Originally published Friday, February 8, 2019 at 04:20a.m.

KINGMAN – A short two and a half miles is all that separates the two schools.

So it wasn’t too surprising that the athletes took extra time Thursday night to high five and congratulate each other following the Kingman Academy High School boys basketball team’s 70-49 victory over Kingman High.

“All these guys are best friends,” said Tigers head coach William McDavid. “They play a few miles from each other, but they love each other. The energy that they brought, we really enjoy competing against that.”

The atmosphere was electric on a night where the Bulldogs honored their seniors one last time. Unfortunately Kingman couldn’t send them off with a victory, but head coach Nick Juby was still grateful for all the hard work and dedication.

“I was pleased with all eight seniors tonight,” Juby said. “They gave me everything they had this last time on the home court. It’s hard – every year with seniors is hard.”

Those emotions didn’t stop Academy though as it overcame a slow start to take a 33-17 lead into halftime. That advantage increased to 52-29 entering the final quarter and that allowed a number of substitutes to enter the game.

“A lot of guys got to play tonight that maybe don’t see the floor as much,” McDavid said. “Our seniors have done a wonderful job all year of holding onto that baton. They let it go to the other players and it was a really good opportunity for them to learn a little bit.”

The learning experience was due in large part to Tyler Chinyere and Nate Perea. The seniors combined for 29 points, with Chinyere leading all scorers with 19 points.

“Nate was bound to go off – he had a rough shooting night for us the other night, but we know he can shoot the ball well,” McDavid said of Perea. “We trust in him, we believe in him and we know he can do it. And Tyler (Chinyere) did a wonderful job of taking up space. We recognize everyone game plans for him, so why not get everyone else involved. He does a wonderful job of getting his, while also making sure everyone else gets theirs.”

Meanwhile, senior Cody Powskey came off the bench in the second half and led the Bulldogs with 12 points. Matt Ruggles was also in double figures with 10 points, followed by David Hemenway with nine points.

“Cody (Powskey) plays hard and he’s another one of those seniors,” Juby said. “This was his first year with us. He joined on and I told him, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ It’s been a thrill to have him. I love every single one of these seniors – they’re awesome. They gave me everything they had tonight.”

And as Kingman’s seniors close this chapter of their high school basketball career, the seven Tiger seniors look to keep their story alive.

No. 15 ranked Academy (11-5, 7-3 3A West Region) now waits to find out its seed in the 3A State Championship, scheduled to start Wednesday night.

The AIA bracket release show starts at 5 p.m. Saturday and can be watched live online at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/azpreps365/evtac230e94e4.

“It’s all out of our hands right now,” McDavid said. “There's a game going on (Friday) that we’re going to keep an eye on for the No. 14 seed. We’ll most likely get the No. 15 seed and we’ll live with that and get into the tournament.”