So far this season, the Lake Havasu boys’ basketball team has had a knack for finding ways to pull out victories late in close games. Tuesday night was no different.
With 6.8 seconds left and the Knights (3-0) trailing by 1, senior Bradley Rogers drove into the paint and found a wide open senior Jayden Azar along the baseline who hit a game-winning jumper as the buzzer went off to give the Knights a 53-52 victory over Yuma Catholic.
“I saw a group that just didn’t give up. Those kids fought until the final buzzer,” said head coach Ted Darnell. “For a being a young team with minimal varsity experience, it is such a good sign to win these close games.”
After a first half which was closely contested, the Shamrocks took control in the third quarter, opening up a 10-point lead.
However, the Knights closed the gap with a run early in the fourth quarter, thanks to some clutch shots from Azar.
He buried a 3 to tie the score with 3:45 left, but Yuma Catholic scored the next four points to retake the lead.
With roughly 90 seconds remaining, senior Junior Bolden was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and was sent to the line where he made two of three free throws to cut the lead in half.
After a stop on defense, the Knights got the ball back and after a timeout, Azar hit a contested 3 to give Lake Havasu a 1-point lead with 45 seconds left.
The two teams swapped turnovers on the next two possessions, and with under 10 seconds remaining, the Shamrocks scored to take back a 1-point lead.
Havasu inbounded the ball and called timeout, where Darnell set up the play for the game-winner.
“We knew they were a good team, but we hit some shots and got some defensive stops and capitalized when we needed to,” said Darnell. “The kids came through tonight. Bradley did his thing and Jayden got open and hit a great shot.”
Azar led the Knights with 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Bolden finished with 17 points, while Rogers added 13.
Carlos Delgado led Yuma Catholic with 17 points.
Lake Havasu will return to action Thursday in the Southwest Rotary Classic in Yuma. The Knights are scheduled to open the tournament against Casa Grande at 5:30 p.m. Their next game will be either at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Knights are guaranteed to play at least four games in the tournament.