Arcadia Titans trounce Ironwood Ridge to start 5A girls basketball playoffs

Arcadia guard Jada DuBois (11) passes the ball to guard Bryce Nixon (24) and goes to set a screen against the Chaparral defense during the Firebirds’ 54-42 win over the Titans Friday, Jan. 12. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The No. 5 Arcadia High School girls basketball team got its 2018 5A state playoffs off to a solid start with a 56-26 win over No. 12 Ironwood Ridge High School Nighthawks.

Much of the first quarter was both teams establishing a physical presence, going at each other hard. While trying to find their defensive attacks and offensive rhythms, the Titans clung to an early 5-4 lead over the Nighthawks.

But Arcadia would end the period on an 8-0 run to take a 15-4 lead into the second with six of those points coming from senior guard and Titans’ scoring leader Bryce Nixon.

“I think we took care of the little things and we played together as a team for this good win,” Nixon said. “I think we have a good press, and work really hard on that. And so we work really hard on our traps on defense, it helps generate and spark on our offense.”

Despite that aggressive defense, the ‘Hawks hung tough to start the second quarter, going on a quick 7-0 run to cut the lead to four.

But the Titans responded with another 8-0 run of their own to boost the lead back up to double digits at 12. They would maintain that margin going into halftime leading 27-15. This time, it was senior guard Cassidy Campbell leading the way with seven of those points, which included a tough, contested layup down low that also drew a foul.

“We still need to work on all the little things,” Campbell said before the game. “We just work on the little things, play as a team and not let other things get in our heads.”

Both senior guards came into these playoffs with stellar seasons while they each played all 27 games and led their teams in scoring and field goal percentage. But it was a tenacious and effective defense from the whole team that really provided a spark and dominance from start to finish.

“Well, we want the ball and we’ll do whatever we have to do to get to the ball. So we’ll put a lot of pressure on the ball,” Titans 11-year head coach Ives Machiz said.

“We rotate well, we cover; if somebody is out of position, we get somebody back there. And then we don’t give up on the play. Somebody will get back into that position by helping the helper … transition baskets are the easiest ones to score. So if our defense is doing what it does, then we’re going to score a lot more on transition”

That defense would help steady the team the rest of the way in the second half as the Titans would outscore the ‘Hawks 29-11 to secure the 30-point win to start their playoff run.

And even when their aggressive defense seemingly looked too aggressive, Coach Machiz said he recognized how well all of his Titans stepped up.

“I want to give a shout out to our juniors too,” Coach Machiz said. “We had some seniors in foul trouble, and they came in; and you know what? They held up the game and held their part of it. So it was a great performance from everybody.”

As their quest for state championship continues, the Titans’ next opponent will be No. 4 Centennial High School in Peoria at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.

Around the Horn

No. 11 Hamilton 74, No. 6 Desert Mountain 67 — After finishing the season with a 22-7 overall record, the Desert Mountain girls basketball team fell at home to the lower-seeded Hamilton High School. The Wolves automatically qualified for the playoffs after finishing as one of the top-eight teams in 6A.

No. 5 Xavier 52, No. 12 Horizon 23 — Throughout the game, the Horizon Huskies struggled to keep up with Xavier Gators. Xavier led 27-15 at halftime and used a 22-4 push in the third quarter to solidify the win. Horizon ends the season with a 16-14 overall record.

No. 1 Chaparral 62, No. 16 Campo Verde 33 — The top-seeded Firebirds will continue their playoff run after their dominant win over the lowest-seeded Coyotes. Chaparral will go on to face No. 9 Agua Fria Saturday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be at home for the Firebirds.

Editor’s Note: Arturo Spell is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass communication. Also, Josh Martinez contributed to this report.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment