Ironwood Ridge’s boys basketball team had to travel farther than any other Southern Arizona squad playing in the first round of the Division II state tournament on Thursday night.
The trip to Sierra Vista Buena was worth it as the No. 19 Nighthawks outlasted the 14th-seed 61-52 for their second win against the Colts this season. They will play at No. 3 Flagstaff on Saturday night.
Ironwood Ridge sophomore Mitch Lightfoot, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, got things going early along with senior guard Trevor Cotton who finished tied for a game-high 17 points. But it was senior forward Jake Jensen who came through down the stretch, connecting on all six of his free throw attempts to put the game out of reach.
“The guys really stepped it up and did a good job taking over,” said Mark Felix, Ironwood Ridge’s first-year coach. “Jensen did a fantastic job for us.”
Buena junior guard Rod Springer led the Colts with 17 and senior forward Gilbert Pinckney, who spent most of the night on the bench in foul trouble, finished with 12 after scoring eight in the first quarter.
No. 9 Catalina Foothills 56, No. 24 Phoenix Greenway 49: At Foothills, the Falcons held off the Demons behind 17 points from senior Austin Nehls and got their first win in the state tournament since the 2009-10 season. The momentum shifted late in the third quarter as Keion Riley completed a three-point play with 3.4 seconds remaining to push Foothills’ lead to 42-34 heading into the fourth. Greenway cut the deficit to 52-49 with 33 seconds to go, but four free throws from Dalton Groenewold down the stretch were enough as the Falcons held on to win by seven. Next up for Foothills is a tilt at No. 8 Phoenix Shadow Mountain on Saturday night.
No. 11 Sahuaro 63, No. 22 Phoenix Sierra Linda 35: At Sahuaro, senior point guard Andre Bearden led the way for the Cougars with a team-high 18 points while juniors Nate Renfro and Jordan Lane each scored 13. Sahuaro started out with a big first quarter, outscoring Sierra Linda by 10. The visiting Bulldogs battled back and only trailed by six at the half. The Cougars then came out dominating with a 19-point third quarter and held Sierra Linda to only five points in the fourth quarter. Sahuaro will play at No. 5 Surprise Shadow Ridge in the second round on Saturday night.
No. 15 Sabino 55, No. 18 Peoria Sunrise Mountain 49: At Sabino, the Sabercats led 25-17 at halftime and once held a 15-point advantage before giving it up with 1:52 left to play. But a late comeback ensured Sabino a matchup with second-seeded Tempe on Saturday. Junior guard Matt Zaleski hit a three-pointer with 1:25 left to retake the lead for Sabino and the Sabercats held the Mustangs scoreless for the remainder of the game. Zaleski finished with 16 points and four three-pointers and senior guard Darion Martin scored 18 points. The Sabercats hit 10 threes. Senior Matt Bushman swatted two shots in the paint down the stretch to secure the win.
No. 16 Sunnyside 59, No. 17 Queen Creek 58: At Sunnyside, the Blue Devils caused coach Rob Harrison to say a prayer as Queen Creek had two looks from deep in the waning seconds to send the game to overtime. Both Bulldog shots missed, though, and a follow-up layup was too little, too late as Sunnyside escaped. The Blue Devils, who face No. 1 Salpointe Catholic in the next round, led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Queen Creek regained the lead with a 19-3 run in the third. Sunnyside freshman Santino Duarte scored eight fourth-quarter points and sophomore Jacob Inclan had a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds.