Fort Thomas runs past Hayden for 1A Copper/East Super Regional Championship

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The Fort Thomas Apaches cheer a score by a reserve late in their region championship victory, 70-55 over Hayden on Saturday.

Will host Round 1 state playoff game against Joseph City

By Jon Johnson

FORT THOMAS – The No. 7 Fort Thomas Apaches boys basketball team defeated the No. 6 Hayden Lobos 70-55 on Saturday to capture the 1A East/Copper Boys Basketball Super Regional Tournament Championship. 

The Apaches (8-2 1A Copper, 19-9 overall) ran all over the Lobos (8-2 1A Copper, 18-6 overall), and jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first period. 

“My boys were excited,” said head coach Matthew Dona. “We played together; we executed; we played aggressively and made our shots.”

Fort Thomas advanced to the championship game by defeating Valley Lutheran 65-40 in Round 1 on Feb. 2 and Mogollon 56-49 in the semifinals on Friday night.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Damare Dosela sizes up his defender a moment before passing by him.

Hayden advanced to the championship game by defeating Sequoia Charter 69-40 in Round 1 and Joseph City 52-45 in the semifinals.

The Fort will host Round 1 of the 1A Boys Basketball State Playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 8, against No. 10 Joseph City, starting at 7 p.m. 

Fort Thomas 70 – Hayden 55

The Fort Thomas Apaches came out running and gunning and were on fire right from the start.

Phenom freshman point guard Damare Dosela was unstoppable as he set up teammates with assists, nailed 3-pointers from deep, and drove the lane past his defender so many times he made it look easy. Dosela finished with a team-high 13 points with senior Jayshawn Rambler, who was equally dangerous from beyond the arc and with drives into the key. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Jashawn Rambler prepares to take a free throw. Rambler finished with 13 points as all five starters scored in double figures.

Brandon Garner led the way for Hayden who went for 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first period.  

However, the team effort from Fort Thomas continued with deadeye marksman Michael Stanley, who overcame a stare-down from Hayden head coach Ramon Gonzalez to nail two of his four 3-pointers in the first period to help Fort Thomas to a 23-12 lead.

The second period was the low point offensively for the Apaches, but freshman Justin Olivar hit a huge 3-pointer to help keep The Fort up 30-23 at the half. Olivar scored in each period and finished with 11 points. 

In the third, Tyler Black (10 points) had a couple of breakout layups to assist as Dosela’s mastery continued and The Fort spread the ball around. 

The fourth was a repeat as the Apaches continued to press the pace. Rambler and Dosela would isolate at the top and neither player’s defender could stop them from penetrating the lane. From there, they either popped a jump shot, hit a layup, or passed it to a teammate for an open shot. It was a well-oiled basketball machine, and Hayden was unable to keep pace. 

The Lobos’ DeAndre Collier did his best to do so in the second half with 13 of his 15 total points, and Isaac Castillo contributed with 8 points. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Michael Stanley survives the stare-down by Hayden head coach Ramon Gonzalez to nail the 3-pointer.

For The Fort, other scorers included Carmelo Robertson with 6, and Channing Wilson and Darius Miles with 2 each. 

“I’m just happy for my boys,” Dona said. “They played as a team and that’s how you win it.”

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Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The Fort Thomas Apaches are the 1A Copper/East Super Region Tournament Champions.