach Leslie; records, seedings courtesy of aiaonline.org.