The best Tucson high school basketball player of his generation sat in a Phoenix-area hotel room last March with his best friend, depressed, shoveling ice cream into his mouth.

Terrell Stoglin had a half-gallon of vanilla; his best friend, then-senior shooting guard Mark Simmons, ate Cookies and Cream.

Hours earlier, Stoglin and Simmons had come within one shot of lifting the burden. For the third straight year, the Santa Rita High School Eagles lost in the Class 4A-II state title game in Glendale.

The Eagles had trailed 50-35 with under four minutes remaining, but rallied back. Down two with 1.7 seconds left, the Eagles went for the win, in-bounding the ball to Stoglin in the corner. The 6-foot-1-inch guard launched a fadeaway three-pointer, but it missed the rim altogether.

"We pouted," said Stoglin, who is now a senior and has signed a letter of intent to attend Maryland next year. "It was frustration and sadness. Every time we lose, I take it upon myself. I felt like we could have done better - or that I could have made that last shot."

That feeling hasn't gone away. With about a month to go in his senior season, Stoglin has already broken Tucson's all-time scoring mark. But there's something he has yet to do: win a state title.

Earlier this month, he walked into coach Jim Ferguson's office following the Eagles' second loss to a Tucson team in two weeks.

"He said, 'What do I need to change?' " Ferguson said.

The coach was impressed. Tucson's best scorer ever was asking what else he had to do.

"This whole year, that's the only thing that's been on my mind," Stoglin said. "What can we do to get a ring?"

When he was 3 years old, after watching a family member drum, Stoglin sat down at a drum kit and started banging away, in rhythm. When Stoglin was 8, he learned how to play little songs on the organ in an hour or two.

So maybe it wasn't surprising that, that same year, Stoglin learned he was gifted at basketball. His father, Joe, a former Pueblo High School and Pima College player, had played basketball with his son in the backyard when Terrell was a toddler.

Joe Stoglin took his 8-year-old son to the downtown YMCA to sign him up for his first league. After running him through a skills test, YMCA officials asked if he could play in an under-12 league. He was supposed to play with the under-10 kids, but was too good.

"He got pushed around, shoved around, but he got better," Joe Stoglin said.

A similar moment played out six years later. Ferguson planned to play him on the junior varsity team as a freshman, but changed his mind after a couple of open-gym practices. As the season opener grew near, he was placed on varsity. Then Ferguson decided to start the freshman at point guard in the opener against host Tucson.

"I was shaking, praying," Stoglin said. He controlled the tempo, and the Eagles won the game.

"I remember saying to an assistant, 'We'll find out today just how good Terrell is,' " Ferguson said. "He was the most dominant player on the floor."

The buzz surrounding the left-hander spread in December 2007 when, as a sophomore, he dueled with future USC star DeMar DeRozan, taken ninth overall in the 2009 NBA draft. Stoglin scored 35 points.

"People were saying, 'You're good, but you're from Tucson," Stoglin said. "I was even hearing that from guards from Phoenix."

Stoglin has become probably the best Tucson-area basketball recruit since Sean Elliott graduated from Cholla in 1985. Stoglin, who averages 27.9 points per game, broke the city's career scoring record Jan. 22, passing Cholla forward Chuck Overton's 2,535 points scored from 1989 to 1992. Stoglin has scored 2,618 points.

It's part genetics, part hard work. Stoglin thinks he got his long-range shot from his father, and still plays basketball at the rec center on Saturdays after high school games. This summer, he played with Southern California-based Pump N' Run Elite on the AAU circuit.

After receiving interest from more than 60 schools, Stoglin chose Maryland from finalists that included San Diego and Texas A&M. He cited the Atlantic Coast Conference as the reason why, though he said that if Lute Olson or Josh Pastner were at Arizona and showed interest, "I'd be a Wildcat."

The 18-year-old said that because the team has traveled out of the city to play better competition the Eagles sometimes "don't give Tucson teams much credit." But losses this month have changed his team's focus.

"We can lose," he said. "Coach is happy that now we know that. I feel like our losses are making us better. We're seeing our flaws now."

Stoglin hopes that gives the Eagles a jump-start on returning to the state championship for the fourth time in his career - and winning it. The first trip, as a freshman, was fun at the time, he admits.

But after losses by five, four and two points in title games, Stoglin knows he has unfinished business.

"You play every season to win a championship," he said. "But when you finish second three years in a row, it's not fun any more."

Hoops junkie

Terrell Stoglin watches a lot of basketball. When the Santa Rita High School star guard finds himself with free time, he often watches NBA TV, trying to steal a move or two from the pros. Here are six players Stoglin likes, and what moves he patterns himself after:

• Jerryd Bayless' pull-up jumper. Stoglin saw the former UA player when he played at Phoenix St. Mary's. "That's my shot right there," Stoglin said. "I love that shot."

• Brandon Jennings' and Damon Stoudamire's left-handedness. As a southpaw, Stoglin admires the one-time UA recruit and the Wildcats legend, respectively. "I watch Brandon on TV all the time, and I always watched Damon," he said.

• Kobe Bryant's fadeaway. A common debate among Stoglin and his teammates is whether the Black Mamba is better than LeBron James. Count Stoglin in Kobe's camp. "We kinda think alike, I think," he said. "He wants to be the best. He continues to work."

• Steve Nash's and Chris Paul's court vision. As a point guard, Stoglin said, he can appreciate how the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Hornets leaders control the game.

Terrell Stoglin

• School: Santa Rita High School, senior

• Age: 18

• Fast facts: Is Tucson's career high school scoring leader. … Has one brother, 14-year-old Terrance, who plays on the Santa Rita JV team. … He and his brother were challenged to a Christmas Day game by their basketball-playing dad, Joe, and uncle, James, but Terrell said the two got too full after dinner. … Said he first recognized he could play collegiately when he was 14. … Used to play drums in church.