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Boys 1A final: Cliff captures 12th championship


They have been winning state boys basketball championships at Cliff since 1982. The 12th such title came on Saturday morning in the Pit, courtesy of a rangy, experienced bunch of Cowboys.

Cliff, the top seed and defending Class 1A champ, built a 26-point lead, then stopped No. 2 Springer 56-45 for the 2016 trophy of blue.

“Not many classes can say they won three of four championships,” said 6-foot-9 senior Holt Shelley, whose dunk put Cliff up 51-25 in the third quarter. “We’ve been playing together since the seventh grade. It’s like family.”


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“We’re more like brothers than teammates,” echoed Cliff senior Heath Henderson. “It feels good to win with your brothers.”

The first 10 Cliff titles came under coach Pete Shock, who guided this year’s crop of eight seniors when they were freshmen. The last two have come courtesy of his son, Brian.

“These guys are a tremendous group,” Brian Shock said. “We drilled and drilled and drilled. They’ve worked hard and bought into the defense.”

Shock singled out Henderson’s defense and ball-handling.

“He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever coached,” Shock said.

The Cowboys (22-6) were imposing inside, with Shelley delivering 19 points (including his fulfillment of a dream to dunk in the Pit) and 19 rebounds.

But the Red Devils (26-5), took the early 9-2 edge on a 3-pointer by junior Estevan Romero, who scored 22 points.

Cliff, however, responded with a 15-3 run, then began the second half with an 11-0 push.


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“Early on we had those looks,” Springer coach Jimmy Apodaca said. “If a couple had fallen, it would have been a different game. I think Cliff’s experience paid off.”

The Red Devils did outscore the Cowboys 15-5 in the final quarter, even with standout player Isaiah Garcia having fouled out.

“When I went back in I prayed, ‘Pleased don’t let me foul out,'” Garcia said. “I took two dribbles, pushed off a little bit and got my fifth foul. When I was on the bench, all I could think of was that the loss was going to be all my fault.

“But I’m glad these guys kept fighting. It showed heart. From all our guys. None of them hated me. Just pure team work.”

The Red Devils, who had no seniors in their regular rotation, figure to be back.

“A lot of us were awestruck,” Garcia said. “We’re all 16. We’re still growing. … Next year we won’t be so shocked by the Pit.”

Shock, too, is already looking ahead.

“High school sports is like a train,” he said. “It keeps chugging along. Players get on. Players get off. … We’ve got another crew coming. We’re excited to see what they do the next two years.”

NOTE: Cliff assistant coach Chelsea Shock hobbled up and down the Pit ramp Saturday morning with a large brace on her knee.

She was on a rafting trip on the Gila River a couple of weeks ago when a friend’s young daughter fell into the water. Shock saved the girl, but wrenched her knee in the process.

“I was just trying to keep a little girl out of the water,” Shock said, shrugging it off.

Her husband, and Cliff head coach Brian Shock said: “My wife, Chelsea, I can’t say enough about what she’s done.”

Chelsea, who has helped the Cowboys win two Class 1A titles in a row, guided the Aztec girls to the 2007 Class 4A state championship.


Class 1A Boys

Championship, the Pit


SPRINGER (26-5): Bryan Romero 0-0 0-0 0; Jacob Quintana 4-5 0-2 8; Ryan Gallegos 1-1 0-0 3; Damien Blahbach 2-10 0-0 5; Estevan Romero 8-21 1-2 22; Isaiah Garcia 2-7 1-2 5; Chris Casias 0-0 0-2 0; Zac Caldwell 1-1 0-0 2; Zach Sanchez 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-46 2-8 45.

CLIFF (22-6): Brett Perry 0-0 0-0 0; Garrett Palmer 0-0 0-0 0; Heath Henderson 3-5 2-3 9; Gage Massey 0-1 0-0 0; Holt Shelley 9-15 1-2 19; Matt Overstreet 2-4 0-0 6; Tyger Parkey 3-8 0-0 6; Derek Runyan 0-1 0-0 0; Taylor Barnwell 1-5 3-4 6; Roger Neil 0-1 0-0 0; Jace Jenkins 4-12 2-2 10. Totals 22-52 8-11 56.

Springer        15   8   7 15 — 45
Cliff        21 17 13   5 — 56

3-Point FG: S 7-27 (Quintana 0-1, Gallegos 1-1, Blahbach 1-6, E. Romero 5-17, Garcia 0-2); C 4-13 (Henderson 1-2, Overstreet 2-4, Barnwell 1-5, Jenkins 0-1). Team Fouls: S 14, C 13. Fouled Out: Garcia. Rebounds: S 21 (Quintana 4); C 46 (Shelley 19). Turnovers: S 10, C 15.  Assists: S 5 (B. Romero 2, E. Romero 2); C 13 (Henderson 3, Barnwell 3).