10-4: Tenth Seeded Titans Push To State Semifinals

The Arcadia boys basketball team has gone through it’s ups and downs this season. The Titans opened the season with three losses, but were able sport a regular season record of 18-8. They ended their regular season with a loss to Moon Valley, and Paradise Valley knocked them out in the first round of sectionals. The Titans drew a ten seed entering the state tournament and have been just fine sporting the underdog title.

“Everyone is talking about how we should be losing all of our games. That is what we feed off of, and that is what we like to hear,” senior forward Avonte Nelms said. “We want to prove everybody wrong every game.”

They have done just that.

After those two losses, the Titans were able to regroup and refocus. The tenth-seeded Titans were dominant in the first two rounds of the playoffs, outscoring Cactus Shadows and Gila Ridge by a combined 142-80.

Second-seeded Cholla Magnet was up next for Arcadia Thursday. The Chargers presented some challenges with a roster featuring Jorge Carrasco, who averages nearly 23 points a game. Tough defense and great ball distribution helped the Titans bury the Cholla, 68-56.

“Our defense really shined. The last few games, we’ve played great help-side defense, great team defense. We’ve kind of turned a corner in the last week or two,” Arcadia head basketball coach Stephen Danford said. “We changed up our defense a little bit and I think that confused them a bit in the fourth quarter.”

The Titans now sit in the final four in Division-II. They have a talented and experienced roster including Nelms, senior big man Connor Nichols, and sophomore Matt Burton.

“It’s pure leadership,” Danford said. “They’ve just stepped up. They’ve decided this is our last year. Some of them are going to go on and play college basketball, some of them aren’t. So this is it. They’ve kind of taken that to heart and a ‘Why not us?’ kind of attitude.”

If the Titans have proved anything over the past three games, it’s exactly that: Why not them?