Kyle Smith may have provided a clue to his future career on Tuesday. A doctor maybe, or a paramedic. Could be a lifeguard.
The junior forward is certainly someone that can come to the rescue which is what he did in Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s 65-55 5A Division II boys state basketball title game win over Paradise Valley.
Smith scored all 15 of his points in the second half and was huge in the fourth quarter as the Wolves tried to hold onto a lead they had held the entire game.
“I realized I need to take this game over and help win it for the team,’’ Smith said.
In the midst of a complete fourth-quarter meltdown by Desert Mountain, Smith emerged with several big baskets, rebounds and free throws.
The Wolves began the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead. With 4:25 to go, Paradise Valley had tied the game at 42. Working himself free against the Trojans’ zone trap, Smith went hard to the basket and was intentionally fouled.
His two free throws (he was 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter) gave Desert Mountain the lead for good at 44-42.
“We just needed to stay calm and keep playing like we know how,’’ Smith said.
Thirty seconds later, he converted a three-point play and what had been a tie game was now a 50-42 advantage for Desert Mountain with 3:40 left. That three-point play was the first of nine straight points by Smith as the Wolves (21-11) held off the Trojans to win their first state championship.
Smith, who averaged 13 points per game this season, learned early on that playing in a state title game is a little bit different than the regular season.
Desert Mountain coach Todd Fazio said he could see Smith was nervous early on.
“Playing in a big game got to me,’’ Smith said. “It’s a state championship game and you only get to play in one.’’
Playing against giants such as the Trojans’ Alex English and Chris Bonham also got to Smith.
“It took time for me to get into the flow of the game,’’ Smith said.
“It’s kind of hard when they’re 6-10 and 6-11. It’s kind of hard to get open.’’
Once Paradise Valley went into its half-court trap, the quicker Smith was able to get away from English and Bonham and get to the basket. With that, he got the Wolves to a championship.