Perry’s boys basketball team hoists the Open Division state championship trophy after knocking off Sunnyslope on Saturday, March 4 at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. (Dave Minton/Staff Photographer)

Perry head boys basketball coach Sam Duane said his players have handled the expectations set on them this season well.

They’ve stayed grounded. They haven’t let national rankings or other outside forces get in the way of their ultimate goal: Winning the first-ever Open Division state championship.

That goal was accomplished earlier this month at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in dominating fashion.

Sophomore forward Koa Peat led the way for the Pumas, finishing with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks as No. 1 Perry beat No. 10 Sunnyslope 74-58 to win the Open Division state title.

“This one feels really good because of the expectations and the challenges our guys had to go through,” Duane said. “I’m really proud of our guys.”

Perry knew in order to slow down Sunnyslope, it had to limit guard John Mattingley. But perhaps his biggest challenge was ahead of him going toe-to-toe with Perry senior and five-star Colorado signee Cody Williams.

Duane challenged Williams to guard Mattingley on the defensive end of the floor and he rose to the occasion, as he has all season.

Mattingly was held scoreless in the first half. It allowed Perry to jump out to an initial 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Then, a surge in the second quarter from Perry quickly put the game out of reach as the Pumas outscored the Vikings 20-8.

“Cody did a great job on him in the first half, he had zero points,” Peat said. “I gotta give big credit to Cody, man. We all played really good defense, but Cody played really good defense. He’s the player of the year, come on.”

When given a chance to take over, Peat took it.

He powered his way into the lane, drawing contact on nearly every trip for and one opportunities. When Sunnyslope blocked off the lane, he pulled up for a midrange jumper. Shot after shot fell for the 6-foot-8 sophomore.

“Koa Peat is hard to stop,” Duane said. “He makes guys good coaches.”

Even as Sunnyslope gained some momentum in the second half behind Portela and Mattingly finding space to score, the Vikings couldn’t stop the onslaught from Perry’s offense.

Williams finished his final high school game with 15 points. Sophomore Nono Brown had 9, senior Ben Egbo had 7 and sophomore D’Andre Harrison corralled 10 rebounds.

Peat exited the floor in the fourth quarter to “MVP” chants from the Perry student section. Williams and Egbo, the only two senior starters, received standing ovations.

“It’s even better when the whole season people were saying we weren’t going to win the Open Division, we’re not as tough, we can’t go back-to-back,” Williams said. “It’s nice to see all of those brackets they drew up of us losing pulled up and see we beat everybody.

“It’s nice to be the best in the state.”

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