A night after falling at Sahuaro, the Ironwood Ridge boys basketball team rebounded behind the inside presence of center Mitch Lightfoot and a balanced mix of veteran scoring to beat Sierra Buena Vista 61-53 on Tuesday.
It handed the Colts their first loss of the season and, for senior guard Addison Adelberg, put the Nighthawks on the map.
“We have a lot of confidence going forward (now),” he said.
Ironwood Ridge coach Mark Felix said the Nighthawks beat a really talented Buena squad that could be one of the top teams statewide in Division II, much less Southern Arizona.
The victory also comes after playing three terrible quarters in a loss against Sahuaro on Monday night, despite a close 59-53 scoreline.
“Our guys just wanted to play better today, so I think the came out with a lot more focus and a lot more intensity,” Felix said. “We, of course, knew Buena is really good, so we had to pick it up or the game was going to be over before it even started.”
Tuesday night’s final score also was misleading as both teams remained within four points of each other the first 29 minutes.
With less than 6:00 to play, Buena guard Roderick Springer (10 points) drilled a pull-up jumper to give the Colts (6-1) their first lead, 45-44, since the end of the first quarter.
I-Ridge (6-3) quickly answered, though, with a 9-1 run that included a three-pointer by senior Trevor Cotton, who finished with a team-high 12 points.
A three-pointer by junior Riley Adams gave Buena some hope, cutting the lead to 54-50 with just over a minute to play, but the Nighthawks hit 9 of 11 free throws to ice the game.
“Ironwood Ridge played a better, smarter game and deserved to win,” Colts coach Dave Glasgow said.
With Buena returning all but one impact player (leading scorer Rashawn Avery) from a team that made the second round of the Division I playoffs, the Colts have a chance to do some damage in the lower division this season.
However, Buena didn’t play intelligently Tuesday night, Glasgow said.
Add that to the strong inside presence of 6-foot-8-inch Lightfoot — who finished the game with 11 points and had seven blocks in the first half alone — and the Nighthawks came up with an impressive win.
“Just having him (Lightfoot) in there is so big for our defense, because it just allows guards to make mistakes and maybe gamble a little extra because we know he’s back there to block shots,” said Adelberg, who had 10 points for the Nighthawks.
I-Ridge hit seven three pointers, yet every time the Nighthawks tried to break the game open, Buena answered. Colts junior Mojave Nick scored a game-high 13 points — including an emphatic two on a put-back dunk seconds before halftime to tie the game at 24.