Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Brandon Napier drives during Thursday night’s 3A Boys Basketball State Playoffs opening-round win 83-64 over the No. 17 Chinle Wildcats.
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – It was the swan song for Thatcher’s seniors, as they finished their final home game Thursday night with an 83-64 opening-round win over the No. 17 Chinle Wildcats.
“(The) guys played great tonight,” said Thatcher head coach Kyle Hull. (They) played together and with purpose tonight. They played with a lot of heart. (I) love being a part of it and the energy in the gym was amazing! (I) love this town and all the support.”
The Eagles (9-0 3A South, 18-8 overall) will now travel to face No. 1 Valley Christian on Saturday, Feb. 18, starting at 7 p.m. at Valley Christian High School at 6900 W. Galveston St. in Chandler. Get tickets here from GoFan.
“Valley is tough but we are looking forward to it,” Hull said. “(They are a) well-coached, disciplined team, but we are looking forward to the challenge. Saturday will be here before you know it and I can hardly wait!”
Thatcher came out like a rocket and exploded for 25 first-period points, but Chinle ran with them and hit for 21 to keep it close.
The game was tight until the fourth period, where the Thatcher offensive juggernaut went for 28 in the period while holding Chinle to 16 to cruise the last couple of minutes to victory.
Senior Bradley Curtis led the way in the first and pivotal fourth and went for a game-high 34 points (8-8 free throw) and 15 rebounds to give him 616 points on the season, according to stats by MaxPreps. Prior to the playoff game, Curtis was averaging 21.6 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Junior Christian Carter helped put the Wildcats away with 8 of his 18 points in the fourth.
Senior Cody Jones finished his last year’s campaign with a double/double of 10 points and 12 rebounds in his Dennis Romanesque self.
Senior Brandon Napier, who earlier this season eclipsed the 1,000-point mark, hit a deep shot in the second and finished with 9 points. Other scorers included Landon Duncan with 5, Bryce Larson with 3, and Brett Jones and Wyatt Nicholas with 2 points each.
Delaney Bahe led Chinle with 21, followed by Joastaiah Harvey with 20. Other scorers included Tegan Halwood with 10, Cashin White with 6, Jaiden Lee with 3, and Antwian Bahe and Shey Burbank with 2 points each.
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