Losing the arms race: Ironwood Ridge's Kristen Dohm finds the lane clogged with Pusch Ridge defenders on a drive to the basket in the third-place game of the Northwest Desert Classic.


Ironwood Ridge knocked off Pusch Ridge Christian 40-31 in the third-place game of the Northwest Desert Classic on Saturday.

First-year coach Nikki Simpson is hoping her squad can carry that momentum into the coming weeks.

The Nighthawks (9-7) don't play again until Jan. 8, at Flowing Wells, to open a tough four-day stretch.

"Our first week back is Flowing Wells, Tucson High and Mountain View," Simpson said. "We have a lot of tough games coming up, and this series of five games in four days really gets us ready for that.

"We played great teams the whole tournament. That will get you ready for the second half of the season," Simpson added.

Saturday at Pusch Ridge was the second time this season the Nighthawks beat the Lions. The two will play again on Jan. 25 at Pusch Ridge.

After scoring only four points in the second quarter and going in at the half with a slim 14-11 lead, I-Ridge opened up the third quarter with a 12-2 run.

Less than 30 seconds into the period, Meaghan Coffield hit a put-back to make it 16-11. Pusch Ridge senior Gabrielle Courtney, who finished with a game-high 20 points, responded with a long jumper, but the Nighthawks scored 10 straight from there and took a 26-13 lead when senior Paige Moffett sank a three-pointer from the left side.

"We realized we had to jump on them before they got the momentum," said Moffett, who led the Nighthawks with 18 points.

Pusch Ridge (10-7) scored 10 straight to pull within three points to start the fourth quarter, but the Nighthawks quickly extended their lead. Moffett hit back-to-back baskets with four minutes remaining to go up 37-25.

Pusch Ridge coach Lonnie Tvrdy said that put the game out of reach.

After scoring only 14 points in the first half, I-Ridge put up 26 in the second half. Simpson said that was what made the difference.

"Something that we're working on is everyone just does their job," Simpson said. "Just do your job, just do what you're good at, and we play team basketball, and when we play team basketball we're really successful."

Tvrdy was disappointed in the loss, the team's third straight since winning five in a row, but said he was missing some key players including starting center Noelle Soltero.

He also said he'd like to see more disciplined play on both sides of the ball for all four quarters in the second half of the season.

Phoenix Desert Vista beat Chandler Seton Catholic 50-42 to win the four-day, eight-team tournament.