Panthers Fall Short of Title Dream

Skyline Prep Defeats IP-Superstition for Championship

By Daniel Dullum

A highly-successful boys basketball season came to an end for Imagine Prep-Superstition on Feb. 22 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, when the Panthers fell to Phoenix Skyline Prep 59-46 in the CAA Division III championship game.

The No. 6-seed Panthers finished their first season under Coach Travis Gordon at 16-5 overall, 8-3 in region play. Skyline Prep completed its title season 23-2.

“We accomplished something many didn’t think was possible in our first year,” Gordon said. “These young men put it all on the line, but unfortunately came up short.

I hurt for them, because they wanted the title so bad, but it was a successful season. Seeing the growth from our preseason tourney to the finals was expected.  We wanted to get better as the season progressed and we did. That’s all a coach can ask for, to peak at the right time.”

Freshman Tavares Broady led the Panthers with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Anthony Lerma was next for Prep with 14 points, and seven rebounds, and Dallas Pina was next with nine points, four assists and five rebounds. Sophomore Reggie Johnson was the Panthers’ leading rebounder with 10.

The loss also marked the last game for IPS seniors Lerma, Pina and Wayne Young.

“I owe my seniors a ton for setting the foundation for future teams,” Gordon said. “They will be missed, but it was their leadership that got us that far and made the season such a success.”

SEMIFINALS

Imagine Prep reached the championship game by defeating Phoenix Maya 44-27 on Feb. 17 at South Mountain Community College.

The Panthers’ Tavares Broady hit 8 of 14 from the field – including 4 of 8 3-pointers and 5 of 8 free throws – for a game-high 25 points. Dallas Pina was next with seven points, and Jorge Garcia added six.

IPS shot 36 percent (14 of 39) on field goals, including 4 of 15 3-pointers, but the Panthers held Maya to four points in the third quarter and eight points in the fourth.

“(Maya) paid attention to their scouting report, and we’ve been in the situation of having to play back-to-backs,” Gordon said. “As for the lid on both baskets, that was just nerves you get playing for a state championship. Our star players were missing layups and free throws.

“We’ve had spurts like that all year where we were focused on defense and locked teams down. When we don’t have the mental breakdowns, these guys can really play some defense.”

Reggie Johnson grabbed 12 of Prep’s 35 rebounds, followed by Anthony Lerma with eight, Garcia with six and five for Broady. Garcia had six assists and two steals, Broady and Pina each had three steals, and Lerma, Garcia and Johnson each had two steals.

Photo above: Imagine Prep-Superstition in pregame warmups prior to the CAA Division III boys basketball championship game on Feb. 22 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. (Photo courtesy IPS/Facebook)

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