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Comeback fit for a King
Kofa outscores Yuma 21-3 in final 3:25 to win regular-season title
Yuma High used runs of 15 straight and seven straight points and led Kofa by 11 with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left.
And with a raucous home crowd behind them, the Criminals seemed destined to lock up the regular season 5A Division II Gila Valley championship.
But the Kings scored 21 points in the final 3:25 and stunned the Criminals 60-53 on Thursday.
The Criminals (14-4 overall, 9-2 region) took a 50-39 lead with 3:56 left when Steven Rojano scored the last of his team-high 18 points on a tip-in of a miss. Just 31 seconds later, Tyler Turner hit Kofa's first 3-pointer of the game to kick off a 9-0 run. Ricardo Quintero made his second 3 of the game for the Criminals with 1:50 left - the only non-turnover in a stretch of five possessions for the Criminals - to seemingly regain momentum and a 53-48 lead.
But Kevin Folsom answered with a 3-pointer of his own for the Kings (11-7, 11-1), then Simon Corea stole the inbound pass for another easy bucket to tie the game with 1:26 left. Folsom scored on a field goal and a three-point play on the next two possessions while shutting Yuma down defensively and the Kings rolled from there.
"It feels great. I'm at a loss for words, honestly," said Folsom, still winded 10 minutes after the game ended after scoring a game-high 26. "I just don't know what to say."
Kofa coach Danilo Montialli knew just what to say about the game his team led 16-6 and 24-15 early before giving up 15 straight to fall behind, peaking at the 11-point Yuma lead.
"It took us a while to shake it off, but our kids have such a huge heart," Montialli said. "They battled fatigue and came through with a lot of determination at the end. When Yuma thought it was over, our game fought through."
Yuma coach Louie Pisano said the Criminals just got a little wrapped up in the excitement of the extremely loud home crowd.
"I take some of the blame myself," Pisano said. "We just didn't do a good job. We started shooting when we shouldn't have shot. We should have just controlled the clock, stayed patient on the offensive end. Plus we missed a few layups that hurt and gave them a chance to get back in it."
And so Kofa, playing without a home gym due to damage to the one on their campus, secures the top seed for the region tournament thanks to its two regular season victories over the Criminals.
"Not having a gym to play or practice, having to travel every day to practice, I think it's great (to win)," Montialli said. "The kids have great heart and they represented Kofa today very well. I couldn't be more proud."
Notes: Carlos Wallet scored 11 for Yuma High, while Rojano had a double-double with 11 rebounds and also had five blocks. Mitchell Harmon had eight rebounds for Yuma but shot 2-for-13 from the floor. Quintero was 2-for-12 for Yuma, which shot 21-for-62. ... Corea had 11 for Kofa, while Anthony Avalos had 10 rebounds off the bench. Alex Caceres had nine boards for the Kings.