DOUGLAS, Ariz. ---Sweet shooting, stellar defense, and a monster second half factored into the fourth seeded Arizona Western Matadors (18-13 overall, 11-11 ACCAC) knocked out the top seeded Cochise Apaches (23-8 overall, 17-5 ACCAC) 72-59 Saturday night in the Region I Semi Final.
It’s the fourth consecutive appearance in the Region I Final for Arizona Western, and sixth in nine years under Head Coach Charles Harral. Meanwhile, Cochise is eliminated in the semi’s for the second straight year despite consecutive conference championships.
Cochise looked like home court would be plenty advantageous in the first half as ACCAC Player of the Year Naje Smith tallied 16 points in the first half and the Apaches held a six point lead at the half.
But Arizona Western quickly turned the tide in the second half. The Matadors erased the deficit minutes into half before extending the run to be a seven point lead by the midway point of the period.
Cash Williams was especially on target, knocking down five three’s in the game and the rest of the Matadors followed suit.
Daniel Kiely dropped in a pair of three’s as did Gio Nelson and Pharoh Allah. Lawrence Long added a three as well.
It was the highest total number of three’s for the Matadors in any one game this season and it came at the perfect time.
The three-point shooting seemed to energize the Matador defense and the Matadors slowed Smith in the second, as he added just seven more points. Damon Wall was the only other Apache in double-figures.
In contrast, all five starters for Arizona Western scored double-figures with Williams and Nelson leading with 17 a piece.
The win sends Arizona Western to the Region I Final for the fourth consecutive year and to second seeded Eastern Arizona on Monday at 7:30pm in Thatcher. It will be a rematch of last season with a different setting as AWC held off Eastern in Yuma.
The game will be available via live stream on the Matador Athletics Facebook Page.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.