Sunnyside’s boys basketball team has struggled in close games all season, but Wednesday night, in another tight battle, the Blue Devils finally broke through.
Sophomore Jacob Inclan led Sunnyside with a game-high 23 points, including a huge go-ahead three-pointer to end the third quarter that helped the Blue Devils hold on for a 51-49 win at Cienega.
“For once, we’ve won a close one,” Sunnyside coach Rob Harrison said. “Up to this game, we’ve lost three games by one possession.”
It was a bit of a homecoming for Harrison, who is in his second season with the Blue Devils but spent four seasons coaching the Cienega girls team. Naturally, he said it was special to come back to his old home and get a win.
“I told the guys yesterday that this one was a little more personal for me,” Harrison said. “I enjoyed my time at Cienega, but it was time to make a change, and I couldn’t be happier at Sunnyside.”
Especially after a huge win that included 16 lead changes in the second half.
“This is a great win,” Inlcan said. “We haven’t won a close game all season, and just to pull one out against a team that’s one of the top teams in the state is a great feeling.”
Sophomore Cesar Ozuna made a jumper from the right side with 2:21 left in the game to put Sunnyside up 50-49, and the Bobcats were held scoreless on their last four possessions.
The most significant one came when Inclan took a charge against Cienega senior Shane Burton with 27 seconds left.
“I was trying to take him the whole game, and some of them weren’t going my way and some of them were,” Inclan said. “I’m glad they finally called one, because we needed it bad.”
Cienega (5-3) tied up the inbounds pass and got a jump ball with 24 seconds left. That set up a good look for senior David Rauer on a three-point attempt, but his shot went in and out. Inclan got the board, and was immediately fouled with six seconds to play.
He made the first free throw but missed the second to put Sunnyside up 51-49. The Bobcats would get one last chance.
After a Cienega timeout with five seconds left, Burton took the inbounds pass and drove down the court. He got a pass off to Rauer, who was set up for another three on the left side, but couldn’t get it to fall. The Bobcats finished 4 for 16 from beyond the arc.
“We’re not shooting well right now,” Cienega coach Matt Johnson said.
“If we knocked down a few more shots tonight, maybe the outcome is a little different.”
While the records would indicate the win for Sunnyside (7-6) was an upset, Johnson said it just shows parity among local teams and that there is no clear favorite in Southern Arizona.
“It’s going to be a ballgame every night,” Johnson said. “A lot of teams are going to get beat. There’s people calling this an upset, but it’s not.”