Pima knocks off No. 1 Scottsdale Christian

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Grant Ashby and the Pima Roughriders ran past the No. 1 Scottsdale Christian Eagles on Saturday night, 53-42.

By Jon Johnson


PIMA – On Saturday night, the No. 6 Pima Roughriders boys basketball team announced to the rest of the state that they are ready for the playoffs with a big 53-42 victory over No. 1 Scottsdale Christian. 

The win also capped a historic sweep as every Pima JV team (two boys and one girls) and both varsity teams defeated Scottsdale Christian on Saturday.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Seth Russell (32) looks for an opening to take a shot.

“That’s an excellent team, Scottsdale Christian,” said Pima head coach Cliff Thompson. “We played great, but we won it on the defensive side.”

“They’re good and they’re one of the favorites to win state. Hopefully, the way we played tonight makes us one as well.” 

Pima (8-0 region, 11-1 conference, 19-5 overall) outscored Scottsdale in every quarter in what began as a very physical, defensive game. After a couple of minutes of play, the only score was a lone free throw by Pima. 

The Roughriders started to get some distance from the Eagles (3-0 region, 10-1 conference, 19-3 overall) and they did it by shooting from long range. Perennial long-range deadeye Coy Miller was a given, but big men Seth Russell and Pierce Ashby also knocking them down from deep in the first gave the Eagle pause as the Roughriders opened a 16-10 lead after one-quarter of play. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pierce Ashby went 4-5 from deep and led the Roughriders with 16 points.

While Pima hit 8-12 from deep for a staggering 66.7%, Scottsdale Christian was just 5-20 for 25%. Pima also shot better from the field at 18-36 for 50% for the game compared to 14-41 for 34.1% from the field as a team.

“We hit some really big shots,” coach Thompson said. “We shot really well from three. I think we were 8-12 from three, which is crazy good.”   

Pierce Ashby was on fire from deep as he nailed a 3-pointer in every quarter while going 4-5 (80%) from deep on his way to a team-high 16 points on the night. 

Every time it appeared Scottsdale was getting closer, Pierce nailed a 3-pointer to push back the lead or got a big bucket in the fourth quarter. And Pierce did it with confidence and authority. Standing five feet away, I was in awe watching him catch the ball in stride and immediately go up and nail the long ball time after time.

Pierce was joined by his brother, Grant Ashby, and Wyatt Wiltbank with nailing 3’s in the second quarter. Those three 3’s were the only points for Pima in the quarter except for a bucket and two free throws by Grant, yet they still outscored Scottsdale 13-10 to go up 29-20 at the half. 

Seeing Pierce in the starting lineup, I immediately thought it was due to Scottsdale’s own lineup of two 6’6” guys and one 6’8” center. Indeed, it was a defensive battle down low all night, with Pierce and Seth Russell and Garrett Curtis doing most of the heavy lifting. Russell finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds, while Curtis had 5 points and 4 rebounds. 

With Coy Miller in foul trouble (he eventually fouled out with 4:24 left in the game) Grant Ashby was pressed into ball-handling service more as Scottsdale began pressing in an attempt to create turnovers. Grant handled the assignment well and had zero turnovers compared to 4 assists. Grant also shot 66.7% from the field and was a perfect 2-2 from the free-throw line for 11 points on the night.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Coy Miller cheers on his teammates from the bench after fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Other scorers for Pima included Wyatt Wiltbank and Coy Miller who both hit 3-pointers for 3 points each, and Leland Thompson with 2 points.

Points were far and few to come in the third quarter for both teams. Pima mustered up 10 points behind a couple of big buckets by Curtis, Pierce, and Leland Thompson, while Scottsdale Christian amassed 9 points after a steal and dunk by Garrison Sherman just before the end of the quarter.   

Sherman led the way for Scottsdale Christian with 20 points on 50% shooting on the night. He was followed by Michael Fan with 8; Hunter Wales with 6; Adam other with 5, and Josiah Hearn with 3 points.

It wasn’t enough for Scottsdale Christian, however, as Pierce slammed the door on any comeback attempts with a big 3-pointer and two buckets in the fourth. Grant also had a bucket, and Seth sealed the deal by hitting 5-6 free throws in the quarter as Pima upset the visiting No. 1 Scottsdale Christian Eagles, 53-42. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pierce Ashby (11) defends the bucket.

Pima will next host Tombstone on Monday, Feb. 7, for Senior Night, starting at 7 p.m., and will finish up its regular season on the road at Benson on Thursday, Feb. 10, starting at 7 p.m.

Click here to view the Gila Herald’s photo album of the game.  

In other local boys hoops action: 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Coy Miller drives into the lane against Scottsdale Christian.

In 1A, in the 1A South & Tucson Tournament, the No. 14 Duncan Wildkats beat The Gregory School 50-42 on Thursday; lost to St. David 35-58 on Friday, and lost to Dishchii’bikoh 40-49 on Saturday. The loss ended Duncan’s season. 

In 2A, the No. 13 Morenci Wildcats defeated Tombstone 70-37. Morenci will next travel to Benson on Monday, Feb. 7, starting at 7 p.m. 

In 3A, Safford (4-6 region, 4-8 conference, 9-16 overall) beat (Tucson) Empire Ravens 56-31 on Friday. The Bulldogs will next host the Tanque Verde Hawks on Tuesday, Feb. 8, starting at 7 p.m. 

No. 10 Thatcher (5-3 region, 10-5 conference, 19-6 overall) lost in overtime to the Coolidge Bears 57-61. Thatcher will next host Globe on Tuesday, Feb. 8, starting at 7 p.m.