Down 13-5 with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Salt River head coach Jeff Johnson shouted to his team, “Forty seconds—work the ball a little.” Aaron Reyes put up a last-second attempt at the buzzer, but it hit the front of the rim and bounced to the floor.
It was the Salt River High School boys junior varsity basketball game against Tempe Preparatory Academy, on December 16. In the second quarter, the Eagles struggled to box out and were giving up both offensive and defensive rebounds to Tempe Prep. Late in the first half, Richard Marez put up a shot, but it bounced out; Harold Yazzie was there on the put-back, making the score 30-13 for Tempe.
“Our team still struggles as far as understanding the concepts of our offense,” Johnson said. “Like when to cut, where to cut who, and how to screen right. We know how to set up, but are still not able to run it through more than once and are not very trusting in it just yet. The great thing is that when we are open for shots, we don’t hesitate to take the shot and really find ways to get it in the rim. So offensively I think we are OK for a junior varsity–level environment.”
Salt River headed into the third quarter with a jumper, but traded baskets with Tempe Prep, who sustained their 17-point lead. At the end of the quarter, Yazzie played solid defense as Tempe Prep moved the ball around the court and forced a missed shot.
Despite trailing by 29 points with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Salt River continued to play hard and work on their game. Tempe Prep was on a fast break when Marez hustled down to the opposite side of the court to earn the block. However, the trailers for Tempe Prep recovered the loose ball and finished the basket. Marez made the final score for Salt River as he drove to the basket, but the Eagles fell 59-25.