Ed Petruska-Casa Grande Dispatch-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Much to their great relief, there was no second-half letdown for the Central Arizona College Vaqueros in Wednesday night's basketball game at the George Young Activity Center.
Staked to a 12-point halftime lead on the strength of 11 3-pointers, CAC secured a 95-79 victory over Scottsdale by maintaining its poise and making plays at both ends in key situations.
"This was a huge win for us," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "Everyone contributed in some form or fashion. It's a good way to start off the second half (of Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play), and it gives us momentum" going into Saturday's game at Cochise.
Danny Garrick scored 33 points, a season best for a CAC player. He knocked down seven 3-pointers in the first half and provided eight consecutive points for the Vaqueros (7-12, 3-9 ACCAC) down the stretch, along with a three-point play that gave Central an 83-66 lead — it's largest of the game — with 3:04 to play
"He was due," Aaron said of Garrick, "and he'll be the first to admit that. It was good to see his shots going in."
Scottsdale (9-11, 4-8) defeated the Vaqueros 90-76 in their Nov. 21 meeting. But the Artichokes could get no closer than nine points in the second half after being down 49-37 at the break.
"I was definitely proud of the way we played in the second half," Aaron said. "It was really good to see our guys communicating positively."
The second half turned into a free throw-shooting contest. The Vaqueros went 18 for 24 from the line in the final 20 minutes, while Scottsdale was 18 of 25.
The Vaqueros were held without a 3-pointer in the second half.
Scottsdale pulled within 62-53 with 10:11 remaining on two free throws by Carlos Barela, who scored 16 points. But the Vaqueros held their ground.
After the Artichokes sliced the margin to 85-73 on Jared Finkenkeller's 3-pointer with 2:01 left, Garrick scored on each of CAC's next four possessions. Garrick began his barrage by dunking with 1:23 remaining for an 87-73 lead. He had another dunk with 31.6 seconds left to cap the flurry and put the Vaqueros up 93-77.
Nick Sessions had a team-leading 18 points for the Artichokes, who also got 13 from Austin Denham and 11 from David Beecher.
The win was the first at home for Central against a conference opponent. The Vaqueros went in trailing Eastern Arizona by one game in the race for the fourth and final Division I Region 1 tournament berth.