PRESCOTT VALLEY – Kris Lamberson and his basketball teammates from Phoenix Arizona Lutheran Academy had experienced a lot of heartache the last few years as the Coyotes fell short in the 2012 and 2013 state championship games.
They earned another chance and on Saturday (March 1) finally accomplished their goal, holding off a big rally by Scottsdale Prep to claim the Division IV championship with a 73-65 victory at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Second-seeded Arizona Lutheran led by more than 20 points during the game, and saw Scottsdale Prep get as close as three (60-57) with 1:56 left in the game. Lamberson hit six free throws in the remaining time and Eric Trevizo hit a pair of free throws to help turn back the tide.
Lamberson finished with 25 points and Trevizo and Brady Cook each scored 14 points. Scottsdale Prep was led by Nick Smith with 28 points and Matt Munsil with 18.
Long-time ALA coach and athletic director Doug Meyer said he was relieved to finally get the title, “but I’m even more happy for the kids. They, especially the seniors, have been through a lot of heartache.’’
With such a big lead, he thought at times that his team played not to lose rather than played to win, “and that (playing to win) is hard to do sometimes. I think we lost our mental edge a bit.’’
Meyer lauded his defense, which kept Scottsdale Prep’s high-octane guards under control for a large part of the game.
When Scottsdale Prep was cold early, Arizona Lutheran’s taller players would get the rebounds and rarely allowed second shots.
“Some of our big guys are good rebounders, but they also play good defense and they are pretty athletic,’’ Meyer said.
Lamberson also made a key defensive play, blocking a layup with about 1:35 left. He got the ball back and was fouled, sinking two free throws.
“We worked so hard to get back here and the third time was a charm,’’ said Lamberson, who was able to share the title trophy with brother and teammate, B.J.
Of the block, Lamberson said, “I knew he was going for the basket, and if I got the block, that would be big. They had a big comeback and we knew they were not going to give up.’’
Arizona Lutheran cut down the net and Meyer raised it in the air, pointing toward the team’s fans, who chanted, “A-L-A, A-L-A.’’
It indeed was a moment to remember.