“The championship game was an absolute battle”, said Wickenburg Christian Academy’s head coach, Brad Matney, when we asked him about the Division 1 Boys Basketball Championship game against Paradise Valley Christian Prep. “Coach Davis from Paradise Valley had an excellent game plan to take us out of what we like to do best, and his young team executed it beautifully!” Coach Brad has been coaching professionally for over 20 years, 12 at high school level and 8 at collegiate level.
Recap of the game
“They really stymied us in the first couple quarters and forced us to play a style game that was certainly not what we wanted to do”, said Coach Brad. “We made some adjustments at halftime and turned up the heat on defense in the second half.” In the 4th quarter of the game, he decided to “let the dogs off the leash” and his team went into a full court man to man pressure defense. This strategic move turned the tide of the game. Wickenburg Christian was getting steals while making their opponents take quick shots and it led to run outs on the offensive end of the floor. “We built the momentum off of that like we have all season and were able to pull out the win”, he said.
Player of the game and spotlights
Drake Matney, Coach Brad’s Junior forward son, won player of the tournament on a night when he stepped up at the right time. Down the stretch in the 4th quarter, he was almost unstoppable when he smelled blood in the water and got a head of steam built up to get to the basket.
Mark Blodgett, a sophomore PG, had a rough first half, but in the face of adversity really turned around the game in the second half and hit the three point shot to seal the victory.
Doc Massey was a beast in the third and fourth quarters around the rim, getting almost every rebound available and a few important put backs.
Ben Armstrong stepped up his defensive intensity, and like he has all year, almost single handedly turned the tide of the game with his numerous deflections and steals.
Matt DeShazo made some important passes down the stretch, and Joe Rigo had some really important minutes on the boards and on defense in the second half.
Graduating and returning players
Two seniors will be graduating this year, Ben Armstrong, our defensive stopper and team captain and Coleman Rigo, a backup swing man and my bench captain. Returning next year are my leading scorer Drake Matney, my second leading scorer and assist man Mark Blodgett, and my leading rebounder and third leading scorer Doc Massey. We also have Matt DeShazo and Joe Rigo. I have some very talented freshman and sophomores that will compete for minutes next season as well. 6’5 C Will Perkins, 6’2 SG Zion Hintz, 6’0 PF James Mack, 6’0 W Keegan Anderson, 5’10 G Evan Gustin.
Players recruited by colleges
Coach Brad is incredibly proud that a number of his players are being recruited by colleges to play next year. ”Drake Matney is being recruited in both baseball and basketball. He isn’t sure which he’d like to do, but will practice hard at both over the coming year and see what his options are at the end of next season. Mark Blodgett is starting to get some colleges that are interested in him as well. He is going to have an incredible career and will have numerous offers by the end of his time in a Lions jersey. Doc Massey has just started to gain some interest as well, but also has a ton of interest in him in football, so he will have a lot of options in the next couple years. My senior Ben Armstrong has expressed interest recently in playing college basketball and is looking to continue his career”, he said about some of his star players.