The 5A Desert Valley Region looks to be competitive until the very end of the regular season.
But it may be turning into a four-team race.
Chaparral beat St. Mary’s 70-65 on Monday night in the MLK Basketball Classic at Wells Fargo Arena, dropping the Knights to 0-3 in the region. St. Mary’s has dropped eight straight overall.
The Firebirds improve to 2-1 in the region with the victory, which puts them a half-game behind Pinnacle and Desert Mountain and a half-game ahead of Horizon.
Chaparral led by seven points when Zeke Chapman finished off a 3-point play with 1:45 remaining in the contest. However, St. Mary’s scored six points in 13 seconds when Gianni Dailey converted a 3-point play and Bryan Rhymes hit a 3-pointer following a Chaparral turnover.
Chapman hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to three points, and then stole the ball on St. Mary’s ensuing possession. Chapman hit two more free throws with 10.3 seconds remaining to extend the lead to five and clinch the victory.
“They were trying to go for a quick two and we came up with a good steal,” Chapman said. “It was a nice win. Our region is probably one of the best, if not the best, in the state, so any win is good.”
Joe Boyd led the way for Chaparral with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and Chapman added 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Chaparral made 21 free throws on 32 attempts, a 12-point edge over St. Mary’s, which finished 9-of-16 from the charity stripe.
Chaparral led by nine points at the half, but St. Mary’s whittled away the deficit midway through the quarter, closing to 49-45 heading into the fourth.
“We need to clean it up,” Chaparral coach Aaron Windler said. “It’s too good of a region to have lapses.”