Rincon/University 66, Cienega 61: Dramatic 3-pointer paves way to OT win

Miranda gives Rangers new life with tying jumper in regulation
2013-01-09T00:00:00Z 2013-01-09T10:00:36Z Rincon/University 66, Cienega 61: Dramatic 3-pointer paves way to OT winZack Rosenblatt Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When Cienega and Rincon/University face off in boys basketball, it's often close.

Last year, one of their matchups went into four overtimes.

On Tuesday night at Rincon, the Rangers won 66-61 in another overtime contest, outscoring the Bobcats 11-6 in the extra period.

But Rincon almost never got to that point, needing a huge three-pointer in regulation to survive.

With 23.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Cienega (11-5) held a 55-52 lead over Rincon (10-9).

Kevionte Alexander, who sliced and diced through the Bobcats' defense all game long, missed an off-balance three-point jumper. Rincon's Charles Muse grabbed the offensive rebound, but could not hit the put-back.

After the miss, and a fight for the rebound, the ball caromed out of bounds, and referees ruled it to remain Rincon's possession.

"We just needed the rebound," Cienega coach Matt Johnson said.

The Rangers had a designed play for a three-pointer in the corner from Michael Miranda, one of the team's best outside shooters.

Rincon's Asha Esprit, one of the top big men in Southern Arizona, told Miranda to focus on the shot and nothing else.

"He's our shooter," said Esprit, who had 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. "I told him to black out and shoot it."

With 2.4 seconds on the clock, Miranda nailed the long-range jumper in the corner, sending the game into overtime.

"It was the play, but the screens didn't happen quite where we wanted them to," Rincon coach Rich Utter said. "But it was the right play, getting it where we wanted it and making the shot. Once in a while those go in."

After the first quarter, though, it didn't look as if the Rangers would be in a position for a victory.

Rincon turned the ball over four straight times and missed its first four shots, and finished the quarter trailing 12-2. Esprit was held without a field goal attempt in the quarter but finished the game shooting 7 of 16 from the field.

In the second quarter, the Rangers flipped the script and outscored Cienega 25-6 to go into halftime with a 27-18 lead. The hot streak continued into the third quarter, and Rincon entered the fourth with a 45-37 lead.

"We got really stagnant on offense," said Bobcats guard Shane Burton, who scored a game-high 24 points and made 8 of 8 free throws. "We played a little bit slack defense, and it wasn't good. We gave up so many offensive rebounds to (Esprit), and he finished everything. He's the best big man maybe in the state."

Johnson cited rebounding as the difference in the game.

"We came up one rebound short," the Cienega coach said. "(The Rangers) are a big team, and we have to get better."

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