Pueblo’s Santiago hits game-winner against Sahuaro; Hill eclipses 1,000 career points

Pueblo’s Isaiah Hill flanked by family members after eclipsing 1,000 points in his career (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Fitting that only one side of the bleachers was down for the fans to sit at Pueblo’s Lafayette Lever Gym, making the court similar to a stage on Thursday night.

The headliner with the spotlight was Pueblo’s Isaiah Hill in the epic 4A Kino matchup with Sahuaro, won by the Warriors 47-46 behind 32 points from the junior guard.

Needing only a basket to eclipse 1,000 career points, Hill achieved that in only 27 seconds with an and-one.

“This is a big game; I didn’t really care about the 1,000 points,” said Hill, who reached the milestone in 64 games. “This is a big win. If I didn’t score … If I had to score zero and get us a win, I’d say, ‘I’ll do it.'”

Sahuaro, the No. 5 team in the state’s Open Division and No. 2 in 4A, was attempting to take a commanding lead in the 4A Kino against Pueblo, its top challenger.

The Cougars defeated the visiting Warriors 62-50 a week ago.

Sahuaro is now 17-3 overall and 4-1 in region play. Pueblo is 17-6 and 4-1.

Each of the teams has three region games remaining.

“Nobody really talks about us here in Tucson or around the state,” said Pueblo coach Daryl Jones, whose team was out of the 32-team Open Division field before the game. “We’ve got one of the best players in Tucson … not only Tucson, but the state. (The win) just shows that we’re not one player. We’re an actual team.

“We had someone who made the game-winner who is our seventh or eighth man.”

Carlos Santiago, a senior forward, played the part of the supporting cast member well at the climax.

In the game that had eight lead changes and six ties with neither team ever taking a double-digit lead, Pueblo trailed 46-45 with 35.1 seconds left after Sahuaro’s Erick Delgadillo made two free throws.

The prevailing thought in Lever Gym was Hill taking the go-ahead shot before the 30-second shot clock expired.

Hill penetrated the lane and drew four defenders before kicking it out to freshman guard Anthony Carranza, whose 3-point attempt was off. Santiago grabbed the rebound and his shot was short. Hill manage to tip the ball off the rim. Santiago grabbed the rebound and scored with 8.8 seconds left.

“Carlos Santiago — one of the best athletes in the city — he came up strong,” Jones said. “We always tell our players, ‘Stay ready and be ready.’ He doesn’t play that much but he was ready today. He played a lot of minutes and he hit the game-winner, which is remarkable.

“It was a good win for him. He’s a senior so he’ll remember that for the rest of his life.”

Pueblo had fouls to give and used two of them, causing Sahuaro to have its last inbound play start with 3.5 seconds left.

Nick Ponds, a proven clutch player, took the inbound pass and penetrated to the lane. His running one-hander missed off the back of the rim as time expired.

Ever the competitor, Hill was not fulfilled with the victory.

“Just because we won this game, don’t think that’s where we need to be,” Hill said. “We can always get better I feel like we could improve a lot more. That game, we should’ve won by double-digits, but we made a lot of mistakes. I just feel like we have to get better.”

Hill said that he was “more of a football player than a basketball player” going into his freshman year, making eclipsing 1,000 career points in only three years that much more remarkable.

“I fell in love with basketball,” he said. “I can grind. The effort pay-off is a big part of it. I’m proud.”

He said he has to make up his mind this summer whether he will play quarterback his senior season for Pueblo football coach Jake Allen.

First things first: finishing this basketball season on the grandest stage — an Open Division playoff appearance or spot in the 4A state tournament.

“We don’t care who we play,” Jones said. “Me, my coaching staff and our players, we just want to play the best and see what we can do.”

Sahuaro travels to Sierra Vista on Friday to play a non-region game against Buena.

Pueblo next plays at region-foe CDO on Tuesday.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top