Burke Leads Brophy Past Hamilton

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Head Coach Doug Harris and the Hamilton Huskies (17-6) have been rolling a pretty good wave all season.  As of late, that wave has been a little up and down.  After very impressive back-to-back wins against Red Mountain and Desert Vista, two of the top teams in the state, they would fall to Perry at home. They would return to the court to blow Basha out - heading into their match-up at home on Senior Night against Brophy Prep (21-1), the #1 ranked team in 6A.  In the first contest between the two, Brophy edged out Hamilton in their house in a one-point victory, 48-47.

Brophy Prep came into the game on a 9-game winning streak since it’s loss to Federal Way (WA). The Broncos have run the table thus far within the state, with impressive wins over some of the top teams in Arizona. The game was one circled on the calendars for many.

Both team would come out of the gates moving the ball and being selective on their shot attempts. Hamilton would commit some silly turnovers early but would stay in it by bringing some good defensive play to keep them afloat. Brophy’s ability to hold the more athletic Huskies to one shot by picture perfect box-outs was the primary reason for their early lead.

Brophy’s 6-foot-4 senior guard Ian Burke would get back-to-back buckets to make it 14-10 with 2 minutes left to play in the opening quarter.

Hamilton would go cold from the field, missing wide open outside looks as Brophy clogged anything coming down the lane and getting the ball out of Hamilton’s star 6-foot-4 senior guard Rashad Smith’s hands before he could do any considerable damage. Brophy would take that same 14-10 lead into the 2nd quarter, as neither team scored inside of 2 minutes.

In the first minute, Smith would finally make his impact as he would pull a jack move on the defensive end that would lead to a transition lay-up by 6-foot-2 junior guard Malik Whitaker. However, Burke would come back and answer with a bucket for his 10th point in the early minutes of the game.

Hamilton’s defense had no answer for Brophy’s precision on their back-door cuts to the rim. With 5 minutes to go in the half, Brophy’s 6-foot-3 junior guard Marques White would nail a 3-pointer to give the Broncos a 6-point lead. On the defensive end, their 6-foot-7 senior forward Jaxson Baker protected the rim like a certified bodyguard, as Burked continued to pick Hamilton’s zone defense apart.

Brophy’s 5-foot-11 junior guard Ryan Gilburne would rattle in a 3-ball to make it 30-19 with two and a half minutes left on the clock. On the other side of the floor, it was Brophy’s 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Basil Ribakare’s turn to hold down the paint as Baker did earlier in the quarter, as he swatted away multiple Huskie shot attempts in the paint in the later minutes of the first half.

However, Hamilton would kick into gear in the last 2 minutes by speeding the pace up with full-court man-to-man defense. The Huskies 6-foot-4 senior forward Ryan Engemann would hit a 3-pointer to get them back to within 8. Two possessions later, Smith would make a hard drive to the basket to slice the lead to 5 going into the half.

But Hamilton would return from the locker rooms cold as a popsicle, as Brophy would score on 3 straight possessions to stretch the lead back up to 11 less than 2 minutes into the second half. While Hamilton was making some defensive plays above the rim, they failed to corral the loose ball on the ground which limited their ability to get out in transition and utilize their athleticism.

Smith would try to keep them in the fight with a pretty up-and-under reverse lay-up while slicing through multiple Bronco defenders to get them back to within 7 with just over 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He would follow that up with a strong one-handed jam in the open court on the next possession to make it 42-37.

However, Burke would answer the bell again, canning another 3 coming off of a screen to end the quarter up 45-37.

Brophy would hold pat early on but Smith would turn his motor up midway through the 4th quarter. With four and a half minutes to go in the game, Whitaker would rip Burke and get it passed ahead for a 2-hand jam to get the Huskies to within 5.

But the Broncos would do what they specialize in, getting the lead and taking the air out of the ball late with discipline. While playing a game of keep-away, there was little Hamilton could do to sneak back in the game. White would hit 4 big free-throws late as Brophy would get the best of Hamilton yet again, 57-47.

Burke would finish with a game-high 21 points, as Baker added 13 for Brophy.

Smith would finish the game with 19 points.

Brophy will get just one day’s rest before their big showdown with Pinnacle. Hamilton will try to get back on track on the road against Horizon on the Friday night.

On a side note, Burke is a real solid player. He is not the quickest or most athletic player by any means, but he just finds a way to get it done. And man, can he really shoot that ball. He needs a ton of work on being able to put the ball in his left hand, but in the right system he could be a deadly scorer from the outside, especially if he is able to play off the ball.

Baker is as tough as they come. He is really a lane protector in all facets. He affects the game with disrupting shots with his physicality and owing the boards. His ability to get position down low and finish strong was a difference maker.

Smith has some real skill. He hesitates to air it out from the perimeter, but he drives the ball to the rack with purpose. He attacks strong and finishes as well. He even shows flashes of play-making ability, though he is playing with some guys that don’t get the pass ready to shoot most often. He also shows flashes of a great defender but will get lazy at times and start poking at the ball after getting beat instead of squaring up into someone. One thing is for sure with the talented senior guard, if he has the ball in the open court, it is not for the weak of heart to be standing anywhere around that rim.

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