How fast the tide can turn.
Just last week, the North Mustangs (21-10) were riding a major high after winning the Division-I, Section I tournament championship. North was one of the state's hottest teams and looking to make a big run in the state playoffs.
Thursday evening, North would host #23 seed Perry HS (20-8) in the first round of this year's Division-I state playoffs. While Perry was the second to last seeded team in this year's Division-I playoffs, they would look to upset the scorching Mustangs.
North would look very much like the team that ran through their sectional competition last week in the early going. North would jump out to a big 10-0 lead in the game's opening minutes.
Perry would not get their first points of the game until 4:45 remainning in the first period, when 6-foot-10 senior post Lucas O'Brien (University of Texas-San Antonio signee) would score inside.
Perry would then climb back in the game behind three consecutive baskets from 6-foot-1 senior guard Matt Bracamonte.
North's 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard Elijah Williams would score on a nice drive to the basket over two Perry defenders just before the end of the period to give North a 16-11 advantage.
Perry would close the gap in the second period after 4 consecutive points from O'Brien and then a steal and a layup from 5-foot-10 junior guard Nathan Henderson.
Then with :12 seconds left to play in the first half, Perry would take their first lead of the game, 24-23, after a nice assist from 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Jordan Howard to 6-foot-3 sophomore guard/forward Ryan Richardson for a three-point basket.
North's Elijah Williams would turn in another buzzer beater in the first half though, as he would connect on a three-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 26-24 halftime lead.
In the third period, both teams would fight hard to gain momentum, until 2:11 left to play in the quarter when poised and talented Jordan Howard would hit a three-pointer to tie the game, and then steal the basketball on the next play and travel the length of the floor and score the basketball after being fouled. Howard's three-point play would give Perry a 42-39 lead, the game's momentum and the confidence they needed as a team to make a move.
After taking a 44-41 lead into the fourth period, Perry would get it going. A mid-range jumper from Ryan Richardson, a three-point play from 5-foot-10 senior point guard Desmond Howard, a dunk and another basket inside by Lucas O'Brien and Perry would take a 54-47 lead with less than 3 minutes left to play in the game.
North's 6-foot-3 junior guard Jonah Legg would steal the basketball and score in transition to make the game close, 54-49, but then Perry would make their free throws down the stretch and cruise to a big 63-53 road victory - advancing to the second round of the this year's Division-I state playoffs.
Perry will now move on to face #7 seed Basha HS on Saturday evening.
Notes: North's talented 6-foot-3 junior guard Jonah Legg was suffering from the flu Thursday, which resulted in his lackluster performance on the night ...
Perry HS 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard Jordan Howard is among the best talents in Arizona's 2014 class. This poised and gifted young guard has the skillsets and confidence to become a nice talent in the future. Howard took over the game at one point Thursday evening, and was a big inspiration to his team's big upset playoff victory.