Pusch Ridge's Moriah Roters protects the ball from CDO's Alicia Vallejos in the third quarter of the Lions' victory.


For the third time this season, Pusch Ridge Christian and Canyon del Oro, two schools separated only by Oracle Road, faced off on the court.

Thursday's outcome was the same as the previous two meetings, but this time it took an overtime period for the Lions to defeat CDO 40-35 at the Northwest Desert Classic at Pusch Ridge.

"These three games could have gone the other way," said Lions head coach Lonnie Tvrdy. "It has turned into a great rivalry because you could flip a coin on who is going to win it."

All three meetings have been decided by six points or less. The Lions won the first matchup at the Boyd Baker Tournament at Sahuaro High School in November. CDO fell for a second time at Pusch Ridge on Dec. 7.

Thursday, Pusch Ridge held a 27-24 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but the Dorados battled back to tie the game at 31 and send it into overtime.

The Lions, who controlled the boards early in the game, had trouble securing rebounds and limiting second-chance opportunities in the second half, helping CDO's resurgence.

"We really struggled with boxing out," Tvrdy said. "We were like a bunch of birds going for a worm from mom out of the nest. Twice on free throws a kid runs around our kid going for the ball."

The Dorados' late rally also came without their leading scorer, Brittany West, who suffered an ankle injury with 4:51 remaining and would not return. West had 11 points before being carried off the court.

In overtime both teams were busy from the free-throw line, combining for 11 attempts.

With the score tied at 35, the Dorados lost another key player, point guard Hailey Jones, who fouled out with 1:45 left in overtime.

Jones' foul sent the Lions' Haley Smith to the line. Smith converted on the first free throw and gave Pusch Ridge a lead it would not relinquish.

CDO's Jessica Nofs had an opportunity to tie the score with eight seconds left, but her three-point attempt fell short to seal the victory for the Lions.

The two schools could meet again in the tournament today when bracket play begins. If not, the fourth meeting would come on Jan. 8 when the Lions travel across the street to play at CDO.

"I'm definitely looking forward to playing them again, because they are a challenge, and they make us push ourselves harder," said Pusch Ridge guard Olivia Christian, who scored 11 points.

"Its hard to beat a team three times."