By Daniel Dullum
Apache Junction forward Trevor Bayer wasn’t sure if he took any of his field goal attempts inside the 3-point arc in the Prospectors’ 61-47 Black Canyon Region boys basketball win over Phoenix Cortez.
He’s not too concerned about it, though. It’s his job.
“I’m a shooter, and I’m going to shoot!” the junior forward explained.
Bayer poured in a game-high 21 points – on seven 3-pointers – against Cortez at the AJHS gym on Jan. 11. Five of Bayer’s seven 3s came in the first quarter, helping the Prospectors jump to a 23-10 lead.
“I’ve never done that in a quarter before,” Bayer said. “I’ve had five 3s in a game, but certainly not in the first quarter. That was huge.”
“Trevor got us off to a great start, and got two clutch ones late,” AJ Coach Scott Stansberry said. “That kid is shooting out of his mind right now.”
The key to shooting the 3-pointer, Bayer said, is keeping it simple – “just catching the ball and shooting it.”
“I used to overthink it, but now I’ll catch it and shoot it if I see a little bit of space,” Bayer said.
Bayer said his shooting prowess from behind the arc hasn’t produced any nicknames yet, not even for his beard.
“The beard is pretty much a personal preference,” Bayer said. “I’m really superstitious, so I’m not going to shave it! I’m not going to trim it or anything.”
Bayer added two more 3s in the fourth quarter to keep the Colts (3-10 overall, 0-2 region) at a consistent 12- to 14-point deficit. A 3-pointer by Evan Quiroz gave the Prospectors a 60-47 lead at 3:15 of the fourth quarter.
“Evan hit a big 3 on the wing. Once he hit that, I said, ‘We’re fine,’” Stansberry said. “That’s a big bucket right there, putting the lead back up to nine.”
Cortez went nearly 4 ½ minutes without scoring in the fourth quarter as AJ pulled away. The Prospectors spread the offense and effectively chewed up time to secure the win.
“I love it when we spread the floor because half the crowd loves it and half the crowd hates it,” Stansberry said. “We work on it every day, it’s a part of what we do. It’s a part of that old school mentality – there’s no point in just jacking up 3s when there’s no shot clock. And until there is a shot clock in Arizona, I’ll continue to do it. And, they had trouble guarding it.”
Quiroz added 17 points for the Prospectors, and Khadar Sheikh finished with seven points. Rashaed Gouan led the Colts with 12 points.
The Prospectors finished a busy week with a 69-55 Black Canyon Region win at Scottsdale Coronado. AJ (7-14 overall) is ranked No. 30 in the AIA 4A Power Poll and tied with El Mirage Dysart for first place in the region standings at 3-1.
“We’re excited about that,” Bayer said. “We can win this region. I think everyone in the region is beatable.”
AJ VS. DYSART
Stansberry said Quiroz was held out of the first half of the Jan. 9 Black Canyon Region contest for violating team rules. In the second half, the senior guard made is presence felt with 19 second-half points – nine in overtime.
“(The benching) kind of humbled me somewhat, showing me I can’t just do what I want,” Quiroz said. “I’ve got to be just like every other player, do what I have to do and work for my team, and be a good teammate.”
Dysart built a 37-30 halftime and led by 11 before the Prospectors used a 14-5 run – including 3s by Quiroz, Bayer and Brigham Milkey – to surge ahead 51-46.
“Once my perimeter game gets going, I can pump-fake drive and find my other teammates. It really helps open up the floor to help the team,” Quiroz said.
In the fourth quarter, AJ built a 60-54 lead with 2:43 left on a Khadar Sheikh layup. But the Demons eventually sent the game into overtime when Raphael Alvarado’s layup with :35.2 remaining capped an 8-2 Demons run.
“At halftime, we came out and pressed them, took the chance that pressing teams don’t like to be pressed themselves,” Stansberry said. “It worked. We battled back and got the lead.”
In the overtime, the Demons opened the extra period with a 4-0 run, but AJ responded with a 5-1 run to tie the game at 67-67 on a Quiroz 3-pointer. The Prospectors went ahead to stay at 70-67 on Quiroz’s three-point play with :54.9 left.
“We stayed resilient, got some stops, kept plugging away,” Stansberry said. “In the new year, it’s all about defense and all about getting stops, and we were able to close it.”
Bayer added 19 points, including four 3-pointers for the Prospectors, Milkey finished with 16 points and Sheikh had 12.
“The overtime was very intense,” Quiroz said. “Our motivation was – we need this win, because we’re going to the playoffs.”