Zeke Thompkins

Apollo senior Zeke Thompkins looks to pass in the Hawks victory over Centennial on Thursday night.

Apollo’s defensive effort led the Hawks to a 63-49 road victory over Centennial Thursday night in 5A boys’ basketball.

The game started out as a defensive slugfest for both sides, as both teams came out with their own forms of the full-court press and created havoc for the other. The score was just 16-12 in the Hawks’ favor after a quarter.

Eventually the Hawks settled into their offensive system a little more, hitting three-pointers and layups in transition off their defense. Meanwhile, the Coyotes – normally a sharpshooting team from outside – were limited in their ability to take and make open jumpers.

“Our idea was to not let them shoot threes, and try to make them take it to the basket so we could get a charge or block their shot. We watched a lot of film of them, and so it was good for us to be able to stop them when we could,” said senior Zeke Thompkins.

The Hawks never got rolling 100 percent to their potential on offense in the game, to the chagrin of coach Jacob Marin. But, their defensive effort and clutch free throws at the end helped the team hold on for the victory.

Mostly, Marin was happy to get the victory, regardless of the way the game played out.

“We’ll take any win we can get in this region, especially on the road. I think this is by far the toughest region in 5A and when you can get a quality win it’s good no matter how it happens,” he said.

The win gives the Hawks three victories in their last four region games, and Marin said he feels the Hawks are playing some of their best basketball of the season at this point.

Next up is a home game against Sunnyslope on Jan. 28. Apollo fell 65-31 in the teams’ last meeting in early January. Marin said the recent high quality of play needs to continue to reverse Apollo’s fortunes.

“Your margin of error is so thin against them, so we need to limit the turnovers and shore up some of the fouls that we had last game,” he said. “We played well defensively for three quarters and eventually it just got away from us, so we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Right now I think we’re a dangerous team,”