Gaona in the Game: Cotton stretches game at Providence

2013-03-29T00:00:00Z 2013-03-29T15:05:35Z Gaona in the Game: Cotton stretches game at ProvidenceDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star
March 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Former Palo Verde star Bryce Cotton hit similar buzzer-beating three- pointers to make SportsCenter's Top 10 plays twice in the last five days.

However, that wasn't the highlight of his week. Cotton, a 6-foot-1-inch guard at Providence College, arranged for his mom, Yvonne, and three relatives to attend his team's NIT quarterfinal game Wednesday night at Baylor. They made the approximately 16-hour drive to Waco, Texas.

"It was really big-time for my mom to come because (the game was) the day after the anniversary of when I lost my grandmother last year," Cotton told me Thursday. "And she was from Texas, so that game was very meaningful to me even though we didn't come out with the win."

Cotton led Providence with 23 points but the Friars lost 79-68. The former Titan averaged a team-high 22.7 points in the team's three NIT games.

Cotton had a huge junior season: He was selected to the All-Big East first team and led the conference in scoring at 19.6 points per game, which former Palo Verde coach Chris Klassen, who has kept in touch with Cotton, called "unreal."

"Hopefully his NBA draft stock rises," he said.

Cotton also hit 98 three pointers to break Billy Donovan's school record, set in 1987. He led the conference in made three-pointers, averaging 3.1 a game.

"A lot of things I accomplished this year I didn't necessarily have on my calendar to do," Cotton said. "It was a whole bunch of stuff that kind of happened from just playing hard. It's been a real blessing, I thank God for it all the time."

At the end of the first half against Baylor, he pulled in a steal and sank a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer. That play gave him ESPN honors for the second time in the week.

The first time was for a deep game-tying three-pointer at the halftime buzzer in a 77-68 win over Robert Morris on Monday night. He scored 20 points in that game.

"It's definitely been a great year," Cotton said. "That was a blessing as well, having two top- 10 plays in the same week."

Cotton said the biggest thing he did this year was create for others off his jumper. Klassen said the three-pointer was a result of the fact that Cotton "really busted his (butt) on in the summer and offseason."

It clearly paid off.

"It couldn't happen to a better kid, he's so hard working and humble," Klassen said. "He just keeps his head down and works. This year was a perfect example of that."

Now that Cotton has his first postseason appearances under his belt, he's hoping to continue the success.

"It was a very satisfying year but it's no time to get complacent," Cotton said. "I have to continue working hard."

This year was the first time Cotton can remember not filling out an NCAA tournament bracket because he was too busy with the NIT. Although not doing one felt strange, it's something he could get used to.

"Hopefully next year," Cotton said, "I won't have to fill one out again and we'll actually be in the NCAA tournament as well."

Ironwood Ridge-Hamilton game called off by AIA

Division I and II state champions Chandler Hamilton and Ironwood Ridge were scheduled to play in Week 5 of the 2013 football season. Not anymore: The Arizona Interscholastic Association called it off this week.

Ironwood Ridge will start the season at home against Peoria Liberty and have a bye in Week 5. The Lions went 10-2 last year.

Hamilton will now play Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Week 5. Mountain Pointe had an open date that needed to be filled by another Division I team.

The AIA stepped in and arranged for Hamilton to fill in the gap.

"We were looking forward to playing them because we always like playing teams that had nine or 10 wins the year before," Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson said. "The only way to get ready for the playoffs is to play a team like Hamilton."

Lancer wins 1,600, runs fastest time in nation

Salpointe Catholic senior Andy Trouard, featured in last week's Gaona in the Game, won the 1,600 meters at the 73rd Chandler Rotary Invitational on Saturday. His time of 4 minutes 8.28 seconds broke the meet record and is the fastest high school time in the nation.

Contact reporter Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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