Tuesday night Salpointe Catholic faced off against Catalina Foothills for an all-Tucson semifinal for the right to go to the state 4A championship game. The two opponents have fought in close games against each other all season long, with both walking away with a victory.
The game was sold out and standing room only by 6 p.m. an hour before tip-off making for an electric atmosphere on Glenn and Mountain.
With all the hype surrounding the game, it couldn’t possibly live up to the billing but it did. It was an epic battle between the top two teams in Tucson that went down to the last minute.
In the end, Salpointe was able to hold off a determined Catalina Foothills team 56-50 for the right to advance to the championship game.
Coach Jim Reynolds talked about the second-half surge by Catalina Foothills and how his team was able to finish off the game as the pressure higher as the game moved along.
Catalina Foothills found itself down by 13 points early on in the third quarter. They were able to fight back, changing the momentum of the game with every basket made. Still, every time the game got within three-points, Salpointe and star guard Evan Nelson were able to extend the lead back to eight or nine points.
It wasn’t just Nelson who put on a show with his 18 points for Salpointe; in fact, the player who led the team in points was Jordan Gainey with 19 points of his own. The two combined for 37 points of the Lancers 56 points.
After the game, Nelson talked about playing in front of the home crowd one more time and what the victory means not only for himself but for his team.
Reynolds has coached high school basketball at the highest level in Arizona and Ohio. Reynolds talked about his team and what they’ve meant to him.
In the history of Salpointe basketball, it has never won a state title. They have been in the championship game, but have never been able to finish the season on top.
Now, with the title game set, No. 2 Salpointe (29-1) will play No. 1 Peoria (26-3) on Saturday at noon at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.