Chaparral earned its second consecutive trip to the 5A Division II boys basketball state tournament semifinals with a 63-47 win over pesky Lake Havasu on Saturday night at Chaparral.
The Firebirds made it to the semifinals of the 4A-I state tournament in 2009, so the big stage is nothing new to the eight seniors on Chaparral’s roster. The Firebirds face Desert Valley region rival Pinnacle on Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena.
Senior guard Zeke Chapman was the ring leader in helping the fourth-seeded Firebirds build a 21-8 lead at the end of the first quarter as it appeared the Knights were outmatched and undersized.
“I don’t think we have ever had three teams make it to three final fours and to be a part of that is great,” he said.
The second quarter however got a little sloppy as Lake Havasu got back to within nine points at halftime.
“We didn’t value the ball enough at times and got a little bit careless in the second quarter with careless turnovers” Chaparral coach Aaron Windler said.
Early in the third, the Knights cut the lead to seven and Chaparral starting center Joe Boyd left the game with his fourth foul. The Firebirds, however, went on a 7-0 run to push the score back into double digits where it would remain for the majority of the second half.
“Defensively our guys played great especially in the fourth quarter, and I think that was the difference in us holding on to the big lead and closing them out,” Windler said.
Boyd eventually fouled out with 3:01 left in the game, but made a big impact in limited time scoring 16 points with five rebounds.
Chapman led the Firebirds with 19 points and also dished out nine assists as Chaparral came out the aggressors.
“I think we got a little complacent with the big lead,” Chapman said. “Our coach has been telling us all year to handle success. We really had to take a deep breath and realize they would turn up the pressure so we had to slow it down.”
Jake Roh added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Firebirds, who lost to Pinnacle both times during the regular season, including a one point defeat at Pinnacle.
The Firebirds will also be looking to get back to the 5A-II finals were they lost to Anthem Boulder Creek by one point last season.