One is fun, but twice is oh so nice.
The Fountain Hills boys basketball team finished the 2005-06 season Saturday night riding a 16-game winning streak, capped off by a 61-54 victory over Seton Catholic at Glendale Arena giving the Falcons their second consecutive 3A state championship.
“This one felt better for me, only because last year was such a rough ride for us,” Fountain Hills coach Cain Jagodzinski said of how tough getting that first title truly was.
“I was such a mental wreck last season. This time I could actually enjoy it. It’s just beautiful.”
Seton coach Hosea Graham certainly knows all too well what Jagodzinski is referring to. Graham’s Sentinels have now played in and lost two of the last three 3A state title games, including a 63-56 defeat at the hands of Rio Rico for the 2004 championship.
Dan Thomas’ 23 points and Martin Ort’s 16 led the way for the Falcons, who knocked off the Sentinels in the state tournament for the second year in a row. Fountain Hills’ championship-game victory comes a year to the day after the Falcons posted an eight-point win over Seton in the 2004 state semifinals.
“For Martin and I especially, there were so many down times in his first two years that it’s great to cap off these last two years like this,” Jagodzinski said.
“This one was completely different,” Ort said. “We had to battle through injuries and other things. It’s a different journey but it feels just as great.”
Fountain Hills led by as many as 13 late in the third quarter and held on to an 11-point lead inside four minutes to play in the game.
But Seton senior guard Mike Harty scored eight of his 11 points in the final frame leading a Sentinel charge that whittled the Falcons’ lead to four with less than 30 seconds to play.
Thomas then hit a pair of free throws to halt Seton’s comeback and help preserve the title for the Falcons.
BONUS SHOTS: Saturday’s 3A boys championship marked the first time in Arizona history that both officials during a boys basketball state title game were women. Greta Hannemann made the trip down from Flagstaff, while Kim Ruybalid was summoned cross-town from Chandler to call the game. . . .
For the second year in a row, Seton Catholic guard Jenny Churosh was the 3A girls winner of the Canyon State Shootout, 3-point shooting contest. Churosh converted 11 triples during halftime of the boys 3A title game, besting competitors from Tuba City, Lakeside Blue Ridge and Sedona Red Rock.