Nogales wasn’t expected to be a factor in the Arizona high school championship picture after being matched up with top-seeded Raymond Kellis in the semifinals, but after defeating Saguaro of Scottsdale 57-44 in the finals Saturday evening, the school has won its first state title since 1983.
"It’s unreal how excited these people are," Nogales coach Ricardo De La Riva told the Arizona Republic. "It’s lifted everybody in the community. Our administrators were so supportive. Lastly, I want to thank God for keeping me here and winning a state championship."
Nogales (25-5), a school south of Tucson on the Mexican border, trailed 22-18 at haltfime but scored the first five points of the second half to take take a 34-32 lead entering the final stanza in the game at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb.
Nogales dominated from there as junior guard Joseph Moreal scored 14 of his 20 points to put Saguaro (23-9) away for good. It was Monreal's second straight outing of 13-plus points in crunch time as he scored 13 of his 25 in the fourth quarter in the upset of Raymond Kellis.
Saguaro, which entered the game with a 15-game winning streak after an 8-8 start, was led by senior guard Jack Connors with 18 points.
Both teams were surprise finalists in Arizona's Class 4A Division I. Saguaro's tallest player is 6-5. Nogales' tallest is 6-3. Saguaro beat No. 2 seed Peoria 36-33 in the semifinals while Nogales beat No. 1 Kellis 63-60.