Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pierce Ashby blocks a shot attempt by Kaden Bruggeman off Bruggeman’s back for the turnover. Pima held Trivium Prep without a field goal for the entire first period on its way to a 59-33 victory Friday night.
“Overall, I’m really happy with the improvement we made over last Friday to this Friday.”Pima head boys basketball coach Cliff Thompson
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – The Pima Roughriders held the visiting Trivium Prep Crimson Knights without a field goal for the opening period on its way to a 59-33 home opening win Friday night.
“I was really happy with how we came out defensively in the first quarter, first half,” said Pima boys basketball head coach Cliff Thompson. “That’s what we’ve been preaching. We’ve got to get better defensively.”
“They’ve got some good players and we did a really good job defensively on them and made some guys really work hard that maybe weren’t used to working that hard to get good looks.”
Senior Garrett Curtis scored the first six points for the Roughriders on a couple of mid-range jumpers and a fast-break layup. Curtis finished the night 6-10 from the field with a team-high 14 points to go with 6 rebounds.
“We came out and were super excited and full of energy,” Curtis said. “It was pretty nerve-racking but once I hit my first one I just was feeling it and kept on shooting.”
Senior Grant Ashby got the crowd involved early when senior Coy Miller picked Hee-Sung An’s pocket and led a fast break that ended with Ashby throwing one down. Grant then stole a pass and took it the distance for an and-1 play and before you knew it Pima was up 15-1 after the first quarter. Grant finished 6-9 from the field for 13 points to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
With less than two minutes to play in the half, Pima had a 26-5 lead with Joel Reis corralled a miss and hit a putback. Reis then answered a Coy Miller 3-pointer with one of his own and Reis effectively matched his team’s entire first-half output in less than a minute as the teams went into halftime with Pima up 31-10.
“We wanted to push the ball up and I think we did a pretty good job of that, too,” coach Thompson said.
It was more Miller, Grant Ashby, and Curtis in the third period as the senior core led the way. They were assisted on the night by a well-rounded group, including Pierce Ashby who went 3-5 for 6 points and 6 rebounds, Wyatt Wiltbank with 6 points, the round mound of rebound Nathan Skiba with 4 points to go with his 10 rebounds (6 offensive, 4 defensive), Sam Ray who hit a 3-pointer as part of his 5-point haul, and Keegan Corona who handled the point in reserve and scored 2 points. Even so, the team is still learning to gel together.
“It still feels a little off,” said guard Coy Miller. “We’ve only had like six practices, so definitely a lot more improvement to make, but I’d say for our first home game it was not terrible.”
Pima had its first game just six days after the football team won the 2A State Championship and is still without starting center Seth Russell (wrist fracture) and starting guard Leland Thompson (wrist). To counteract the losses. the Roughriders are looking to spread the ball and run more.
“We’ve got some athletes and we want to get out and run,” coach Thompson said. “Getting Garrett and Grant on the break – only good things can happen for us when we do that. Overall, I’m just really happy with the team . . . I’m really happy so far with our progress. I mean, we’re only two weeks into our season right now with our full team. (I’m) excited for the rest of the year.”
Pima (2-0) will next host Tombstone (0-1 region, 1-3 overall) on Tuesday, Dec. 13, starting at 7 p.m.