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ASU 2014 commit Kodi Justice helps team in opening round victory

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The Dobson high school basketball program is loaded with talent. They were the preseason number one ranked team in Division I. They have three players that will play at the next level. Yet, a slow start in their first round playoff game against Highland almost proved to be too much to overcome

The Dobson Mustangs came back from a six-point deficit at the half to defeat the Highland Hawks 63-54 in the first round of the Division 1 State Playoffs. Senior guard Jaron Hopkins, who is committed to play for Colorado, led the Mustangs in scoring with 19 points. Arizona State commit Kodi Justice had 11 points.

“We played good and got around to scoring baskets,” Justice said on the victory.

Justice, who committed to the Sun Devils prior to his sophomore season in 2011, played a very sound game. He scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists. Defensively, Justice forced two steals and had four blocked shots, with many of those blocks coming in crucial moments that swung momentum in Dobson’s favor.

Unfortunately, Justice did have six turnovers and he committed a terrible foul to close out the first half when he fouled Jake Toolson, who was shooting a desperation three as time was running out. Toolson hit all three free throws to give Highland a four-point lead after the first quarter.

“We struggled in the beginning,” Justice said. “I guess we had playoff nerves, but we got it going.”

Dobson trailed into the fourth quarter, but stayed close enough for Ryan Richardson to hit three consecutive threes to break a 42-42 tie and for Dobson to essentially seal the victory. Great defense by Justice also contributed to Dobson’s comeback.

“We protected the basket well and got the ball to our shooters who hit their shots,” Justice said on the fourth quarter comeback.

Next up for Dobson is Jahii Carson’s alma mater, the Mesa Jackrabbits on Saturday night.

Justice had a focused look in his eye when asked about his second round opponent.

“We will be ready to play and get our revenge from earlier this season,” he said referring to Mesa’s 57-40 victory back in December. “Now we are ready, it’s the playoffs.”

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