Pima avenges regular-season loss by upending Trivium Prep in the quarterfinals

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Grant Ashby mans up Trivium’s Aj Williams. Pima defeated Trivium Prep 55-41 to move onto the semifinals against No. 2 Scottsdale Christian.

Roughriders to face No. 2 Scottsdale Christian in semis

By Jon Johnson


PRESCOTT VALLEY – The No. 3 Pima Roughriders boys basketball team punched their ticket to the state semifinals on Saturday with a 55-41 victory over the No. 6 Trivium Prep Crimson Knights.

The Roughriders (10-0 region, 13-1 conference, 23-4 overall) will face No. 2 Scottsdale Christian on Friday, Feb. 25, at Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Seth Russell (32) goes to the rack for an and-one play. Russell led the Roughriders with 18 points.

Missing starting point guard Coy Miller who broke his arm in Friday’s 63-51 win over No. 14 Miami, Leland Thompson, and Wyatt Wiltbank were tapped to step up and pick up the slack. And that they did.

Thompson played stringent defense all game long and Wiltbank scored in double-digits and went 3-4 from the free-throw line late in the game to seal the victory. He finished with 10 points and hit 8-12 from the free-throw line.

Seth Russell led the scoring for Pima with 18 points while nearly shooting 80% from the field. Russell also snagged 13 rebounds (5 offensive) for the double-double. Russell’s main critique on the night (and it wasn’t only him) was a poor shooting night at the free-throw line, where he missed six and shot 40% on 4-10.

That was really the only slight in a top all-around game played by Russell and Pima as a whole. Grant Ashby was saddled with defending Trivium’s all-star Aj Williams, who managed to put down 16 but they weren’t easy and they came with a lot of missed shots as well.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Wyatt Wiltbank stepped up for the injured Coy Miller and put in 10 points while going 8-12 from the free-throw line.

Offensively, Garrett Curtis went for 9 points, while Grant Ashby had 7, and his brother, Peirce, had 6; Leland Thompson had 3 points, and Dallin Kartchner had 2 points.

Aj Williams led Trivium Prep with 16 hard-fought points. He was followed by Kaden Bruggeman and Jasper Zamora with 8 points each; Hee-sung An had 5, and Dominic Simmons and Sam Roberts had 2 points each.

Pima avenged its earlier regular-season loss to Trivium Prep by clamping down on defense in the third quarter. For the game, Pima shot about 55% from the field and held Trivium to about 33%.

The Roughriders opened the game well and jumped out to a 7-2 early lead with 3:57 left in the first quarter. But Trivium Prep played well – especially early on – and came back to tie the game at 10-10 with 6:21 to go in the second quarter. The teams then went back-and-forth for the rest of the half, with Pima taking a 20-19 edge with 1:15 to play in the second quarter and a 22-20 lead at the half.

Then the third quarter happened. Pima jumped out and scored twice quickly to go up by 6 and Trivium quickly called a timeout to regroup. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t help.

Pima continued to press forward and pushed the lead to 10 points, 30-20, with 5:40 left in the third. The Roughriders then held that through the rest of the quarter to enter the fourth with a 41-30 lead.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Trivium Prep’s Aj Williams shoots over the defense of Grant Ashby. Williams led Trivium with 16 points.

Trivium continued to battle and cut Pima’s lead to just 6 points with 2:35 left to play. However, Garrett Curtis stepped up and nailed a 3-pointer and the Knights were denied the basket the rest of the way as Pima finished them, 55-41.

The Roughriders will now face No. 2 Scottsdale Christian, which beat San Tan Charter 53-25. Pima defeated Scottsdale Christian in their only regular-season meeting this year, 53-42 in Pima.

Click here to view the Gila Herald’s Photo Album of the game.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima’s Leland Thompson (10) defends the perimeter.

In other boys playoff news:

In 3A, the No. 9 Thatcher Eagles defeated No. 8 Gilbert Christian 66-58 to move into the quarterfinals against No. 1 Valley Christian. The game will be played at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 22, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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