Roughriders take the sting out of Yellowjackets

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima’s starters took the fourth period off as the Roughriders cruised to a mercy-ruled shortened win over the visiting Blue Ridge Yellowjackets on Monday night, 69-34.

Pima readies for playoffs

By Jon Johnson

PIMA – The Pima Roughriders showed off their range Monday night, hitting jump shots and 3-pointers en route to a 69-34 defeat of the Blue Ridge Yellowjackets (2-6 3A East, 11-8 overall). 

“That Blue Ridge team went to Holbrook and beat Holbrook earlier this year, and Holbrook is a top-5 team,” said Pima head coach Cliff Thompson. “I just feel like we came out with a lot of intensity and we’re knocking down shots now. That was something that we were not doing in the first half of the season and we’re starting to come together offensively. That’s what I was hoping for.”

Pima (11-0 2A East, 21-3 overall) has one regular-season game left Tuesday night at home against Morenci (8-3 2A East, 16-10 overall). The Riders have lost only three times this year; to Rock Canyon, Colorado, 5A Campo Verde (which is 23-3 in 5A with one of their losses also to Rock Canyon), and to 3A Valley Christian, 51-53 on Jan. 10. 

Pima 69 – Blue Ridge 34

The teams played near equally for the first six minutes of the contest, but by the time Pierce Ashby’s 3-pointer tickled the twine, Pima had a 5-0 run and led after the first period, 17-10. Pierce had all 9 of his points in the opening period. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Garrett Curtis brings the ball down the court after a steal. Curtis finished with a game-high 14 points.

The run continued in the second when Pima exploded offensively by nailing open shots created by moving the ball against Blue Ridge’s zone defense. Coy Miller and Garrett Curtis both hit two from deep in the period, and Grant Ashby hit four field goals to help Pima garner 27 points in the second to go up 44-20 at the half. 

Curtis finished with a game-high 14 points, followed by Miller and Grant Ashby with 12 each, Pierce Ashby with 9, Riley Alder with 7, Seth Russell with 6, Rhett Hughes and Keegan Corona each with 3, Nathan Skiba with 2, and Wyatt Wiltbank with 1 point.

“We’re still improving as the season goes on,” coach Tompson said. “We have one more regular-season game left and then it’s get ready for the playoffs . . . Overall, (we played) good defense and I just feel like as a team we’re coming together right now. I’m hoping that continues over these next two to three weeks.” 

Blue Ridge was led by Logan Joe with 11 points and Reid Granillo with 9.

In other local prep action: 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Grant Ashby finishes strong near the rim.

The No. 18 Thatcher Eagles (9-0 3A South, 16-7 overall) defeated the Alchesay Falcons 76-62. Thatcher will play at Safford on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and finish the regular season on the road at the Coolidge Bears, which just beat Valley Christian, 68-62. 

Girls Scores

On the girls’ side of things, the No. 3 Pima Roughriders (11-0 2A East, 24-2 overall) defeated Blue Ridge, 62-35, and will next host Morenci on Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m. 

The No. 3 Thatcher Eagles (7-1 3A South, 16-3 overall) fell to Alchesay, 64-66. The Eagles will play at Safford on Tuesday and finish the regular season on the road at Coolidge on Wednesday, Feb. 8. 

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