Let’s make it two: Pima boys join girls in the state championship

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Garrett Curtis drives to the hoop in Pima’s 53-41 semifinal win over Arizona Lutheran on Friday. Pima will play No. 8 Highland Prep for the 2A State Boys Basketball Championship on Saturday.

Roughriders handle Coyotes to reach the championship

By Jon Johnson


PHOENIX – The Pima Roughriders boys basketball team will play for the 2A State Boys Basketball Championship on Saturday, after defeating the Arizona Lutheran Coyotes 53-41 at Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Seth Russell posts and asks for the ball. Russell was big down low and finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

“I feel like we played hard and we played really good defense,” said Pima head coach Cliff Thompson. “And that’s really what we gotta do if we’re going to win tomorrow too. We’re going to have to grind it out. That’s kind of our style. It’s not real pretty most of the time. I feel like if we play really hard and play for 32 minutes we got a good shot tomorrow.”

Pima will now play No. 8 Highland Prep for the 2A State Boys Basketball Championship on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m. at Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. Get tickets through GoFan here.

Highland Prep is peaking at the right time and defeated No. 1 San Tan Charter in the quarterfinals 65-58 and No. 4 Phoenix Christian in the semifinals, 60-45.

Pima 53 – Arizona Lutheran 41

The size of Pima’s frontcourt was too much for Arizona Lutheran to overcome, as the Roughriders choked the Coyotes on defense, with Pima center Pierce Ashby leading the way with five blocks.

Steve Carter Photo/Special to the Gila Herald: Seth Russell lays in 2 of his 14 points on 6-7 shooting.

Pima outrebounded Arizona Lutheran 24 to 15, unofficially, and had 8 total blocks.

Arizona Lutheran head coach Doug Meyer said Pima’s length and experience gave them the edge needed for the victory.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pierce Ashby gathers one of his five blocks on the night.

“Their experience, I think, was a big part of it tonight,” said Arizona Lutheran head coach Doug Meyer. “They’re just an odd 2A team because you never play anyone with that kind of length. (And) they won’t have it again next year.”

Senior Grant Ashby led Pima with 18 points on 6-9 shooting and 4-5 from the free-throw line. Whenever Pima needed a big bucket, Grant was there for the score.

Seth Russell was big down low and finished with 14 points while shooting 85.7% from the field (6-7) and 2-4 from the line. Russell just missed a workingman’s double-double and finished with 9 rebounds. Jump-shot shooting Garrett Curtis poured in 13 as well on 6-12 shooting to spread out the scoring.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Leland Thompson attacks the hoop.

Things started out well for the Coyotes, they opened up the scoring and ended up 12-11 after one period. However, that would be their last lead.

Pima immediately fed Russell down low to open the second and his score put them up 13-12 and they never looked back. Grant broke free from his shell in the second, hitting shots inside and outside and playing good defense. By the time halftime came around, Pima was up 35-22.

Pima pounded the ball inside to Russell in the third, and when Russell hit at the start of the fourth Pima was up 37-22.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Coy Miller sunk his free throws, which sunk the Coyotes late in the fourth period after an intentional foul.

The Coyotes refused to yield and fought back to within 7, at 46-39, but then an intentional foul sent Coy Miller to the free throw line for two and the ball. Russell was fouled on the ensuing possession and made one of two free throws and the threat was gone.

Noah Draper led the way for Arizona Lutheran with 11 points, followed by Stephan Iron Shell with 10, Rylan Bass with 9, Reed Bode with 6, and Ethan Kayenda with 5.

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Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima head coach Cliff Thompson requests an explanation from an official.