Casa Grande High School's Gauchos played their way into exhaustion, but not victory in the finals of their own Brett Callan Memorial Tournament Saturday evening, losing to Fairfield's basket-seeking Falcons, 58-53.
The fast-paced, tenaciously played championship game took its toll on both teams as it came down to the final minute and a half before the talented Falcons could claim the championship trophy. Players from both sides left the last ounce of effort on the court and several were gasping for air and playing on wobbly legs in the final hectic moments.
Fairfield was clinging to a 54-51 lead when Casa Grande asked for a time out with just 1:43 left.
The Gauchos never got closer. With 1:10 left, Fairfield's Anthony Bryant Jr. bounced in a 3-pointer to up the Falcon advantage to 57-51. Jon Christy crept the Gauchos a little closer with a pair of free throws after being fouled trying to go back up with an offensive rebound, but nothing else would fall for the Gauchos in the final seconds, and Javon Adams added a superfluous Fairfied free throw to close it out.
There was a marked difference in style, but not in result, as the teams traded the lead right up until the very end. With tournament Most Valuable Player DeMoriaye Hart-Spikes leading the way, the Falcons continually drove to the hoop, mostly looking for in-paint buckets, although they did aid their cause with seven 3-point connections. Hart-Spikes finished with 17 points, while Javon Adams added 10 and Maurice Trotter seven. Both were named to the all-tournament team.
The Gauchos, as they did the entire tournament, revolved their offense around senior guard Cetrick Yeanay. The senior followed up a 39-point performance the night before in a win over Analy with 28 in the tile game. He also had four rebounds and contributed four assists when he wasn't putting the ball in the basket.
The Gauchos dominated the Falcons on the backboards with 37 rebounds to 18 for the Falcons.
Will Crain, solidified a position on the all-tournament team with eight points and eight rebounds. Christy had his best game of the tournament with 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
"I was pleased," noted Casa Grande coach James Forni. "Each night our level of play increased. We played very tough, but we made costly turnovers when we had a chance to turn the tide."
Casa Grande had 13 turnovers, not an overly high number against a talented team like Fairfield, but several cam at crucial times when the Gauchos were on the verge of going on potentially game-changing scoring runs.