Do You Believe in Miracles?

The Knights varsity men's basketball team won a thriller over Santa Cruz Valley 60-59.

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Do You Believe in Miracles?

Habi Ortiz is locked in during warm-ups for Varsity's match-up against Santa Cruz Valley.

Habi Ortiz is locked in during warm-ups for Varsity's match-up against Santa Cruz Valley.

Habi Ortiz is locked in during warm-ups for Varsity's match-up against Santa Cruz Valley.

Habi Ortiz is locked in during warm-ups for Varsity's match-up against Santa Cruz Valley.

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What is a miracle? According to the dictionary, a miracle is an amazing, unbelievable event or achievement. That would only begin to describe the feat that ACP Varsity Men’s Basketball Team pulled off on Thursday night. Just when all hope looked lost for the Knights trailing by 27 points at halftime, an unpredictable turn of events saw the Knights turn that deficit into a one-point victory over the Dust Devils of Santa Cruz Valley, 60-59.

What Went Wrong?

The first half of this game was dominated by the Dust Devils. The Knights started off slow, falling behind 13-3 four minutes into the game. This was because of poor shooting, whether it be in the field or at the free-throw line, bad defense, and many other costly mistakes. The Knights looked lost at the beginning of this game, turning the ball over, not rebounding, or making their free-throws. However, there was a glimmer of hope as the first quarter ended with the Knights only trailing 14-6. The defense had appeared to have figured out what was wrong and was stopping the Dust Devils offense, keeping the Knights in this game. However, offensively, nothing was clicking, as the Knights were only able to muster up two 3-point shots in the entire quarter while also missing all four of their free throws.

This slight glimmer of hope was dashed almost immediately in the second quarter, as the Knights fell victim to an 8-1 run by the Dust Devils to start the quarter, putting them up 22-7 with six minutes left in the first half. Turnovers, missed free-throws, and the inability to rebound on either side of the ball continued to haunt the Knights in the second quarter, as the Dust Devils began to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring the Knights 26-7 in this quarter alone, taking a 40-13 lead into halftime. In the first half, the Knights were only 1-for-13 from the free-throw line and had turned the ball over numerous times, giving the Dust Devils extra opportunities to score, and score they did.

The Second Half

This game is a story of two completely different halves. Basketball games are four quarters long, not two, which meant no matter how slim the odds, the Knights still had a chance to at least redeem themselves and show that this first half was just a bad half and not a true representation of the team. Whatever Coach Martinez said to his team in the locker room at halftime struck a chord with his team. The Knights looked like a completely different basketball team in the third quarter than they did in the first half starting out the third quarter by holding onto the ball on offense, not turning it over, while forcing turnovers of their own on defense. They were able to take advantage of these extra opportunities, scoring 13 unanswered points to shrink a 27 point deficit to 14. Rebounding also played a key role in the Knights turnaround, giving them extra opportunities to score on offense, while also keeping the ball away from the Dust Devils offense. However, free-throws were still an issue, as the Knights only made 3 of their 6 free throws in the third quarter. That was about the only thing that could stop the Knights in the third quarter, as they were able to outscore the Dust Devils 25-8 in the quarter, which brought the score to 48-38 Dust Devils.

The energy was brought back to the gym heading into the fourth quarter. A quiet graveyard-like atmosphere quickly turned into a raucous madhouse after the third quarter. There was now a possibility that the Knights could actually come back and win this game. The fourth quarter started out with an 8-1 run by the Knights, who pulled within three points with the score 49-46 Dust Devils. The defense continued to force turnovers, which fueled the comeback bid. What seemed like an easy blowout win for the Dust Devils had turned into a competitive nail-biter. The tension continued to build as the clock kept ticking and the Knights continued to inch closer. The Knights free throw shooting improved this quarter, with the Knights making a total of 5 of their 8 opportunities in the quarter, four of which came within the last two minutes of the game. Trailing 57-53 with under a minute left in the game, junior Habi Ortiz sunk a three-pointer to bring the Knights to within one, 57-56. On the Knights next possession, following two free throws by the Dust Devils, Freshman guard Xavier Hendrix came in clutch for the Knights, draining a three with 21 seconds left to tie the game at 59. The Knights had come all the way back from a 27 point deficit, but it would all be for naught if they couldn’t get the ball back one more time and score to win the game. On the ensuing Dust Devils possession which lasted only 11 seconds, The Dust Devils missed their opportunity to take the lead, giving the Knights the ball back with 10 seconds left with an opportunity to win the game. After about six or seven seconds of the Knights throwing the ball around, the ball was put into freshman Lucas McDougall’s hands. He was fouled as he attempted his shot, giving him two free-throws with only one second left. He missed the first one. The next shot was nothing-but-net, and the gym erupted. The Knights now led 60-59 and had to prevent the Dust Devils from scoring in under two seconds. The Knights would do so, pulling off the improbable comeback, outscoring the Dust Devils 47-19 in the second half and improving to 9-1 on the season.

The Stats

Junior Habi Ortiz was the main contributor for the Knights on Thursday night, finishing the game with a double-double, compiling 19 points and 18 rebounds to go with 4 assists and 3 steals. Sophomore Diego Navarro and freshman Xavier Hendrix both chipped in 12 points.

While the Knights did end up putting up 60 points, it could have easily been a lot more. The Knights made only 29% of their attempted field goals, as well as only making 29% of their 3 point attempts. The Knights went only 9-for-27 at the free throw line, good for 33%.

Luckily for the Knights, they were able to give themselves every opportunity to complete this miraculous comeback by compiling a total of 49 rebounds, 21 on offense, 28 on defense. The defense also came up big, coming up with 11 total steals.

What’s Next?

The Knights next game will be next Wednesday, January 17th against Leading Edge Academy in Gilbert. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. The next home game for the Knights will be on Friday the 19th against Gilbert Classical Academy, with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 P.M.