Cochise and South Mountain Junior College both came into Wednesday evening's contest tied for first place in the ACCAC Conference, for their respective divisions. While Cochise held the first place spot in the conference for division-I schools, South Mountain was tied for the first place spot for division-II schools with Phoenix College and Pima JC. The division didn't matter, both programs were simply trying to win to stay atop the conference standings.
Cochise Junior College head coach Jerry Carrillo has been among the best junior college head coaches in America for many years, a long time. Carrillo won his 500th career game last week - an amazing honor for the legendary Arizona coach. Carrillo is known for his amazing energy and intensity level as a coach. His teams are always prepared defensively and play an intense brand of basketball that catches the attention of anyone in the gymnasium, zip code or area code. His team's mirror him and it is always a joy to see his team's perform.
The first half was a joy to watch for Cochise fans, as the Cochise team would come out on fire and with excellent energy in the contest, as Cochise teams always do. Cochise would turn on their fullcourt press, and would get into the lane often and finish strong around the rim, en route to a big first half performance. After consecutive baskets inside the paint from 6-foot-6 sophomore do-it-all forward Chaz Mack, Cochise would jump out to a 52-27 lead with 3:39 left to play in the first half.
After a timeout by South Mountain head coach Dan Nichols, 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Jacob Inclan would get a steal and convert a layup on the other end at the halftime buzzer to pull his team to within 17 points - 60-43.
South Mountain head coach Dan Nichols at halftime had this to say about the onslaught by Cochise, "We couldn't deal with their fullcourt press."
In the game's second half, 6-foot-5 freshman Coleson Struhs would catch fire. The sharp-shooting, bigger guard prospect would knock down (3) consecutive three-pointers to pull South to within 15 points, 86-71 - providing serious hope for the Jaguar team and fans in the crowd.
Cochise JC's Chaz Mack has been a consistent top performer for numerous years now, and he always seems to get a lot done, while having to prove himself to college coaches, scouts and media. For that group, there always seems to be a "wait and see" attitude towards mack, but for opposing teams, Mack is an animal and a savage that kills his opponents with sheer effort, hard work, and activity on the floor - inside and out. While he may not look like a serious division-I talent, his performance, stats and overall production is high major. Each time South would get it close, Mack would fire back with an offensive rebound and putback, or simply a strong post move finish.
With 4:30 left to play in the game, 6-foot-4 freshman guard Darion Spottsville would convert a nice move to the basket to pull South Mountain to within 10 points, 86-96. Then with 3:53 left to play in the contest, 5-foot-7 freshman guard Mikey Silva would knock down a crucial three-pointer in the secondary break to make the score 96-89. Then an offensive rebound and put-back by 6-foot-6 sophomore guard/forward Bryan Battle would pull South to within 5 points, 100-95.
With :30 seconds left to play in the contest, and with South holding firmly on to the momentum, Mikey Silva would knock down another three-pointer to pull South to within 3 points, 102-99, but after coming back from so far behind in the game, South would come up short late. With an opportunity to get a rebound on a missed free-throw attempt late with just seconds on the clock, Cochise would collect the offensive rebound and make free-throws from there to pull away, 106-99.
Chaz Mack would finish with a career high and game-high 43 big points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Cochise now takes over first place in the conference among division-I schools.