The top-ranked University of Arizona Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team beat No. 5 Auburn 71-69 on Friday to advance to the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NIWBT) championship game against No. 2 Alabama slated for Saturday at noon Tucson time in Whitewater, Wisconsin.
The Final Four match was tied at 31-31 at the half and Auburn led 57-54 with 5:45 left in the game. The Wildcats built a 67-62 lead with 2:52 left the but the Tigers cut that lead down to 69-67 with less than 50 seconds remaining. Arizona junior Tyrone Griner scored a bucket with 40.4 seconds left to put the Wildcats up 71-67 but Auburn had one final shot to tie the game at the buzzer but the shot rolled off the rim, sending the Wildcats to the national championship game. Alabama beat No. 3 Illinois 66-59 in the other Final Four game.
Arizona beat Southwest Minnesota State 81-59 on Thursday to send the Wildcats to the Final Four.
The Wildcats earned some major awards with junior Justyn Newman named Player of the Year, First Team All American and Academic All American. Senior Michael Seo was named Second Team All American and he earned the Frank M. Brasile Sportsmanship Award. Freshman Dylan Zander earned a spot on the All Rookie Team and Ben Thornton, Kerwin Haake, Blaise Mutware and Phil Evens were named Academic All Americans.
NOTE: I was an assistant coach for the men’s team from 1983-1996.
LINK: LIVE FEED OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
FOLLOW @ANDYMORALES8 ON TWITTER
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org