It was a jumper just inside the arc with seconds ticking off the clock by Salpointe Catholic’s senior Isaac Cruz that gave the Lancers a 57-55 overtime victory over No. 3 seed Catalina Foothills and a shot at the state championship.

The final play in Thursday night’s Class 4A state semifinal game looked spontaneous, but it was by design.

A few weeks ago, with the Lancers in the middle of two-game losing skid, Cruz stepped up with a message to his team.

“We were at rock bottom,” said Salpointe coach Brian Holstrom. “With tears in his eyes, (Cruz) told this team, ‘I want you to believe the rest of the way.’”

The Lancers (22-9) responded by reeling off five straight wins, none bigger than the overtime victory.

Holstrom called a timeout with eight seconds left in overtime on Thursday, the score tied at 55.

“In that huddle, we didn’t want it in anyone else’s hands,” Holstrom said. “I wouldn’t have wanted that win any other way.”

Onto Saturday’s state title game where the No. 2 seed Lancers will face top-seeded Phoenix Shadow Mountain (26-0), a team coached by former Arizona Wildcat legend and NBA star Mike Bibby. Sophomore guard Jaelen House leads the Matadors, averaging 22.4 points, five assists and six steals per game.

Do the Lancers have one more in them?

“They are one of the best teams in the nation,” Holstrom said. “We’ll get back to our routine after a little recovery from this one. I am fortunate that I have guys who still want to be in the gym this time of year. Everything we have left is for Saturday.

“We can play loose and free now. We have to go represent Tucson and a terrific Catalina Foothills team. They had a heck of a season and rung our bell twice.”

Rim shots

  • The Gregory School’s top-seeded boys team beat Valley Lutheran 60-51 in Friday’s semis. The team will face NFL Yet in Saturday’s final at Prescott Events Center. The game tips off at 1 p.m.
  • The Gregory School’s third-seeded girls basketball team to fell to No. 2 Rock Point in Friday’s Class 1A state semifinals at the Prescott Valley Events Center.