COOLIDGE — In the two regular season meetings, Cochise was able to hang with Central Arizona most of the way before falling late.
“We thought we had a good plan defensively to slow them down,” Cochise head coach Jerry Carrillo said. “But we couldn’t do anything offensively… We did a better job getting back defensively, but we couldn’t score, and that got to us.”
Demeco Blue was the only Cochise scorer in double figures with 16 points.
Cochise trailed 33-23 at the half. Central upped its lead to as many as 18 points in the second-half, and Cochise was only able to whittle it back down to 13.
Central Arizona moves on to Saturday’s region championship, where for the second straight year the Vaqueros will meet Arizona Western, which defeated Mesa on Thursday.
Four sophomores, starters Jerry Duckworth, Joe Bell Austin, Ajak Magot and Tevin Caldwell played their final games for Cochise on Thursday. Carrillo said the aim as he heads into the off-season is building a team to topple the new power, Central.
“We’ve got to find a way to beat Central; they’re kind of a thorn in our side,” Carrillo said. “They have a good, young coaching staff and they’ve done a really good job recruiting.”
The Apaches closed the season with a 25-6 record and Carrillo finished his 18th season one win shy of 400 for his tenure.
“Obviously we want to get back to the championship — the bar’s high for us,” Carrillo said. “A lot of teams would be happy with a 25-6 season, but we’re disappointed.”