Easy or not, Gophers Win and Advance

3 weeks ago Andrew Luberda 0

Like some other Florence boys’ basketball games this season, last Saturday night’s second-round 3A state tournament victory against Globe didn’t come easy.

The No. 7-seed Gophers surrendered a 15-point lead in the third quarter before pulling away in the final minutes against No. 10 Globe at Poston Butte High School, 74 – 67.

Nick Tucker (13) puts up a shot between a pair of Tigers’ defenders during last Saturday’s playoff game. Photo: Kelli Luberda

Easy or not, all that matters at this time of the year is winning and advancing.

“I gained some more gray hair tonight,” Florence head coach David Silvas told CountyLinePreps.com afterwards. “With our team it never is any easy win, and it’s always nerve racking, but we did what we had to do when we had to do it.

“They really wanted it at the end, and I’m very proud of them.”

The Gophers did make it look easy during a first half that saw them open a double-digit lead behind the hot shooting of junior guard Nick Tucker, who scored nine of his game-high 26 points in the opening quarter.

Florence kept Globe, led by high-scoring junior point guard BJ Burries, at arm’s length throughout the first half. The Tigers could not contain Tucker and 6-foot-6 junior center Rarey Sommer, which allowed the Gophers to hold a 36 – 29 advantage at halftime.

A 10 – 2 Florence run to open the third quarter, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers by Jared Wood and a pair of field goals by Aaron Chapple, increased the Gophers’ lead to 46 – 31, and with 3:43 left in the quarter they were up 52 – 37.

Florence senior Aaron Chapple releases a jump shot during Saturday’s victory. Photo: Kelli Luberda

During those final three-plus minutes the Tigers outscored the Gophers 18 – 4 and trailed only 56 – 55 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We just got a little lax,” Silvas answered when asked how the Tigers erased a 15-point deficit. “We opened a big led and I think our kids thought we got it, we got it, we got it.”

“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game, even if we were up by 15 or 20.”

The game was tied 62 – 62 with 3:47 remaining before Florence closed out the win, ending with a 12 – 5 run to advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinals versus Winslow at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

What was the difference down the stretch for the Gophers?

“We said enough is enough and we got back into it,” Silvas responded.



Gophers’ Leaderboard:

Points:  Tucker – 26, Sommer – 16, Chapple – 11

Assists:  Wood – 3, Travis Armstrong – 2

Rebounds:  Sommer – 13, Tucker – 10, Wood – 8