Fri, Jan. 24

Cowboys hoops advance to quarterfinals
Boys win in OT against Thatcher, then take on Desert Christian

Down by two points with under a minute left in regulation, Austin Beeler came up big with a 3-point shot to give the Cowboys a one-point lead. Thatcher tied the game up with a free throw shot as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

This was the first overtime game the Camp Verde boys basketball team had played all season long. Despite the immense pressure, the Cowboys held tough. After the overtime period was through, the Cowboys walked away with a close 69-67 victory over Thatcher in the first round of the 2A State Playoffs Friday night.

The Cowboys started off strong in the first quarter, outscoring Thatcher 18-12. Jordan Lewis got into foul trouble early and had to ride the bench for the better part of the first half. Even with his absence, Camp Verde worked together. Thatcher used the opportunity to get back into the game and, at halftime, the Cowboys led by only three.

In the third period, the Cowboys extended their lead again by 10. Thatcher wasn't about to go quietly and made an offensive run to cut the Cowboy lead down.

"After they made the run at us, it was just an absolute dog fight," coach Darren Gagnon said.

The two teams battled back and forth as it came down to the wire. The Cowboys were down by two with a minute left. Thatcher had the ball, but great defense by the Cowboys denied Thatcher the inbound play and they turned it over to the Cowboys.

With about 40 seconds left on the clock, the Cowboys in-bounded it to Beeler, who hit the clutch 3-pointer to give the Cowboys a one-point lead.

"That was probably Austin's biggest 3-pointer of his career," said coach Gagnon.

Thatcher got the ball back and was fouled. They made one free throw, which tied the game up again at 61-61. With the ball back in Thatcher's hands, the team called a timeout to run a play. Camp Verde defended the play well and got the ball back with 1.6 seconds left. The Cowboys ran their own play to try and get the lead, but the shot missed and the game went into overtime.

Neither team could score for the first couple of minutes. Camp Verde finally broke the silence and went up, then they went back and forth through most of the period.

Then with about 45 seconds left, Camp Verde went up by two points. Thatcher fouled Ricardo Pacheco, who made one point at the foul line to get the Cowboys up by three. Thatcher scored a basket to bring the game to within one. Seth Mosely was fouled on Camp Verde's next possession and he made both foul shots to make it to a three-point game again.

With 15 seconds left, Thatcher hurried their inbound play. In a heads-up play, Austin Beeler stole the ball by intercepting the pass. Thatcher fouled him. He made one of two shots at the line to put Camp Verde up by four. Thatcher scored a basket on the next possession to cut the lead back to two. Freeman was sent to the line on the next possession and made both free throws. Down by four, Thatcher made one more basket. With the ball in Camp Verde's possession and 1.5 seconds left on the clock, the Cowboys in bounded it and held on as the buzzer went off.

"The 2A North prepared us for pressure situations," said coach Gagnon. "That mental toughness was important in beating Thatcher in the 1st round."

The leading scorer for the Cowboys was Matt Freeman with 20. Playmaker Beeler ended the night with five points.

"Austin has no fear," said coach Gagnon. "He is never afraid of anyone or any situation. He does all the dirty work, he defended, rebounded and came up with some good plays at the end."

Camp Verde continued its trek through the State Playoffs with a game against Desert Christian. Desert Christian upset Northwest Christian in the first round.

"I didn't expect to see Desert Christian beat Northwest," said Gagnon. "I don't know the first thing about Desert Christian, but if we play our game, we should be fine. We will work on us executing on what we need to do on offense."

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