THATCHER, Ariz. ---While hanging around in the first half despite foul trouble, the fourth seeded Arizona Western Matadors (18-14 overall, 11-11 ACCAC) saw their run come to an end at the hands of the lethal second seeded Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters (26-6 overall, 16-6 ACCAC) 93-73 Monday night in the Region I Final at the Gitteau Gymnasium.
In a rematch of last year’s Final which took place in Yuma, the Gila Monsters energized their home crowd with a strong start that included a three-point barrage from Jalen Brown.
Arizona Western countered with a balanced attack led by Pharoh Allah’s seven points, but foul trouble forced a trio of Matador starters to the bench early.
With Brown cooking and Collin Kelley feasting inside with 13 first-half points, Eastern Arizona shot 50% from the field first half and held a 44-36 lead over Arizona Western at the half.
While the Matadors quickly shaved some of the deficit off, Eastern had answers for big shots as Anthony Anderson countered immediately with one of his trio of second half three’s.
While Brown would chip in another 13 in the second half, finishing with a game-high 27, Anderson added 16 and Rayshawn Howard gave his season-best 14.
Other big guys for Eastern, ACCAC 1st Teamer Nathaniel Pollard finished with 10 points and 12 boards while limited to just 13 minutes due to fouls.
The Matadors had significant send-off performances from Sophomores Allah and Jordan Green.
Green led the way with 19 points including 3 of 4 from the arc while Allah finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Sophomore Daniel Kiely finished with 12 points.
Arizona Western concludes the season with a fourth consecutive Region I Final appearance and extending a stretch of 22 consecutive post-season trips. It’s the seventh time in nine years under Head Coach Charles Harral that AWC has reached the Region Final.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.