Cesar Chavez High School (27-2) has been as good as any team in the state this season, sporting a deep lineup of players that combine good size with superior athleticism. Chavez head coach Gary Lee has been extremely successful in leading the program since the school's development many years ago. Last season Chavez would reach the state final before losing to eventual state champion Corona Del Sol HS, and this season they could go one step further and win it all.
Chavez would face Millennium HS (23-5) in the Division-I, Section-I tournament championship game Saturday evening at Westview High School, after blowing out Central and Ironwood HS in their two previous tournament games. Millennium had won their previous six games on the season, including a big double-overtime win over host Westview HS in the semi-final game, 71-68.
Chavez prove to be too much for Millennium quickly in this one, behind the terrific play of ultra-athletic 6-foot-6 junior post Pablo Rivas. Rivas, one of the most talented prospects in the state and also one of the better prospects in Arizona's loaded 2014 class, has really developed his game this season - scoring in the post and also now from the perimeter.
Chavez would build a fast 13-4 lead after an offensive put-back by Rivas. After a mid-range jumper by 5-foot-10 senior guard Will Holt, a layup in transition by Holt and then a three-pointer in the secondary break by Rivas, Chavez would build a 20-4 lead with 1:44 let to play in the first period.
A three-pointer by 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard Ramon Franklin with :24 seconds to play in the quarter would finally stop the bleeding for Millennium, as Chavez would lead 20-7 after the first period.
Chavez would blow things wide open in the second period - outscoring Millennium 20 to 11 in the quarter. The strong play of Pablo Rivas would prove too much in the game's first half. Rivas would put his team ahead big, 35-17, with 1:37 left to play in the period after making another three-pointer from the wing. Rivas would then cap off the period with a strong two-handed dunk over a defender just before halftime, putting Chavez ahead 40-18 at halftime.
Millennium would fight hard in the second half, looking to get something going. With 6-foot-10 junior post Elston Jones struggling inside against the defensive pressure of Rivas, Millennium would rely on the play of Franklin and 6-foot-1 senior guard Jordan Martin in the second half. Three-pointers by Franklin and Martin in the third period would pull Millennium to within 15-points of Chavez by the end of the third period, 52-37.
Chavez would remain tough in the fourth period though, as Rivas would score inside again and then 5-foot-11 senior guard Tyler Bell would finish a driving layup to put Chavez ahead 57-37 with 6:45 left to play in the game.
After a nice mid-range pull-up jump shot by Rivas over Elston Jones, Chavez would take a 63-37 lead with 3:30 remaining in the game.
Chavez would then cruise to a nice 65-45 championship victory over Millennium, their third win in a row heading into the state playoffs. Chavez will be very tough to beat in this year's state playoffs, as they are loaded with depth and athleticism. It will take a very well coached team to slow this team down this post-season.