For the second straight year, the top seeded Cochise College Apaches, winners of the ACCAC regular season championship, had their season come to an end in front of the hometown fans by a fourth seeded team in the Region 1 semifinals.
Last year fourth seed Eastern Arizona College came into Cochise Stronghold and upset the No.1 seeded Apaches.
On Saturday night it was Arizona Western who came into Cochise Stronghold and battled back from a first half deficit to defeat Cochise 72-59. The two teams split with each other during the regular season with each team winning on its home court.
Cochise had a three-point lead midway through the first half Saturday.
Damon Wall’s three-pointer gave the Apaches a 35-26 lead, their largest lead of the night, with just over three-minutes remaining in the first half.
Western cut the lead to six, trailing 39-33, at the half.
In the second half, the Matadors continued to battle eventually tying the game at 43.
Back to back three-pointers by the Matadors gave them a 49-43 cushion which they eventually expanded to 71-55 at one point with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
Cochise would be outscored 39-20 the second half as the Matadors advance while the Apaches end their season 17-6.
Arizona Western will now go on and face Eastern Arizona College Monday night in Thatcher for the Region 1 championship.
Cochise College sophomore Naje Smith was named the ACCAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year this past week.
He was also the Apaches lone representative on the Region 1, Division 1 All Region First Team.
Fellow Apaches Milan Szabo and Arion Lewis were awarded Region 1, Division 1 All Region Second Team honors. Szabo also was selected to the Honorable Mention All-ACCAC squad.