Two of the state's best teams in the state met Saturday evening in the Division-I state playoffs as Cesar Chavez (25-5) and Buena High School (24-6) faced off.
The game featured two teams with similar fast-breaking styles and good athleticism. The difference in the game would turn out to be the size and length of Cesar Chavez, led by 6-foot-5 sophomore Pablo Rivas and 6-foot-6 senior post LJ Harmon.
The play of Chavez 5-foot-11 senior guard JD Reagan would also make a major difference, as he would blow up in the game's fourth period to put the game out of reach.
Buena would take a 14-12 first period lead after an offensive rebound and put-back just before the buzzer.
In the second period, Pablo Rivas would make his presence felt. Rivas would steal the basketball and travel the length of the floor for a two-handed dunk, and then score again inside the paint to keep the game tight.
A mid-range jumper and another basket inside the paint by Buena's 6-foot-3 senior guard Marc Matthews would tie the game at 18 with 4 minutes left to play in the first half.
Buena would then take a 23-21 lead after a three-pointer by 5-foot-9 senior guard Kyani Dillard with 2:37 left to play.
Cesar Chavez would then finish out the half on a run, and after an inside basket by Rivas, Chavez would take a 29-25 lead into halftime.
The third period would tell the tale for this one, as Chavez would outscore Buena 25-10 in the period. Two consecutive baskets inside by Rivas would break the game open with 5:30 left in the period, as Chavez would take a 10-point lead, 38-28.
After another basket inside by Rivas, his third consecutive basket, Chavez would lead 40-28, and then turn on their full court press. The press would work as Chavez would create turnovers. 6-foot junior guard Tyler Bell would get a transition layup, and then steal the basketball only to get another layup after being fouled. Bell would miss the free-throw for the tree-point play, but would give his team a 44-28 lead with 3:44 left to play in the period.
Then 6-foot-6 senior LJ Harmon would be inserted into the lineup, and he would come into the game with excellent energy. Harmon would complete a strong, two-handed dunk after a nice assist in the paint. Harmon would then run the floor hard and complete a layup in transition - putting Chavez up big, 54-35, to end the third period.
In the fourth period, Buena would make a nice run of their own, and after a three-pointer from 5-foot-7 senior point guard Marcus Mears, the Chavez lead would be cut to 10 points, 54-44 with 5:10 left to play.
Then Chavez's J D Reagan would turn it on to bring it home for the Champions. Seven points in a row for Reagan, including a three-pointer would give Chavez a 65-49 lead with a minute left to play.
Chavez would win the game, 65-53, and advance to the Division-I state quarterfinals where they will face Red Mountain HS on Wednesday afternoon at Arizona State's Wells Fargo Arena.