MLK Classic: Catalina Foothills 66, Sabino 52: Falcons make most of prime-time shot

Mack, Nehls score 18 apiece at McKale as team wins 19th in row
2013-01-22T00:00:00Z MLK Classic: Catalina Foothills 66, Sabino 52: Falcons make most of prime-time shotDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As the No. 1 boys basketball team in Division II and riding a big winning streak, Catalina Foothills has been ready for the big stage.

The Falcons got that chance Monday night at McKale Center, and they didn't disappoint.

Foothills (22-1) cruised to a 66-52 victory over Sabino in the second-to-last game of the Martin Luther King Classic - the Falcons' 19th straight win of the season.

Juniors Chaz Mack and Austin Nehls each scored 18 points, but the Falcons proved they have more than two weapons as they beat Sabino for the second time this season.

Dakota Kordsiemon (13 points) and Ryan McHenry (12) put up double-digit figures to help Foothills stay perfect against Southern Arizona teams.

"The big thing is that we're trying to be a team," Foothills coach Mark Felix said. "It's our goal for everyone to work together and take advantage of all the different qualities that each player brings, and I think the guys understand what each player can bring."

Nehls, the son of former UA star guard Joe Nehls, got a chance to walk in his father's footsteps playing on the same McKale court. However, Austin said he treated it like any other game.

"I just focused like always and knew we needed to get a win to keep our top spot in the rankings," he said.

Nehls added that his dad told him the rims at McKale were "the best he ever shot on."

Foothills definitely made the rims look good, too.

Mack made a layup nine seconds into the game, and Foothills jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.

Sabino (7-15) bounced back to lead briefly when Matt Bushman, who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

But the Falcons regained the lead in the final minute of the opening quarter after Nehls hit back-to-back baskets and never trailed again.

"Everyone distributed, and we just played their weaknesses and we played our strengths, and we fed off of that," Mack said. "We basically played team ball."

Even though it was the Falcons' 19th win in a row, Mack made it clear the team won't be satisfied unless its wins a state title.

"We just have to work together and play smart, play as a team," Mack said. "Nineteen wins is great but it's still not as good as winning a state championship."

Felix is hoping Monday's game won't be the last time the Falcons play on the big stage. They play at Amphitheater today and have five regular-season games left before postseason tournaments begin.

"We were excited to be here for the MLK Classic and if things all go well hopefully we can play at another arena later this season," Felix said.

Bushman, a junior, is hoping Sabino can play at McKale Center again next year after his second straight double-double there. He had 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 51-49 win over Catalina last year.

"I just try to show up when there's a lot of people around," Bushman said. "I try to get my team going so we can get a win."

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