It took all 32 minutes, but when the buzzer sounded Saturday, Feb. 24, the Rancho Solano Mustangs boys basketball team became state champions.
Playing not just against the No. 3 Alchesay High School Falcons, but also their contingent of 5,000 fans, the No. 4 Mustangs came away with a 69-62 victory in the 2A state championship game at the Prescott Valley Event Center.
The Mustangs jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and used stifling defense to hold Alchesay to one of its lowest scoring half of the season with Rancho Solano leading 38-17 going into the second half, a press release states.
The lead would increase to 26 points before Alchesay began a comeback attempt. With an aggressive defense and outside shooting, the Falcons fought back to cut the lead to six with less than two minutes to play.
However, it was the Mustangs that made crucial plays down the stretch to close out the game.
Hunter Ruck collected an offensive rebound and scored, extending the Mustangs’ lead to eight with less than one minute to go, and clutch free throws from Nikc Jackson and Tyson Legner kept Alchesay at arm’s length to close out the game.
Caden Hoffman led the Mustangs with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists and Ruck had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and was a 6-for-6 from the field.
A big factor in this game was the Mustangs’ depth and crucial contributions came from every member of the team.
Legner and Kiimani Holt both scored in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. John Gorgol contributed six rebounds and stellar defense, Jackson made key free throws down the stretch despite foul trouble, while Brett Hardt Jr. made a first-half half basket and was fouled to convert the three-point play.
This is the first Team State Championship in school history and the team also set school records in almost every team-related category this season, according to a release.